2020 is the year of the next generation of consoles. Both Sony and Microsoft have released details about their next-gen systems. The power consoles have something in common but differ optically and in technical details. Fans will need to look closely this year to decide which console is the better buy for them. We took a closer look at the differences between Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Microsoft and Sony don’t skimp on superlatives when it comes to announcing their next-generation consoles. Both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X have powerful power under the hood. Both manufacturers promise significant leaps in performance. The technical details of both platforms are convincing and rely on similar basic specifications: PS5 and Xbox Series both use an AMD processor and have fast SSD storage.
Technologically, the two platforms are obviously not far apart. However, there are differences – some are serious. The more information Sony and Microsoft publish, the more independent the consoles appear.
Everything as always? Exclusive games for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Apart from hardware or optical differences, it is primarily games that are exclusively geared towards a platform that fans use as a basis for making decisions for or against buying a console. The manufacturers also know this and rely on games that are not available from the competition. Basically, there are different opinions on the subject of “exclusive titles”. Whether it is fair or even sensible to limit individual titles or series of games with regard to the target group “gamers” is often the subject of discussion. Exclusive games for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X will still be the driving force in the next-gen year 2020.
The more information Microsoft and Sony publish about the launch titles, the more exclusive titles there are. Microsoft, in particular, has hit the market hard enough to buy teams of developers who are now producing first-party titles. Of course, there are also some exclusive games for Xbox Series X, or for consoles of the Xbox One family. Among other things, exclusive titles such as “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2”, the successor to Ninja Theory’s successful “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice”, are known. Thirty party developers are also launching exclusive games for the Xbox Series X, such as the Bloober Team, the makers of the next-gen version of Observer, which launches its new game “The Medium” exclusively for Xbox and PC. In addition, Halo: Infinite is one of the absolute driving forces – it is therefore not surprising that this game will accompany the launch of the Xbox Series X.
Even Sony is not short of big names when it comes to software-related support for the release of the Playstation 5. The manufacturer starts with the PS5 where it started with the Playstation 4. Sony already presented 18 Playstation 5 games at a first reveal event, some of the first-party titles that appear as exclusive games. So far these games are known:
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Gran Turismo
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
- Sackboy: A Big Adventures
- Horizon: Forbidden West
- Demon’s Souls
- Ghostwire: Tokyo
- Godfall (also for PC)
In any case, Microsoft and Sony deal differently with first-party productions. While Microsoft plans to release all of these titles for Xbox One and Xbox Series X for at least one year, Sony is betting on games that will only be released for Playstation 5 and will not run on the previous console. However, the exclusive games are only the tip of the iceberg: there are also multi-platform titles, including many triple-A games such as Resident Evil: Village, Fortnite, Hitman 3, Dirt 5, and a spin-off of the sports game series by EA Sports, including Madden NFL 21, NBA 2K21 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Subscription services for Xbox Series X and Playstation 5
New technologies alone are no longer sufficient these days, fans expect extensive services from console manufacturers. Both Sony and Microsoft will also offer their subscription models with the release of the next generation of consoles – this also includes game flat rates as part of the Xbox Game Pass or Playstation Now. Microsoft also adds the Project xCloud as a cloud gaming solution.
The future of gaming without such payment services is hardly conceivable – neither for console manufacturers nor for fans who like to dig into their pockets in order to use game libraries. The sales generated by publishers are constantly setting new records .
Therefore, gamers will also be able to use online services for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. Mircrosoft continued the proven path and supports the Game Pass through the cloud project. All first-party games can thus be played automatically as part of the subscription. Microsoft even communicates the Game Pass as key features for the future of the Xbox family.
Sony, on the other hand, has a similar, if somewhat weakened, service in the repertoire with Playstation Now – however, it is not yet known how PS Now is actually implemented for Playstation 5. However, the console manufacturer will not do without it. Overall, the payment services from Microsoft and Sony differ, but the basic idea is similar. If Sony acts cleverly, companies could use the launch of Playstation 5 as an anchor point for strengthening online services.
Backward compatibility and “smart delivery”
Microsoft has achieved a coup with backward compatibility. The system is also to be maintained for the Xbox Series X, then intensified under the idea of ”Smart Delivery”: After that, all first-party titles and selected third-party productions – if purchased once – will be on Xbox One and Xbox Series X be playable. With the next-gen console, after an upgrade in a suitably adapted look. The hardware recognizes from the games stored in the account which installation is the choice.
Sony, on the other hand, traditionally relies on backward compatibility. To what extent is not yet known. There are only statements that an “overwhelming part” of the PS4 games should run on Playstation 5. If a game is compatible, it should probably benefit from the power of the PS5 and offer shorter loading times or higher resolutions.
