Sony and Microsoft are playing different card games | Gamesindustry.biz

Equanimity

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Oct 27, 2017
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We know a lot more about both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X this week than we did last week. Both Sony and Microsoft have started laying cards on the table; the similarities between their devices -- which both derive from essentially the same AMD-sourced CPU and GPU architecture -- have been known for a long time, but now we're starting to see the all-important differences.
The merits of the big technical differences -- the Series X has a notably punchier GPU, while the PS5 has opted for a significantly faster SSD -- are going to be hotly debated by experts for months, and even more hotly debated by clueless people for literally years. While I don't wish to understate the technical edge Microsoft's hardware has in this match-up -- about 20% more raw graphical power, it seems -- the reality is that we won't know for certain how much of a difference these hardware design decisions have made until we start seeing finished games running on production hardware, which remains months away.
What's arguably just as interesting as the cards we're starting to see laid on the table, then, is which cards are being laid and when. Microsoft and Sony are playing very different games in this regard; the former is being extremely open, to the point of having allowed the media to play with and film a "snap-together" version of its Xbox Series X hardware showing all the internal components, not to mention having shown off final console and controller designs, and a number of core features of the new system software.
Sony, by contrast, is playing a more traditional game. We know more about PS5 after Mark Cerny's presentation this week -- we know a lot more detail about its hardware performance and functionality -- but we have yet to see much of the consumer-relevant stuff about the console. We don't know about its price, of course -- muttered rumours about trouble with keeping down the manufacturing costs aside -- but we also don't know about the system software, the launch exclusives, or crucially, the physical design of the hardware.
Why, then, is Microsoft opting to lay so many of its cards on the table so early in the game? The simple answer is that it's doing so because it can; its previous generation of consoles underperformed badly in the market and, as a result, it doesn't have to worry about stepping on its own long tail. It can whip up early hype for the next generation safe in the knowledge that it wasn't selling enough units of the current generation system to need to worry about deferring customers' purchases -- a rather different calculation to the one faced by Sony, which would still rather like to sell many more million units of the PS4.
Why, then, hasn't Sony brought forward its announcement schedule to rob Microsoft of some of these early-mover advantages? Firstly, as mentioned above, Sony still finds itself somewhat restricted by the ongoing success of PS4 -- it doesn't want to wreck the existing console's last major year in the market by beating the drum too hard, too soon for its successor. Secondly, the reality remains that Sony is the market leader by a huge margin, and while it has thankfully learned not to make silly pronouncements like "the next generation begins when we say it does" this time around, it also likely doesn't want to be seen to cede that leadership position by being overly reactive to what its competitors are doing. It no doubt laid its plans for revealing and promoting the new system many months ago, and doesn't intend to divert from that timeline just because Microsoft is revealing details far earlier than usual.
More in the opinion piece
 

GING-SAMA

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Jul 10, 2019
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User banned (1 month): Platform wars. History of similar behavior.
I don't think Xbox Series X need damage control.
 

Lowrys

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Oct 25, 2017
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My inexpert view is that the differences between these two enormously powerful consoles will be negligible when it comes to the user experience.
 

PetyrBaeless

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Apr 3, 2019
68
If the XSX is the strong machine we presume it will be, it'll be the superior console for third party games.

If Sony still has better first parties, they'll sell more (again).
 

Binabik15

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Oct 28, 2017
1,623
I guess Sony really is shy about things like DS5 that they must've spent tons of money on (and of course games) to not take attention away from their upcoming games.

They probably don't want this: "Hey, the new triggers can make it feel like you're really drawing a bow! But buy Ghost of Tsushima next month were you won't have that cool experience you should buy a PSt for!"


I don't think that it'd hinder the upcoming PS4 games, though. Not nearly as much as doing basically fuck all marketing for Dreams, at least.
 

Baked Pigeon

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Oct 27, 2017
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Phoenix
I remember Phil Spencer saying that a lady on the marketing team wanted to to something bold and different then what they usually do. It seems to be working, so give that lady a raise.
 

pswii60

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Oct 27, 2017
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XSX's power defines the narrative surrounding the next generation of Xbox, bit following the early adoption period it'll be the lower cost Lockhart that dominates Xbox sales.

It's Microsoft's wildcard and hasn't even been announced yet. Really intrigued to see how Microsoft handles it regarding messaging etc. That's if Lockhart even is what we think it is.

Will be a very different generation, especially with streaming likely to be playing an increasing part, everyone seemingly porting to PC these days, ecosystem wars and subscription services.
 

Mudo

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Oct 25, 2017
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I feel like it’s all going to mostly wash in the end.

Games will be stunning on both systems, especially first party.

While a stronger GPU is always a good thing, I must admit I am more interested to see how companies use PS5’s notably faster SSD. I’m not sure how that will translate into things I see in games, but developers seem VERY excited about it.

Exciting times ahead. I can’t wait to own both of these :)
 

iAMr229

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Oct 27, 2017
2,985
This will be a interesting gen for Sony. It'll purely be about games for them since they don't have the power crown this time but heh that's Sony's strong area so they'll be good I guess.
 

