With the release of the next gen consoles still being a couple of months out, there are some things that we still don’t know. And depending on how either platform plays it, they could make a more compelling case for themselves. Before anyone claims any fanboyism or bias, I hope that both succeed because healthy competition breeds growth for the industry. And before I get into the weaknesses, it’s time to acknowledge the strength of the way that Microsoft has been promoting the next generation.
Microsoft’s strength is the fact that they’ve done more than Sony to stay in the public consciousness. There’s been fairly steady reveals of features and content since the Video Game Awards, where Senua’s Saga and the console itself was revealed. The game content reveals have been a bit of a mixed bag, though some of the postings and videos illustrating features have found a way to set the Series X apart from the current generation. However, there are some things that Microsoft could do to improve their performance toward launch.
First is an obvious step. Show us the power. While we do have in-engine cinematic trailers for a lot of things, there are some games that have been in development for a while and have shown some demoed gameplay from at least Gamescom 2019. Show new demoed gameplay for Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 and Scorn and how they’re working on the Series X now, just for two examples. Show some gameplay for Halo Infinite from a much more recent build running on the Series X, just for another. Not only that, for the cross-gen titles, show comparisons so that you could possibly upsell them to the next-gen version.
Second, and this could achieve the first point at the same time, show the full function of the Series X gamepad during gameplay. If the next gen Xbox gamepad’s “Share” button works a lot like the “Share” button from the Dualshock4, they could show gamepad functionality while record or livestreaming directly from the Series X. It’s time to demo what sets the next-gen Xbox gamepad, much like Sony did through their hands-on of the DualSense5 with Geoff Keighley.
Third, there’s still content waiting in the wings to be called to stage. Reveal it. People want to know about what The Initiative and inXile entertainment are doing. And there’s still others that can talk as well. Even if they only have a trailer and some talking points to go over because it won’t be released within the six-month launch window, show it. Encourage more teams to also start up developer diaries where they can also independently show off work they’re doing on their road to launch.
Most importantly, they’ve got to announce preorder dates, a price, and an official release date. And there’s a way to at least make an educated guess that would still undercut Sony. Microsoft has a bigger warchest to draw from in video games and Sony probably doesn’t want to lose out on the fact that the PS4 was the first console they’ve released that was profitable (in relation to manufacturing cost) at launch. Reports suggest that the PS5 costs at least $450 to manufacture, which means, if they want to continue launch profitability into the next generation, they’d be shooting for a price around $500 for the disc-based console. If those reports are accurate, shoot for a $400 launch price (lower if there are any trade-up purchase bonuses). If Microsoft does that, Sony would need to be willing to take a $50 loss on each console sold just to match it.