The dust surrounding the announcement of the latest Microsoft console has settled.
Aptly named Xbox One X (previously known as Xbox Scorpio) and starting at a price point of $499, Microsoft’s answer to PS4 Pro has had its unveiling and we now know what to expect ahead of its release on November 7. Whilst an impressive piece of kit – boasting the power to push native 4K gaming as well as a whole host of other excellent features – the question arises, is it enough to halt the momentum that’s seen Sony ship over 60 million PS4s in just over three-and-a-half years?
For our money, not at the moment. Here’s why.
In light of a lack of heavy-hitting exclusives for PS4 throughout its first year on shelves, Sony adopted the shrewd move of sewing up third-party partnerships for some of the biggest titles hitting the market – the likes of Destiny, Call of Duty, and Star Wars Battlefront – and it turned out to be a massive success, launching PS4 sales to heights not seen since the PS2 era, despite premature musings that consoles were soon to fall by the wayside.
Destiny PS4 screenshot
By extension, Sony’s bullishness in continuing to aggressively capture the console marketing rights to many Activision, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and even Rockstar Games’ properties will have a very astute consequence in the video game landscape going forward. Not only will they become de facto PlayStation-centric titles à la Destiny – Sony’s very own Andrew Ryan has previously expressed that the intention of these deals is to make the average consumer equate third-party titles as ‘Only on PlayStation’ – but they also may ensure a semblance of parity between that of PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Think about it – if you, as Sony, have just brokered a lucrative marketing deal with a publisher for one or multiple titles that’ll see your platform (PS4 Pro) headline all the advertisements – trailers, TV spots, billboards, in-shop posters – the last thing you’d want to do as a publisher is sour that agreement by allowing a rival console – to which no marketing deal for that specific game(s) has been struck – to have a noticeably better version running alongside that of its PlayStation counterpart. It’s not impossible, sure, and you could hazard a guess to say that the differences beyond a native 4K resolution could potentially be significant, but to do so would reflect poorly on the nature of that big-money marketing deal with Sony, and as a result, it’s not in the interest of publishers to exercise the power gulf between both consoles.
In light of that, the gap in raw horsepower between PS4 Pro and Xbox One X will likely only be sufficiently evident within Microsoft’s frankly sparse first-party offerings and third-party deals. And though the Redmond-based behemoth had a few tricks up its sleeve at its conference last night – namely the rights to Bioware’s Anthem, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Forza Motorsport 7, Crackdown 3, and Metro Exodus – the dwindling reception for traditionally reliable big-sellers like Halo and Gears of War means that Microsoft has sizeable hurdles to overcome in the proceeding years on the market especially considering Sony’s dominance in exclusive game releases in the former half of this year.
Forza 7 – An Xbox One exclusive
Because let’s face it, beyond the gaming enthusiast who can without fault pick out a native 4K resolution from that of say, Horizon Zero Dawn’s checkerboard display on a medium-sized TV, Xbox One X is a hard sell to the average everyday consumer that just wants to play the latest and greatest games on the market, especially at its $499 price point. Sure, adoption rates of 4K sets are picking up, and for what it is the price is actually acceptable, but the value proposition to somebody who just casually follows video games – and doesn’t (at least until now) care about frame rates – just is not there. It’s also further highlighted by the liberal use of ‘console launch exclusive’ during the conference – a term that only means that the game arrives on Xbox One X first and PS4 Pro later. All in all, Microsoft looks to be targeting a niche demographic – and unfortunately, bar its hardcore fans, it looks to be one that’d be traditionally already found in the PC space.
Related: Xbox Scorpio vs PS4 Pro at E3 2017
It’s got to be said, though, competition is good for everyone in this industry. A healthy Xbox One X release ensures that Sony doesn’t rest on its laurels, and instead must continue to deliver on its promise of blockbuster experiences at every turn. Also, it means that we can expect developers and publishers alike to take PS4 Pro enhancements a step further, perhaps allowing the likes of supersampling more often for 1080p gaming, and just all-round more polished experiences in line with certain exclusive efforts like Ratchet & Clank and Horizon Zero Dawn.
PS4 best games 2017
Up until now, Sony’s diverse and steady output – spearheaded by the continued resurgence of the Japanese development scene – has been nothing short of spectacular. Nioh, Persona 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, Wipeout Omega Collection, Yakuza 0, and to an extent Gravity Rush 2 have all hit the mark, alongside robust PS4 performances from the likes of Tekken 7 and Resident Evil 7. And that’s neglecting to mention the third-party deals and other games lined up for the latter half of the year. Fact is, as it stands, software, smart advertising, and a competitive price tag is what shifts units, and unfortunately for Microsoft it hasn’t been able to position the Xbox One X as an attractive enough proposition to the average consumer in the face of the cheaper option in PS4 Pro as of yet.
Horizon Zero Dawn – PS4 exclusive
PS4 Pro price drop possible
Better still, given PS4’s placement in the market at the minute (over 60 million units –with the likes of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Destiny 2 to shift much more) we’ll stick our necks out and say that there’ll be a price drop for PS4 Pro right around the holiday season to take the wind of Microsoft’s sails. And if Sony does indeed go down that route the aforementioned hurdles that Xbox One X faces may be succeeded by a mountain to climb, too.
What did you think of the Xbox One X reveal? Did the games excite you? Would you pick one up at its current price tag? Let us know in the comments section below and check out the E3 2017 schedule for all the latest news.