Next-Gen Gaming: Xbox Game Showcase Takeaways
We are mere months away from the next generation of consoles, and both PS5 and Xbox Series X are proving to be formidable gaming machines worthy of our undivided attention. This is an exciting time for everyone involved — the gap between consoles and full-fledged gaming PCs has shrunk considerably, which will allow game developers to have a much simpler, more streamlined development process. The recently held Xbox Game Showcase was supposed to do two things: create hype and give gamers a glimpse into what Microsoft’s next-gen offering will bring to the table.
In the end, however, things didn’t pan out as expected; fortunately, the presentation itself created a lot of discussions online, and there are a couple of key takeaways that we can extract from it all. Both Sony and Microsoft have already claimed they’ll revolutionize console gaming come holiday season, so it is only natural that everyone’s dying to see in-game footage (i.e. proof) and any demonstration of said next-gen performance.
Technical specifications are nice and all, but we have very little use of a thorough spec sheet if the games aren’t up to snuff. No one will pull out their wallets because of any number of teraFLOPS or high core count processors. Instead, our purchasing decisions will be made based on what each tech giant planned in the short and long-term. Sony has focused on those oh-so-alluring triple-A titles that can make your mouth water (God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima and the like) but Microsoft has other plans.
A Different Approach
Microsoft is laser-focused on providing the ultimate gaming experience through backwards compatibility and multiple exquisite online services. This means that if you want the most noticeable generational leap in terms of graphics and performance, you’d best go with Sony. Microsoft won’t be making any exclusives in the first year or two after its release, which means they’ll have to work extra hard on making their games work perfectly across multiple different consoles. This means the development process itself won’t be nearly as “simple.”
At the Xbox Game Showcase, we were given a glimpse into a reboot of Fable, a few moments of Forza Motorsport, some surprisingly underwhelming footage of Halo Infinite, Psychonauts 2, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, and a couple of trailers from Microsoft-owned game studios. Overall, it was by no means a triumphant tour de force, but rather a subdued slew of trailers that were mostly void of any actual gameplay.
Sony and Microsoft claim huge, revolutionary increases in performance, but it’ll take a while before that extra power underneath the hood can translate into improved (and awe-inspiring) gameplay. After all, the best and most complex PS4 exclusives only came out years after the console first launched.
Xbox Game Pass
This is where things get a lot more interesting. All of the games mentioned above (and even those that haven’t been officially announced but are in the pipeline regardless), will be available on day one through Microsoft’s Game Pass service.
Think of Game Pass as a Netflix for gaming. You have a huge collection that’s constantly growing, and you can play any game that’s available (for as long as it’s available) to your heart’s content. Maybe you’re not a fan of Halo, but you’d like to give it a test run without spending $60. Game Pass lets you do that.
To say that this is mighty alluring would indeed be an understatement.
You might not get that same level of production value as you would from a Sony exclusive, but it’s darn close, and it’ll come at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, if you get the Ultimate subscription ($14.99 per month, Xbox and PC included), you’ll get xCloud for free. Now, online game streaming might not be your cup of tea (not to mention its technical limitations and challenges), but it is the future, and it’s a liberating one, to boot.
For a meager monthly fee, you’ll be able to play all of your Game Pass titles (and eventually your library) on almost any compatible device. Microsoft is no longer trying to sell you a “box” for gaming but instead a service that’ll keep you entertained for as long as possible. This is an entirely different business model, and it heavily differs from what Sony wants to do.
This, in essence, is fantastic for the end consumer. You can now choose which model suits your needs and then make the correct purchasing decision without much thought. Sony will still provide us with those mesmerizing stories that seemingly transcend the medium, whereas Microsoft will opt for quantity and diversity. And the best part is that you won’t have to pick one or the other — they can go hand-in-hand. You’ll need a PlayStation 5 to enjoy Sony’s incredible exclusives. You can also play upcoming Xbox Series X releases on your PC and see how Microsoft doesn’t want to segregate their target audience. They’re treating games as a service, and you’ll get to choose which platform you want to play them on, regardless if it’s a gaming console, a spec’d-out PC, or a mobile phone with an Xbox controller paired via Bluetooth.
The future of gaming is bright, and even though it might not be what we expected, it’s bound to deliver in every way, shape, and form. Expect more bombastic game reveals from both Sony and Microsoft over the coming months.