Kemono

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Oct 27, 2017
2,631
Remains to be seen, ray tracing might have a noticeable advantage on the XSX.
I'm sorry but ray tracing is going to be shit on the next gen consoles. Even with my 2080ti ray tracing is extremely costly in terms of performance.

There's a reason they've shown minecraft in 1080p to show the feature off.

Ray tracing will be used in some ways but more in certain scenes where it would have the most impact. Better shadows, some better lighing here and there and even a reflection or two.

People who hope to see ray tracing like in the minecraft demo for big aaa titles like gears 6 or halo will be dissapointed. Not even in 1080p and there's no way in hell ms will release a flagship title in 1080p.
 

Zedark

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Oct 25, 2017
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Remains to be seen, ray tracing might have a noticeable advantage on the XSX.
Do we know anything about the RT hardware included? The CU count is 44% higher on XSX. Is RT hardware included per CU or is it separate from that count? In the former case, the XSX would have the advantage, whereas in the latter the PS5 might just have it (due to higher clocks), right?
 

rokkerkory

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Jun 14, 2018
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XSX's power defines the narrative surrounding the next generation of Xbox, bit following the early adoption period it'll be the lower cost Lockhart that dominates Xbox sales.

It's Microsoft's wildcard and hasn't even been announced yet. Really intrigued to see how Microsoft handles it regarding messaging etc. That's if Lockhart even is what we think it is.

Will be a very different generation, especially with streaming likely to be playing an increasing part, everyone seemingly porting to PC these days, ecosystem wars and subscription services.
XsX was more powerful than some of us expected maybe XsS will be as well. With rdna2 no less it might be a great option for the masses.
 

Blue Skies

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Mar 27, 2019
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My inexpert view is that the differences between these two enormously powerful consoles will be negligible when it comes to the user experience.
yup. just like PS360, and PS4One
only difference will ever be in: Playability of old games, and availability of new games. and with all the studio acquisitions Microsoft has done, they'll be more even matched this time around. either way, Assassins creed 12 and Nba 2k22 are all gonna play and look basically the same.
 

Jayembi

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Jun 19, 2019
169
It's good that they put the cards on the table and say that being more "open" is completely related to the failure of this generation. Context is important.


In the coming months sony will start with the marketing machinery at full speed.
 

ArkhamFantasy

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Oct 25, 2017
8,118
The plastic shell around the console is one of the least important factors, the timing of which they show it is even less so. None of this stuff is going to matter when people are making their decisions on which console to buy.
 

TimPV3

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Oct 30, 2017
293
Not relevant but these interactions keep bugging me:

"faster SSD won't make a difference because everyone aims for the lowest common denominator" but then "12 TF is so much better than 10.28 TF"
 
Aug 26, 2018
1,739
3 big differences:

Xbox will focus heavily on PCs, xCloud and Accessories in the new generation.

1. Take a look at the Top 35 Global top sellers on Steam, there are 5 Xbox IPs. This is a fundamental shift.

https://store.steampowered.com/search/?os=win&filter=globaltopsellers&ignore_preferences=1

2. xCloud is available on PCs, iOS and Android. In 1-2 years, there will be 200 Million+ 5G devices in the world and with a few clever partnerships with Samsung, Xiaomi, Huaweietc. , xCloud could be pre-installed on all these devices and bring in 10s of millions of Xbox Live users with millions in paying Gamepass subcribers.

3. Look at accessories, Elite Series 2, proprietary SSD partnership with Seagate,Xbox design labs etc. Don't be surprised if they start coming up with more accessories for the next gen like headphones etc.

Look at Amazon US best sellers lists, Xbox One SAD Edition is doing pretty well, a lot of gamers at this point are willing to go all digital, so higher profits on their games.
 
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Terbinator

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,663
It's good that they put the cards on the table and say that being more "open" is completely related to the failure of this generation. Context is important.


In the coming months sony will start with the marketing machinery at full speed.
Market position is clearly part of it, but MS asna company have been shifting that way as a business too.
 

Jedi2016

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,109
Le sigh.

Let's face it, how many people are out there who are legitimately up in the air as to which one they're going to buy? How many people out there would consider switching from one to another based solely on the spec sheet? How many PS4 owners will completely give up on Sony to jump ship to Xbox because of it? Especially with BC being a thing on both systems this time around. Jumping ship means leaving your entire game library behind.

Consumers' minds are already made up. They have been for years. A couple numbers on a piece of paper isn't going to make them switch. Xbox is marketing to Xbox fans, and Playstation is marketing to Playstation fans. They're not trying to snipe each other.

Card games? They're both playing solitaire.
 

Bold One

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Oct 30, 2017
9,346
I mean, no one expected them to reveal it (by showing the console itself, and then a game for it no less) at TGAs. Seems pretty different, and given how far ahead of launch it was, bold. Not sure why you’re being intentionally obtuse.
Not being intentionally obtuse about anything, when I hear "bold and different", I dont take that to mean ahead of schedule.

