Games Inbox: Does PS5 or Xbox Series X make a good second console?

The Wednesday Inbox still thinks game prices is the PS5’s Achilles heel, as one reader enjoys a five-player match of Star Wars: Squadrons.

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Second console
So far, much of the debate around the new console generation has revolved around gamers choosing to stay loyal to Sony/Microsoft or considering a move from one to the other. I find myself in a different position: long-term Nintendo fan (and Switch owner) looking to buy a second console for the first time!

I’ve loved Nintendo for nearly 20 years but there’s lots of other games that I’d be interested in catching up on. Looking back at the last generation I’m drawn to a mix of cross-platform titles (your Rockstars, Ubisofts, etc.) and PlayStation 4 exclusives like Ghost Of Tsushima and Shadow Of The Colossus, with no Xbox titles of any real interest.

For that reason, getting a PlayStation 5 seems like the logical decision, especially with the announcement of the PS Plus Collection. There’s only two things holding me back: the relative cost of purchasing PlayStation 5 games compared to Game Pass and the fact that Microsoft seems to be building momentum when it comes to exclusives.

At the end of the next generation, maybe they’ll have won the exclusives war or at least drawn level? Or perhaps Sony will change tack and come out with a genuine rival to Game Pass? Who really knows at this point! I’m also hopeful that Microsoft will continue their love-in with Nintendo and I can keep enjoying some of their less blockbuster-y games like Ori and Cuphead on Switch.

Despite Sony’s 99% claim, I’m still confused about certain aspects of backwards compatibility on PlayStation 5. If I buy up cheap PlayStation 4 discs, can I just put them in the new console and play? Will I be able to use a DualSense to play old games, or do I need to buy a PlayStation 4 controller?

I guess I’m still leaning towards PlayStation 5, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. I missed out on the pre-order rush, so might just end up waiting for a price drop and seeing what the lay of the land looks like in six months.

Capitalism, ho!
The thing I find strange about the £70 price of Sony first party titles, apart from them launching Destruction AllStars at that price, is that they don’t need to.

The last quarterly profit report from Sony showed them making a third of their profits from DLC, $2.2billion in four months. The big money maker right now is the recurring battle passes and the like.

Now, I always thought Sony made their first party games like marquee titles. High production values and no mictotransactions, to get players through the door and then rake in the money when they bought third party games and DLC through their marketplace.

After production costs and marketing Sony can only really be making back, what $2-300 million per release? Much less for niche titles. Next to what they make off the backend of being market leader and the revenue that pulls in I’m not sure any bad will makes sense.

It’s clear they are clawing back as much money as they can due to the suspected loss they are making, especially on the Digital Edition, and if they can lower production costs of the machine over time maybe their first party games will come down in price.

Ultimately the market will decide what games are worth and as early adopters we’re all guinea pigs in this settling into a new generation.
DarKerR (gamertag)/DarKerR-UK (PSN ID)
PS: Just over four weeks now. I’m a little bit excited.

5 for 1
I have to admit that I’m one of those people who don’t mind the price increase for PlayStation 5 games. In fact, I think it’s long overdue. People thought nothing of paying 40-50 quid back in the day for Sega Mega Drive games that were about two to four hours long – and there was no good reason for them to cost much in the first place, seeing as they required small teams with less complicated tech. Nowadays we’re looking at AAA games made by hundreds of developers creating incredibly detailed gaming experiences lasting 30-100+ hours yet people moan.

OK, I get a lot of those games are lengthy due to bloat but if we take, for example, Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 that’s, what, 20-25 hours for the story missions? Slap on an extra 15 hours for exploration and doing a bunch of side content, take away 10 hours for garbage bloat then you’re about at least 30 hours of quality entertainment. Isn’t that worth 55 quid? For the PlayStation 5 version add on the expansion taking it up to around 40-45 hours and that seems pretty good for 70 quid, no?

I get 70 quid is a hefty amount of money but I’m always seeing gamers complaining about their backlog of games they have, so could they not hold off until the newer games go down in price? I recently got a PlayStation 4 and wanted Ghost Of Tsushima immediately but seeing it was still near full price opted to buy five older and cheaper games for that money instead.

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Golden years
I am going to make a very bold prediction here and this is about the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. The best years for these systems is going to be in my opinion in between 2021 and 2025. This is due to the fact that it can take many years for new games to be developed and both of the new systems will need time to get a library of new games that can truly show people what these systems can do. These years will produce legendary games and some amazing titles.

While it is true that the games are going to cost £70 you can use sites like CDKeys which will provide a cheaper way to get the new games. When both systems are officially released it will certainly be a very interesting year when they are reviewed and some disassembly videos are uploaded. I will be getting both systems in the near future, although there is the issue of how many consoles will break and if it will or will not be a sufficient amount.

It is going to be very interesting as to what will be developed or revealed in the next upcoming years and what Microsoft and Sony will do to compete with each other.
gaz be rotten (gamertag)

Cart before horse
GC, got a bit of a big one here. After pre-ordering my PlayStation 5 I also pre-ordered Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition on PlayStation 5. All was down for delivery for the 19th, then last night I got an email from Amazon saying that my copy of Spider-Man had a change of date for the 12th, the same day the PlayStation 5 comes out in the USA. Do you think Sony might be changing the date and doing a worldwide release on the 12th for the PlayStation 5 itself?

I pre-ordered Godfall on Amazon for my PlayStation 5. I have received an email from Amazon saying that I will receive the game on the 12th of November instead of the 19th. Thanks Amazon, I can stare at the box for a week now waiting for my PlayStation 5 to arrive to play it on.

