Crystal Mills - Contena

Crystal Mills

I’ve been writing about gaming and esports for nearly a decade. I’ve worked with organizations such as OpTic Gaming, eSportsNation, DualShockers, theScore, and The Loadout. 

When I’m not writing I’m usually playing Call of Duty or Mass Effect for the billionth time. 

The Way We Judge Next-Gen Games is Changing
Front Page
3 minute read

Graphics alone don’t define the projected success of video game consoles anymore.

The next-gen battle between the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 has officially begun, but as of right now, not much of the released information can be compared. The way we judge and make predictions of a console’s success has officially changed compared to past generations.

At the first glance, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are almost identical technologically. The amount of memory is similar, they both still utilize disc drives, they’re powered by similar chips, and they’re both scheduled to release during the holiday season in 2020.

Both consoles are boasting dramatically shortened load times thanks to AMD’s Navi, and they’ll both have the ability to produce 8K visuals. So how will Sony and Microsoft heat up the next-gen competition? Unlike past generations, it’s not going to be through technological advancements.

It’s going to be through exclusive titles, individual features, and streaming services.

The Xbox Series X branding is a little less straight-forward compared to the numerical system of the PlayStation’s line of consoles, but this could be a clue as to how Microsoft plans to brand future releases. It mimics the branding of Apple’s products, and if this is an indication of Microsoft’s direction, it could mean that we will see multiple iterations of the next-gen console, all with various features and prices.

This echoes the way Sony offered different versions of the PS3 and PS4 with smaller prices tags. Next-gen carries more possibilities, though. Microsoft’s Project Lockhart could be a potential dual release beside the Xbox Series X, and offer a cheaper, disc-less console much like the Xbox One S All-Digital.

Nothing has been revealed about different versions of the PS5, but if Sony follows their past formula after releasing the PS4 Pro, there will most likely be future iteration in the future. However, in Sony’s case, it seems like one of their main focuses will be exclusive titles. This has been one of the primary selling points for every past generation, but the main shift is from the graphics to the content of the game itself.

Godfall, slated to release with the PS5 for the holidays in 2020, looks absolutely gorgeous. It has already ignited conversations about “how next-gen it looks,” but we’ve already seen the visual capabilities of other titles that have already been released.

God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and even Call of Duty: Modern Warfare have demonstrated next-gen qualities, proving that we’ve entered a technological age where the graphics are already known to be advanced. It’s expected and it’s not as surprising. More importantly, it could be argued that AAA titles have an unspoken obligation to provide stellar visual content. Debates predicting the success of future consoles based on their graphics are going to fade beneath other features.

If Sony continues their strategy from the PS4’s timeline, they’ll be announcing plenty more exclusive titles as 2020 closes.

But for the PlayStation, it’s not all about the games. Unlike Microsoft, Sony has already released more specific information about the console and how it functions. Controller patents have already been circulating through the web, detailing the new features that could enhance gameplay mechanics.

New additions like haptic feedback will replace the traditional rumble, simulating actual experiences occurring on-screen. For example, players should be able to feel the difference between driving through rough terrain versus speeding over smooth ground.

But the immersion doesn’t stop there. Adaptive triggers will allow developers to program resistance to the L1/R1 buttons. In this case, using a trigger for a bow-and-arrow should feel tense compared to pressing the trigger to shoot a machine gun.

The design seems to have changed a bit as well. Patent images suggest that the controller will be slightly chunkier and heavier than the DualShock 4. A microphone also seems to have been added while the light bar has been erased. The DualShock 4’s micro USB port has been replaced by a smaller USB-C port, and has been moved to the top rather than the base of the controller.

One of the main topics surrounding the future of gaming is the appearance of the Cloud. Google’s Stadia has already been released for founding consumers, but the execution has been criticized and the support has wavered. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have plans to provide their own cloud-based experiences, which could be a vital feature for promoting accessibility.

Project xCloud’s preview will unlock the ability to play a selection of Xbox titles on Android phones and tablets by streaming it directly from the cloud over Wi-Fi or a mobile network.

The PlayStation already has a public avenue of cloud streaming through its subscription service PlayStation Now. The service allows players to directly stream games through their console by paying $9.99 (previously $20) a month. The price change was implemented in response to the release of Google Stadia and the testing of xCloud, and Sony is prepared to stay ahead of its competition as cloud gaming becomes a widespread service.

No matter what side of the next-gen war you’re prepared to fight for, it’s an absolute win for gamers. The future of video games is stunning, and it’ll all soon be right at our fingertips.

Published February 21, 2020