So if its just semantics, fine, no need to make this into a thing. There's been enough toxicity in these parts in recent days.
 

Dinjoralo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,716
I guess Sony really is shy about things like DS5 that they must've spent tons of money on (and of course games) to not take attention away from their upcoming games.

They probably don't want this: "Hey, the new triggers can make it feel like you're really drawing a bow! But buy Ghost of Tsushima next month were you won't have that cool experience you should buy a PSt for!"


I don't think that it'd hinder the upcoming PS4 games, though. Not nearly as much as doing basically fuck all marketing for Dreams, at least.
This is a good point. Microsoft doesn't have to worry about overshadowing current game releases, simultaneously because of full backwards compatibility, cross-gen releases, and probably Gamepass.
Now I'm wondering what games will be backwards compatible for PS5 on launch. Surely the 100+ PS4 games would include first-party stuff coming out right now like Ghost of Tsushima, right?
 

FallenGrace

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,550
"-- are going to be hotly debated by experts for months, and even more hotly debated by clueless people for literally years."

That has been this place for days. It's been insufferable console warring by fan boys, the impatient and people with no reading comprehension. I haven't put so many threads on ignore since this site started. It's been embarrassing....
 
Oct 28, 2019
349
This is about as definitive of an opinion about the next gen consoles you can have without showing bias. Clearly there isn't enough information to call a winner or even and advantage yet, but the zelots from the churches of PlayStation and Xbox will still find ways to argue. Good article.
 

SgtCobra

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Oct 25, 2017
2,086
This is a good point. Microsoft doesn't have to worry about overshadowing current game releases, simultaneously because of full backwards compatibility, cross-gen releases, and probably Gamepass.
Now I'm wondering what games will be backwards compatible for PS5 on launch. Surely the 100+ PS4 games would include first-party stuff coming out right now like Ghost of Tsushima, right?
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,837
Hey man, reading comprehension is hard.
 

jroc74

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,645
"-- are going to be hotly debated by experts for months, and even more hotly debated by clueless people for literally years."

That has been this place for days. It's been insufferable console warring by fan boys, the impatient and people with no reading comprehension. I haven't put so many threads on ignore since this site started. It's been embarrassing....
That and my ignore list, whew....lol.

I used to be like....why ignore someone. The speculation threads was the answer.
 
Dec 4, 2017
5,634
Brazil
Why, then, is Microsoft opting to lay so many of its cards on the table so early in the game? The simple answer is that it's doing so because it can; its previous generation of consoles underperformed badly in the market and, as a result, it doesn't have to worry about stepping on its own long tail. It can whip up early hype for the next generation safe in the knowledge that it wasn't selling enough units of the current generation system to need to worry about deferring customers' purchases -- a rather different calculation to the one faced by Sony, which would still rather like to sell many more million units of the PS4.
MS has every reason to start a new generation, Sony don't. Its just that.
 

SG-17

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,843
I mean the difference in raw power (not including the SSD) is around 15-17%, which is the smallest gap in power we've had in all of the years that PlayStation and Xbox have both been on the market, smallest by a lot actually.

IIRC, the difference between the PS4 and launch XB1 was around 40% and the PS4 Pro and XB1X around 45%, and its the percentages that matter here.
 
OP
OP
Equanimity

Equanimity

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,985
London
I'm sorry but ray tracing is going to be shit on the next gen consoles. Even with my 2080ti ray tracing is extremely costly in terms of performance.

There's a reason they've shown minecraft in 1080p to show the feature off.

Ray tracing will be used in some ways but more in certain scenes where it would have the most impact. Better shadows, some better lighing here and there and even a reflection or two.

People who hope to see ray tracing like in the minecraft demo for big aaa titles like gears 6 or halo will be dissapointed. Not even in 1080p and there's no way in hell ms will release a flagship title in 1080p.
Performance penalty with RT enabled will reduce overtime. We have seen vast improvements in the PC space already.

Devs will utilize RT tools in the coming years.

What Microsoft showed shouldn't be downplayed. It's not the game, it's the type of implementation that should excite us, running on considered. DF:
What's impressive about this is that it's fully path-traced. Aside from the skybox and the moon in the demo we saw, there are no rasterised elements whatsoever. The entire presentation is ray traced, demonstrating that despite the constraints of having to deliver RT in a console with a limited power and silicon budget, Xbox Series X is capable of delivering the most ambitious, most striking implementation of ray tracing - and it does so in real time.
Do we know anything about the RT hardware included? The CU count is 44% higher on XSX. Is RT hardware included per CU or is it separate from that count? In the former case, the XSX would have the advantage, whereas in the latter the PS5 might just have it (due to higher clocks), right?
Afaik, DF inside Xbox Series X article doesn't have an answer to your question. But I've read (Resetera posts) that RT performance is tied to the CU count in RDNA2 architecture.