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Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Will you pre-order PS5 or Xbox Series X/S?

GameCentral readers discuss the final price reveals of the next gen consoles and try to make their choice between Xbox and PlayStation 5.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader JAH and others and started off by asking whether you’re considering buying an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S. But since the PlayStation 5 announcement on Wednesday it became the usual question of Sony vs. Microsoft.

There’s no easy answer this generation though, with readers being evenly split on the issue. As you’d imagine the biggest factors where the high value for money with Xbox and the better exclusives on PlayStation.

No contest
I’m still keen on a PlayStation 5 this generation. I think the moves Microsoft have made are great, but they don’t really suit me. I would’ve absolutely loved Game Pass when I was younger but, at 37, I don’t have much free time and would rather play a game every so often and then trade it in, something I couldn’t do on the super inexpensive, discless Xbox Series S.

I’m also really set in my ways and knowing that after some signing in/bank and internet details input I’ll be good to go. The biggest reason, however, are the games. Xbox had a chance to show off some great new games from all those developers they bought up, but I can’t say I’m impressed by what they’ve got for their launch window.

Compare this to Sony, who have already shown some very promising software like Ratchet & Clank, Spider-Man, and Demon’s Souls – as well as the inevitable God Of War 2 and whatever Naughty Dog have planned. Add in their focus on VR and it’s no contest for me.

Microsoft are a services company and in that context they’ve done really well, but I just want to buy a game on disc that blows my socks off for a weekend or two and I think Sony are doing much better in that regard. The only thing to derail Sony is if it’s massively overpriced but, after the PlayStation 3 debacle, I can’t see it happening.
ANON

Short wait
I’m an avid fan of Microsoft and intend to purchase an Xbox Series X but not on release date. I don’t feel the need to jump into the next gen at the moment and am happy to wait maybe six months before upgrading. The console may be cheaper then and any teething problems removed.

There is no chance of me buying a PlayStation 5 but I am considering getting a PlayStation 4 later in the year, probably second-hand, so I can play a few of the PlayStation exclusives. A neighbour has most of them on disc and said I can borrow them.
Manic miner 100 (gamertag)

Decision postponed
By the end of the PlayStation 5 showcase I would’ve said I was definitely going for Sony, everything they’d done up till the point was miles better than Microsoft’s shambles of a next gen campaign, they even had a good comeback to the super cheap Xbox Series S and Game Pass.

But after finding out the price of the PlayStation 5 games and all the other weird small print that they didn’t mention, like games being cross-gen, started to sour me. Then you get the stupidity of the pre-order non-announcements and suddenly Sony are beating Microsoft on incompetence as well.

I think I still will get a PlayStation 5 but now I’m thinking of leaving it till next year rather than jumping in straight away (not that I probably can anyway, given the pre-order situation).
Septus

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The Japanese factor
The obvious answer with the new Xboxes, and anything next gen, is that it’s too early to call. Any sensible person should sit out the first couple of years and see where we are. But personally… I’ve always been a Sony guy for two reasons, the exclusive games and Japan. Even during the Sony hubris of the PlayStation 3 I didn’t flip over to the superior (third party experience on) Xbox360 for those reasons.

I’d take Uncharted 2 over Gears Of War any day. Everyone knows about Sony’s exclusives by now, but most Japanese developed games are still PlayStation first, like NieR:Automata, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Dragon Quest, etc. only coming to Xbox much later or not at all, i.e. Persona 5. And that’s just the big names. Until Microsoft sort this problem out they won’t win me over.

Specifically on the Xbox though, I’m not convinced the Xbox Series S strategy is a good one, as in terms of raw power the console is a significant step down from the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Are we really convinced that all it’s gonna do is crank down the resolution and you’ll be playing third party games for years to come at 60fps?

I know it’s next gen tech inside, and the gap will be made up on the faster memory bandwidth, CPU and SSD, but to last a whole generation? Unless Microsoft are hoping for ‘the power of the cloud’ to plug the gap by 2025.
Marc

Maybe later
The hardware reveals for the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X went about as well as they could have. Together with the All Access deal they created a lot of goodwill for the Xbox brand and made them a more appealing proposition. I suspect that the Xbox Series S will do well among the large portion of the console market who aren’t interested in 4K gaming and have no attachment to physical media.

