Is The PS5 Vs Xbox Console War Set To Be More About Software Than Hardware & Will Retailers Miss Out?
Retailers such as JB Hi Fi, EB Games and Harvey Norman were punting on a battle between Microsoft and Sony to drive sales of new generation consoles this Xmas but due to supply issues consumers are tipped to pre order with stock being snapped up as soon they are available, one battle that could hurt retailers is going to centre around new software and subscription sales Vs retail sales of games. .
Analysts claim the big issue in the long term is that Microsoft and Sony are looking to drive software sales directly a move that could hurt games retailers.
Microsoft wants to sell software for multiple devices from PCs and consoles to Samsung smartphones while Sony is concentrating on console sales.
Last week, Xbox grabbed the headlines with its “budget-priced” Series S console, followed swiftly by bolstering its Game Pass offering via a deal with Electronic Arts.
now Sony The Digital Edition of the PlayStation 5 will launch at $599.95 in Australia while the flagship PlayStation 5 model will launch at $749.95.
PlayStation chief Jim Ryan is acutely aware of Microsoft’s emerging software strategy and the Japanese Companies battle with their US competitor is set to be fierce with news filtering through that Sony may well have played up the lack of stock and could well have thousands of units available for the Australian market.
Microsoft games boss Phil Spencer claims that his team wants to focus on allowing allow gamers to play its games across a variety of devices.
“All in all, we have tried to minimise or avoid compromises in the architecture of the systems”.
At this week’s Sony launch event Ryan said “What we want to engage in is what we call the generation approach. “We know it’s not the only model, but it is the one that we like. Other models are possible. It is perfectly legitimate to pursue the approach more around the homogenisation of community, homogenisation of gaming experiences. We like to be a bit more nuanced than that and find a way to give different segments of the community a gaming experience that is more appropriate to their needs.
“What has been key to this has been the emergence over the last years of Worldwide Studios into an absolute powerhouse — a network of studios making great, great games. We’ve been quietly, but very steadily, investing in the largely organic growth of that network.”
Both od Sony’s new PS5 consoles are the same, except one allows you to play discs while the other one does not. Xbox’s two consoles are quite different in capabilities: one is a super-powered, fully 4K next-gen machine, while the other has fewer of the advanced features, but at a significantly reduced price. A price that undercuts PS5 by over $100.
“In terms of the hardware line-up, the thinking behind it was to try and give gamers certainty,” Ryan explains. “Certainty when you look at the SKU configuration. Certainty that they’re buying a true next-generation console. It’s something I’ve said before; it’s important to make clear that they only difference between a PS5 digital edition and a PS5 is the disc drive.
“We think that if gamers are making a decision on a piece of hardware that is going to last them for several years, they want certainty. They want certainty that it’s going to be future proofed. They want certainty that when it comes to upgrade their television to a 4K version, for example, that PS5 will be completely compatible.
“Also, developers, they need to be able to work in an unconstrained manner, and they’ve been telling us for over a year now that PS5 allows them to do that. Equally, they’ve been telling us how intrigued and delighted by the PS5 feature set [they are]. All in all, we have tried to minimise or avoid compromises in the architecture of the systems.”
Ryan said that the console will launch with the Sackboy platformer (for the families), Demon’s Souls (for the core fans) and the new Spider-Man (for, well, everyone). He claims It’s a significantly stronger launch slate than its competitor.
“Year seven has been comfortably the best-ever line-up of exclusive PlayStation games, in any of the generations we’ve done”
Speaking to Games Industry in the UK Ryan said “We look at it two ways. We have the PS4 community, which is going to be incredibly important to us for many years to come,” Ryan says. “It will be tens of millions strong and we’ve never been closer to them than this year. I’m thrilled that Worldwide Studios has been able to provide for that community, in what for us, in year seven, has been comfortably the best-ever line-up of exclusive PlayStation games, in any of the generations we’ve done. And we’d submit that it’s arguably the best year seven line-up of exclusives from any platform.
“We intend to keep that going and to love and respect the PS4 community, while at the same time recognising that millions of gamers are ready to — and want to — move into a world of game experiences that are only possible on PS5. It was very nice to be able to demonstrate that [last night]. Again, here Worldwide Studios is excelling, and the line-up of exclusive games — either at launch or in the launch window — is by far the strongest that we’ve ever had on any new console.
“We tried to give a sense of that. You would certainly get the progress that has been made with the games you saw a few months back. There was real substance to the demonstrations. There were really strong and powerful presentations. And they’re very important to us as we have to talk about the business side of things, the numbers side of things, just to ensure that that’s going to be well accompanied by demonstration of great next-generation gameplay.”
Games Industry said that If there was one surprise out of the PS5 event, it was the PlayStation Plus Collection. People who subscribe to Sony’s PS Plus subscription service — a requirement for playing online — will receive a large slate of PS4 games, including some of its biggest first-party releases alongside a selection of third-party titles.
“The great first-party IPs are all there, the great partner titles, and we’d say that if you are new to PlayStation, or if you didn’t have a PS4 but are getting a PS5, and you’re taking out a PS Plus subscription, you’re basically getting PS4 there for the price of the subscription,” Ryan says. “We’re delighted to be able to do that. We think that’s really exciting and we hope that people were surprised and delighted by that.”
The PS Plus Collection is not a replacement for Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming/subs service. It’s a separate offering, and one that looks to counter some of the appeal offered by Xbox Game Pass. Xbox, of course, is all in on the subscription play, putting all of its games onto the service on the day they’re released. We’ve spoken to Ryan about whether PlayStation might follow suit before, and his answer remains the same.
“We are not going to put new releases into a subscription model. These games cost well over $100m to develop. We just don’t see that that is sustainable”
That news might come as a relief to specialist games retail, which has seen the move to digital business models accelerate exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the news that the digital-only PS5 is a full $100 cheaper than the one with the disc drive must come as a disappointment, especially just a week after Xbox revealed its significantly more affordable digital-only machine.
“We’re not having any problem with specialist retail stocking this model,” Ryan continues. “It’s interesting, there is quite a nice ecosystem that’s sprung up for specialist retail, around selling cash cards for people who don’t have a credit card… There’s a list of reasons why people need these cards. I don’t want to get into the back and forth of the margin discussions between ourselves and our retailers, but we think we’ve found a way to make that work together.”
PlayStation’s relationship with retail is one of the reasons it hasn’t felt the need to counter another of Xbox’s new initiatives: All Access. Xbox is allowing its customers to purchase a new console, complete with Game Pass access, for a monthly fee. That might prove useful considering the current economic climate, but Ryan observes that this is already possible with PlayStation systems.