Next-gen consoles: Revised controllers
Microsoft and Sony use completely different strategies for the controllers. Microsoft remains true to the line it has driven so far and adheres to the familiar design. The controller for Xbox Series X is ergonomically light – and hardly noticeable – adapted, contains a new share button, and connectivity with USB-C. The control pad, on the other hand, has undergone a significant revision and now uses eight-way operation. Otherwise, there are no innovations, even the energy supply remains the same: two AA batteries are still required. After all, the controllers of the Xbox One are compatible with the Xbox Series X, so that custom controllers or elite versions can continue to be used.
Sony has revised its controller – now a DualSense wireless controller – and apparently aligned it with the motto “Future of gaming”. Color-matched to the Playstation 5, Sony is breaking new ground compared to the previous controller design. Everything is a bit rounder, the controller more powerful – there are also several new features, including the create button, adaptive trigger, haptic feedback, and also USB-C connectivity. In addition, the DualSense wireless controller has an integrated battery and a microphone, which can be used to communicate directly without connecting a headset.
Console optics: “Fridge” vs. “Wifi router”
The next-gen consoles could hardly be more different. If you only want the optics, you will have an easy game this year. Microsoft surprised at the unveiling event with the functional form of the Xbox Series X, which is erected on the vertical stand. The power console can still be put down, but the size ratio between width and height is significantly different this time than in the predecessors. The reason for the unusual design is ventilation. In order to ensure an efficient airflow – with the Xbox Series X standing vertically from above – Microsoft has chosen the form that fans call “refrigerators”.
Sony, on the other hand, has created a futuristic design piece with the Playstation 5. The black look of the predecessors is a thing of the past. The PS5 relies on the color white, then with black accents and blue light. The Playstation 5 can be placed vertically or horizontally and is based on curves. In addition, there will be two versions directly at the launch: one with a physical drive and a “digital edition” that does exactly that. There is also a range of accessories, ranging from a headset to a controller charging station and remote control.
The design of the Playstation 5 is a matter of taste. Some fans celebrate the brave step Sony has taken. Others are disappointed and would have preferred a simpler look. However you turn it, in the end the futuristic look of the Playstation 5 is at least unique.
Playstation 5 vs. Xbox Series X: technical performance
Their technical specifications are extremely important for the next-gen consoles. There is often talk of fast storage: Both the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5 use solid-state hard drives that take advantage of the NVM interface. This significantly increases the transmission time in the data area. Both consoles will, therefore, be characterized by an enormous performance boost in loading times. The capacity, on the other hand, differs significantly.
One terabyte is available on the Xbox Series X and 825 gigabytes on the Playstation 5. That sounds like plenty of storage capacity in both cases, but because modern games are data guzzlers, players will be unable to avoid connecting additional data media to their next-gen consoles. Microsoft is working with Seagate to launch an external 1 TB SSD. In addition, the console giant has already confirmed that players should not feel any loss in performance when used. This has one limitation: Of course, players will also be able to connect other external hard drives to transfer data or games – however, each game must be moved to the internal hard drive or the Seagate SSD in order to play it on the Xbox Series X. An exception applies to Xbox One games; these can be controlled directly.
Sony is opening up more and allowing players to use various m.2 NVME hard drives currently available because the PS5 has an expansion slot. However, Sony’s technology head Mark Cerny has already made it clear that connected hard drives must have at least the speed of the installed ones in order to actually take advantage of the PS5’s performance. USB storage devices can also be connected, and backward-compatible PS4 games can be started directly from them.
Both next-gen consoles rely on AMD
Whether the Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X will be faster, in the end, remains an open question. The speed can only be assessed when both consoles are actually available for tests. On paper, the Xbox Series X has a slight advantage when it comes to graphics processing power: Microsoft’s console is said to create around 12.2 teraflops, while the Playstation 5 is 10.3. It remains to be seen whether this will ultimately make a visible difference.
Both next-gen consoles rely on computing units from AMD, more precisely on a Zen 2 architecture including Navi RDNA 2 graphics unit. Both consoles support resolutions in 4K (possibly even up to 8K) and 120 FPS and ray tracing also provide realistic lighting effects. The big difference between the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X lies more in the sober numbers on paper: it’s about clock frequencies or computing units. In the end, it also depends on how well the developers align their games to the hardware. The fact is: in any case, the next-gen consoles are faster than their predecessors.
Power consumption is currently a much less illuminated topic. Both console manufacturers leave the fans in the dark. Only Sony knows that the sleep mode should be more economical than with the Playstation 4.
The price regions in which the consoles will operate at the time of publication are also unclear. There will be at least two prizes due to the versions of the Playstation 5, the version without a drive should be cheaper. Prices are currently between 499 and 599 euros, each for the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5. The new generation could not only be reflected in the price of the hardware: According to Sony CEO Jimy Ryan, PS5 games could also become more expensive because the production costs will be higher than in the area of the PS4. But the difference should not be too extreme.
The race will be played by Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X from the end of the year when both power consoles are due to appear.