Microsoft just brought down the house at The Game Awards Thursday night. Phil Spencer took to the stage to finally reveal Xbox Scarlett, or as it's now known: Xbox Series X. It's a beastly console that looks like a PC tower. On top of that, a Hellblade sequel was announced alongside it.
It was an amazing reveal that no one expected — how did that not leak?! — and now Sony needs to respond in a big way when it fully reveals the PlayStation 5.
So far we've been drip-fed information about the PS5 only in the form of Wired exclusives, and as invigorating as that can be for the PlayStation crowd, we're getting antsy and need something more. There's no doubt that the specs will be as powerful as the ones on the Xbox Series X — I don't think Sony needs to be worried in that regard. What I think they need to do is control the narrative going forward now.
In a way, Microsoft may have done Sony a favor in revealing the look of the Xbox Series X first. If you remember, this happened previously. Microsoft botched the Xbox One announcement and Sony went and made a video on how easy it was to share games on PS4, an obvious knock against what you couldn't do with Xbox One at the time. Microsoft going first means Sony has the time to craft its response, which can work in the latter's favor.
Despite that, Sony also needs to be careful with how it reveals the PS5. A reveal can make or break its perception. If any part of it doesn't live up to what Microsoft just showed off, it'll be at a disadvantage ahead of release season, and that's not worth the risk.
Show us why we should care about next-gen for more than resolution bumps. Show what that extra power can really do.
We've seen before that because one company dominated a console generation doesn't mean it will continue to do so during the next. For all of the problems that the red ring of death gave Xbox, the Xbox 360 is generally regarded as the winner in the fight with the PlayStation 3. That narrative completely switched when the PS4 and Xbox One were released. To put it lightly, the PS4 practically left the Xbox One for dead. It's taken a lot of work for Microsoft to earn back the trust and confidence it lost in its fans.
We already know a lot more about the Xbox Series X (GameSpot has the exclusive info on everything Xbox Series X), so we can think of a few areas that Sony needs to address with its response.
For one, the Xbox Series X is not as large as the pictures would make it seem. Its width is roughly the size of an Xbox One controller, and it's about three times as tall. That's a lot smaller than a beefy PC, and something that Sony should consider with the PS5. A lot of the PS4's appeal was because it was much smaller than the Xbox One at launch. Size does matter!
If the PlayStation 5's physical design doesn't quite meet expectations or is worse than the Xbox Series X, then Sony should shift its focus to its features, games, and peripherals when it's revealed. Xbox already showed us that we're getting a Hellblade sequel that looks phenomenal. Sony needs a similar surprise. It doesn't need to be major like the next God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn — as amazing as that would be — but it should be something that showcases the tech.
I want to know what kind of experiences I can look forward to on PlayStation. Give me something I can't get on PS4, regardless of resolution or frame rate. That's what Sony needs to showcase during its reveal, not just a nice 4K image. That's where it can one-up Xbox. Show us why we should care about next-gen for more than resolution bumps. Show what that extra power can really do.
Sony shouldn't spend too much time focusing on PSVR, either. It's nice that current headsets will be compatible on PS5, but until it's ready to unveil its next-gen PSVR headset, it shouldn't give the current one more than a passing mention. Sony already has the upper hand when it comes to console VR. Microsoft doesn't have VR on Xbox to speak of.
Aside from that, I just want Sony to show me why I should stick with the PlayStation ecosystem. Next-gen will be a battle of ecosystems more than anything. How will PlayStation Now grow? What new services are they looking into launching? Do they have an answer to Microsoft's xCloud? PlayStation needs to answer these questions.
Finally, please convince me why I should care about the next DualShock controller. This is wishful thinking and I know it won't happen, but if Sony announced that the next DualShock was configurable and you could swap out the left thumbstick and D-pad placement, I just might die.
I'd also like to see Sony announce its own event to reveal it. This wasn't the biggest reveal for Xbox — there are still a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions — and Microsoft will show more at E3 2020 down the road. Sony should want to have everyone's attention, with no exceptions.
No matter what happens, the next several months are going to be a whirlwind for the industry. Both Sony and Microsoft's consoles are due out during the holidays in 2020, and there are still a ton of questions that need answering about each. It's a race to the finish line.
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