Back in early August, I wrote a post explaining why I needed to be convinced to buy one of either Sony’s or Microsoft’s new video game consoles on day one, and how they were catastrophically failing to do so. It’s been a couple of months since then and we’ve learned a lot more about both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S.
So, have I changed my tune and decided to go out and buy one of these new consoles as soon as possible? Well, based on the title of this article, you can probably tell that they’re not doing the best job of turning me around.
During that initial post I made talking about these new consoles, my main knock against them was the lack of exclusive games on the consoles that could actually demand that a consumer like me actually needs to buy them. I proudly waved my casual flag around and talked about how I don’t especially care about playing the absolute “best” version of a game if I can get it cheaper and easier elsewhere.
I went on to question why I should feel the need to play Halo: Infinite on the Series X when I could just play it on my Xbox One X without having to spend hundreds of pounds on an utterly unnecessary console. There was a big counterargument to this; and that was Sony and their messaging that they “believed in generations”, something that they had continued to say in the face of the community wanting them to implement backward compatibility into the PS5.
Something they doubled down on hard. Until they decided that PS5 exclusive Spider-Man: Miles Morales was also going to be coming to PS4. Which makes a lot of sense in hindsight, considering the game is made using the same engine and technology as last year’s Spider-Man game. It’s not like I’m getting into a huff about Sony going back on their word or anything, I’m just using it to double down on my earlier statement that there really is no reason to buy the new consoles when it comes to their games.
That being said, as the fated day draws nearer: I’m not totally stalwart in my desire to avoid buying a new console, the “fear of missing out” and the hype that surrounded everyone trying to confirm their pre-orders still gets to me. Listening to people tell stories of waiting for an hour in online queues trying to confirm their console pre-order made me start to think, maybe I do need to confirm one of these important seeming new products.
It’s what Sony and Microsoft are baking on, making it seem like you are in danger of missing out on the new consoles, and creating this sense of scarcity for a product that there isn’t actually a reason to own right now. It’s that fear of missing out on something despite the fact that once they’re out I’d be shocked if anyone actually struggles to find one on a shelf. Because eventually I 100% plan buying one (if not both) of the new consoles, I’m just not in a rush about it.
I just need to know how these devices are going to work in practice, once they get into the hands of the hypercritical, looking for an excuse to be upset gaming community. Specifically, I want to know how these new, diskless consoles are going to deal with the ballooning size of games in the coming generation.
This whole previous console generation, it’s been widely known that the game developers would love nothing more than to phase out physical releases of video games altogether. Cutting out that middle man who take a cut for stocking the games in their stores. Or, God forbid, sell them second hand. Consequently, both the new consoles are getting a diskless version. While Sony’s device is pretty much the same, sans the disk drive, the Xbox Series S’s exact power in comparison to both its big brother and its competition is still a little ambiguous to me,.
Sure, there are tons of stats and number out there that tell you exactly what these machines are capable of. But look at me, do I seem like a technically minded man? No, I’m an old fashioned kinda guy, I need to see that shit with my own two eyes to actually understand the differences between them and then decide if I want to pick up the big ‘un or the little boi. And then there’s the problem that’s at the forefront of my brain; the storage problem.
Games feel like they’re just getting bigger and bigger. With that in mind it concerns me that the memory available in these consoles isn’t going to be enough to fit purpose without some extra expansion. Let’s do a little comparison based on what information I could find online.
First the PS5, which has roughly 500GB of internal storage. The way Sony are saying their new consoles will work though, you’re not just going to be able to hook up any old external hard drive and still get those faster load times that is the big selling point of this consoles so far. And so you’re going to have to go out in search of a hard drive specifically approved by them that will function with the console. Something that’s going to be both difficult and expensive to find on the early days of the console’s life.
The Xbox might be even more damming though, while the Series X will have about 800GB of storage to play with from the get-go, the Series S, the device that cannot play games from disks, will only have half of that. That seems crazy to me. While the rumour is that games will be smaller file sizes on the S, due to there being no need for 4K assets on the device, I’m looking at games like Modern Warfare on my current hard drive that sit at over 100 GB and wonder how many games I’m actually going to be able to fit on an S if I were to buy one.
Now, Microsoft is saying it’s doing its consumer base a solid and releasing a specifically designed 1TB expandable storage card for the device. It’s a quick and easy solution that just slots in the back of the console, easy for a knuckle dragging moron such as myself to understand. And it’s only going for $220 / £220… Excuse me, what?
Yeah. While the Xbox Series S itself might seem like a steal on the surface, if you’re going to be playing a lot of games (or don’t want to delete games because of your garbage-ass internet speeds) then you’re almost required to upgrade that storage size, and with the consoles themselves costing $299 / £249, a TB expansion card almost costs as much as the console itself. At which there is literally no reason to buy the Series S over the Series X, which is more powerful and has a larger storage capacity from the get go.
Now before anyone comes at me, I get there is a lot we still don’t really know right now. The actual size of these games on our hard drive for example in comparison to the ballooning size of games at the tail end of this current console generation. Plus, these are only day one options for the consoles, and new, more diverse solutions are already in the pipeline.
But with so much information still not clear, It seems like it’s all just proving my point in there being no real reason to buy one of these console right away. What seems like the most prudent solution in my mind to just wait and see which of these devices ends up being the best value for money in practice for my own purposes. What the actual difference in power between the Series S and the Series X is, how well the smart delivery system works, if developers have found better ways to compress the size of games themselves.
So as we stand, I’m still not seeing myself feeling the need to drop any money on one of these for at least six months.