GC: It’s actually quite common for games to release a few days before a console, especially if it’s already out elsewhere in the world.

Tall order
Regarding Cyberpunk 2077 and the size of the map.

It’s important to note here that CD Projekt Red may well be attempting to create a revolution in the sandbox game genre.

Traditionally, sandbox games have been open world expanses with long reaching views to haphazardly manoeuvre within, and lighting and weather effects to make it all look great.

Buildings within series such as The Witcher and Far Cry are typically small huts, etc. with limited access and sophistication.

The imprecise manoeuvrability of Gerald in The Witcher made manoeuvring within buildings more like turning an oil tanker then the precise building orientated controls of a first person shooter like Doom/GoldenEye.

There is a discrepancy then, between controls that need to be geared toward movement over large distances, and then precisely over small distances.

The first Halo: Combat Evolved tried to broach this with passages of play between outside and inside, but the outside play tended to disappear in later entries.

Take then a sandbox game that needs to operate within a city. You see a conflict here. You are bolting together The Witcher and Doom.

Beyond that conflict you have the reality of a set of high0rise buildings that form a city. These are typically just office or residential floor plates with limited variation, and a set of fire escape stair cores and a set of lifts.

How do you work interesting set pieces into what is ultimately a boring set of spaces? Sure, there can be shopping centres and other expanses but how much of a real city do you want to occupy?

CD Projekt Red will have had to gear the architecture of the metropolis specifically to cater for set pieces, moving the design away from sandbox and perhaps creating an unrealistic city.

Something like Mass Effect 3 is perhaps the closest, or Deus Ex, but are these sandbox games?

A city from distance looks exciting because of the variety and vibrancy of the things to do inside, that make a city what it is, but when these activities are reduced to just a background for shooting?

And within the city you don’t have the constant far view and weather change that inspires you to stop and occupy the immediate space and say, ‘Wow, this world looks awesome!’.

Perhaps Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t supposed to be a sandbox game.

There is a chance for CD Projekt Red to put themselves on the map and refine a genre here. They are usually so dedicated, I hope they pull it off.
Matt Kirk

GC: You’re overthinking this. The map is smaller because, thanks to the buildings, it’s more vertical than The Witcher 3.

All wings report in
Just wanting to write in to say how much I’ve been enjoying Star Wars: Squadrons.

Due to the price and cross-play we’ve managed to field a full five players on Fleet Battles a couple of evenings in a row – brilliant fun with friends. It might even make a PlayStation 5 a must buy to upgrade the VR from my standard PlayStation 4.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Settle down
I have to agree with Twigglypuff’s letter about the positions of Xbox and PlayStation. There’s this assumption that because there has been some negative news about the PlayStation 5 that Sony is totally on the backfoot and needs to do something in response to all the Xbox positivity. And if they don’t, it’s just a return to the old Sony arrogance of the PlayStation 3 launch.

Realistically, I think Sony will indeed be monitoring how impactful things like Game Pass and Smart Delivery become, and they’ll be monitoring how well their exclusive PlayStation 5 software sells at current prices. But the initial interest in the PlayStation 5 will likely be too high for them to worry about answering any challenges until it’s demonstrated those matters really are as crucial as some are making out.

I don’t think Sony is being anti-consumer out of arrogance, any more than Microsoft is being pro-consumer out of humility. Arrogance in gaming is coming off a successful generation and starting a new one with no good games to offer, something we’ve seen from all three console manufacturers at times, with the PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Xbox One.

Here, Sony has wound down the PlayStation 4 with some big standout games and, even excluding cross-gen games, the first year of PlayStation 5 looks far more appealing to me than the first year of any other PlayStation (or non-Nintendo) platform. There’s usually this mantra that it’s all about the games and now, while understandable in many ways, the narrative seems to be around everything but the games.

The various unfortunate catches around PlayStation 5 games represent shrewd business more than arrogance to me. Being able to sell a small handful of PlayStation 5 games to an install base of 110+ million while charging a premium for the exclusive games that can only be sold to a PlayStation 5 base in the low millions seems like a compromise that allows them to match the most powerful Xbox in price and that also enables a balance between achieving the required software sales and offering enough incentive to get a PlayStation 5. (It’s pretty much what they said they’d do in the ‘believe in generations article’ that’s been brought up so many times.)

To be honest, regardless of the reasoning behind it all, £70 for exclusive games is still putting me off and I probably won’t budge till I can find Demon’s Souls for £60 or less. Not to save a tenner but to have the assurance that game prices will be semi-sensible after the honeymoon period. But if that happens in 2021, as I hope it does, then rather than representing a panicked climb down, I think it’ll be a case of the market for next gen exclusives settling down as it becomes large enough.

Inbox also-rans
It’s a shameful 180 compared to what he was saying about the Xbox One X but I for one am glad to hear Phil Spencer say that 8K is nonsense and ray-tracing doesn’t amount to much. Why do companies always focus on stuff like that instead of just getting on and making new games?

8K always sounded like madness to me and I’m very glad to hear it won’t really be a thing next gen. The Xbox news just keeps getting better!

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Xane, who asks how many video games do you currently own?

Both physical and digital copies count, although it’d be interesting if you were able to give separate figures for both. Digital games that you’ve paid for separately definitely count but games you have access to via a subscription like Game Pass do not.

How important do you think owning a game is compared to selling it on after a while or playing it as part of a subscription? Do you prefer owning physical or digital copies and is there anytime that you’ve owned more games than you do now?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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