Once the dust settled, however, I realised that little had changed for me. The Xbox Series S isn’t a viable option as I’m not ready to separate myself entirely from physical media: I’m as much a game collector as a gamer and I enjoy receiving and giving games as gifts. Consequently, Game Pass doesn’t appeal to me and I think it best suits those who consume a large quantity of games across the triple-A and independent space. For a few reasons, primarily time and absolute indie burnout from the PS Vita days, that isn’t me.

That leaves the Xbox Series X as the most enticing proposition out of the two Xbox offerings. It’s an impressive piece of hardware at a reasonable price, and I can see myself owning one at some point in the generation. Nevertheless, I’m still heavily swayed by exclusive games and Xbox have some convincing to do in that area. I would lean towards the Xbox Series X if it offered a significant performance advantage for third party games, but without a handful of must-play exclusives the games would have to run pretty terribly on PlayStation 5 for me to come to that decision.

Ultimately, my aim will be to pick up both consoles at some point in the generation. Which one becomes my main console will depend on the exclusives available (probably after 1.5 to 2 years, when I’ll be ready to buy), the pipeline of new exclusive games and the relative performance of third party games. At the moment that is still more likely to be the PlayStation 5 than Xbox Series X but there’s plenty of time for Xbox to change my mind and I’m excited to see what they bring to the table in the next generation.
Magnumstache

Losing faith
For me Microsoft just isn’t offering anything I want. Being cheap is great and all but you still have to have a product that’s worth playing and so far they’ve got nothing, literally nothing when it comes to exclusive games.

To be honest I gave up interest with Halo Infinite, that was such an embarrassing unveil I just lost faith. I may not get PlayStation 5 this year but I will at some point.
Korbie

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Killer app condition
I haven’t seen it pointed out that often but if you intend to subscribe to Game Pass over a two year period anyway then the prices of both the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are actually lower overall if you buy one through Xbox All Access.

I’d have foreseen Microsoft accepting a loss on manufacturing each console but there’s no way I’d have predicted they would offer a monthly payment model that, in total, is cheaper than paying up front or even sticking a console on an interest free credit card. The impact on their cash flow will be astronomical and I can’t see Game Pass revenues fully compensating, so Xbox division really must have Microsoft’s full backing no matter the cost.

That said, even around £20-30 a month for the service and hardware will be a waste of money for me if I’ve still got to pay separately for the games I really want (which I barely have time to get through as it is) or if those games aren’t available on Xbox at all. As such, I’ll still be more inclined to get a PlayStation 5 now that games like Demon’s Souls, Ratchet & Clank, and even the God Of War sequel are coming much earlier than I initially expected (as long as retailers settle on a limit of £55-60 for physical copies, which is something I’m now a bit worried about).

Value for money isn’t always the main driver and, as great (and surprising) as Microsoft’s offers are, I don’t think any real excitement I’ve associated with gaming has ever derived from not having to pay that much for it.

The likelihood of me getting an Xbox Series S or X therefore continues to depend on whether or not any must-play games come out that I can’t get elsewhere. The only thing that’s changed is how much easier Microsoft has made it for me to make a spontaneous purchase now. If a killer app does turn up, there won’t be as much deliberating as I can now decide overnight to get the Xbox Series S and maybe a month or two of Game Pass to start with.

This does make it overall more likely that I’ll get an Xbox at some point compared to last gen, when I never saw the point, but that killer app condition still remains.

The same applies for the PlayStation 5 but while we can’t know for sure how things will pan out in terms of the quality of exclusive software, as things currently stand, the most important indicator for what’s ahead of us is still what’s immediately behind us. PlayStation is coming off its best generation yet in terms of first party (and arguably console exclusive) output and Xbox is probably coming off its worst. There’s only so much an attractive pay model and a take-it-or-leave-it subscription service can achieve to make us forget that.
Panda

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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