It’s been a few weeks since the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as the Xbox Series S, went live. And yet stupidly hard to find. Even when the action arrives, it feels like you have to sacrifice the blood of a hundred retailers and internet gods before you just get a stock of new stock of game consoles.
And that led me to two conclusions: the first is that the console wars are basically over, and the second is that the “next generation” just hasn’t arrived yet. That may sound bizarre given the talk of the next generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles over the past few months, but let me explain.
All of this is great for Sony and Microsoft to come to terms with how powerful their new consoles are and how they will change your gaming games to the point that your little mind can barely understand. But as impressive as all three consoles are, the fact that you can not get them causes a lot of excitement and messages behind them.
Now the lack of stock of new game consoles, or really other attractive technology, is not surprising in the early days of launching such devices. But the downside of the PS5 and Xbox Series X is over the pale.
While the idea of so-called console wars is ridiculous in general – no matter which console sells the most, both win – it is highly controversial given these shortcomings.
It’s no longer a matter of which new console you buy, it is a matter of buying what you can get if you are not prepared to wait for demand to decline. I think you should wait for 2021 when there are more games and developers they fiat with the new console hardware. But I get a craving for new technology is a powerful coercion.
And with this huge demand, even for the less powered S Series, it means that both Sony and Microsoft have won the war on the console. All three machines are quite a success.
This can change as demand decreases and a company may find it challenging to continuously change console units. But that is unlikely to happen for a while; consider 2022 or 2023.
When it comes to choosing one console over another, both offer different things. The PS5 has an interesting DualSense controller and a longer list of upcoming exclusive games, while the Xbox Series X has stellar compatibility and the Xbox Game Pass set to be boosted by a growing number of developers under the Xbox Game Studios flag. Unlike the latest generation of consoles, this one gives a convincing argument to get both machines, at least when they become easier to hold.
So, in simple terms, that’s the end of the console war, before it even begins. Thank you for coming to my TED talk, read for the second part.
Speaking of this generation
I was slowly moving from using the term “next generation consoles” to “this generation”. But when I stop and think about it, I feel like the PS5 and Xbox Series X are still a lot of next-generation consoles.
I do not know anyone personally outside of gaming media and tech reviewers who have access to any of the new consoles. Until more people have the PS5 and Xbox Series X, or Series S, then the new generation of games really can not start seriously.
And then we have the games. While the Xbox Series X enhances the games that will run on the Xbox One, it does not have games that really make you stand back and shout “**** look at those graphics”. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla looks great, but it’s not a huge step from Red Dead Redemption 2 to my eyes. And, of course, “Demons Souls” is hugely impressive – just ask my colleague Marshall Honoroff – but it’s a remake of a decade-long game.
Without the striking new intellectual qualities or games that new hardware must have to perform, I feel like we are in an awkward situation when we have one foot in the old generation and the other in the new. This is nothing new when it comes to gaming consoles, but there are usually some great exclusives that are early on in announcing the future of gaming consoles.
And computer game fans can sneak up on their powerful hardware, possibly offering next-generation gossip for about a year. But when it comes to downloading the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, it is easier to find an honest person in Parliament than stocking any graphics card. The same goes for the other graphics cards in their family, most recently the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti which sold out in just a few moments.
As such, we are all stuck in a form of uncertainty, where new gaming hardware is being promoted by big companies, but it feels so far out of reach that you can try to get a star out of Orion’s belt.
I hope this will change as the holiday approaches and 2021 begins to peck around the corner. But until that happens, I’m not ready to accept that we’re in the next generation of games.