An end to the tit for tat rivalry between Microsoft and Sony promises a much less entertaining start to the next generation of consoles.
In a host of recent interviews, Xbox has heaped praise on long-time competitor PlayStation, both for its past feats and its next-gen plans. It’s a demonstrable departure from the icy co-existence of yesteryear with Microsoft seemingly adopting a more amicable approach to the rivalry.
Despite the merits of the hardware titans ceasing hostilities to further the medium of video games and similarly benevolent notions of community, there’s a sense that an end to the tit for tat feud between the two promises a much less entertaining start to the next generation of consoles.
Xbox Game Studios lead, Matt Booty, said the following when asked about preparations to compete with Sony next-gen:
First of all, Sony’s done a fantastic job just across the board in terms of what they’ve done with building an audience, selling consoles, obviously, a number of amazing, great games that have come out of their first party teams. I try to stay away from framing things as a head-to-head bout with Sony.
Phil Spencer adopted a similarly friendly tone when discussing Sony’s PlayStation 5 plans in an interview at E3 2019;
I like that Mark Cerny and his team at Sony are also investing in an SSD for the PlayStation 5, the engines and tools can implement corresponding functions. Together we will ensure a larger installed base—and developers will do everything possible to master and support the programming of these hardware capabilities.
Microsoft’s new approach may be fueled by a desire to grant Sony the requisite amount of reverence after it trounced Xbox this generation, but there’s a palpable organic shift in the relationship between the two.
The rapprochement doesn’t stop with platitudes uttered within the structured context of interviews. In May, Sony and Microsoft announced they were teaming up in a ‘strategic partnership’ to collaborate on ‘new cloud-based solutions for gaming experiences and AI solutions.’
And while we’ve yet to truly embark on the in-the-trenches next-gen console marketing push, there’s a sense it will be a whole lot more docile this time around.
The idea of a console war brings with it justifiably unsavory connotations, not least infantile partisanship on each side. Nevertheless, the toe-to-toe has produced some veritable gems.
Who can forget PlayStation’s tongue-in-cheek used game instructional video created in response to the Xbox One’s initial restrictive second-hand resale policy?
Or Kevin Butler making a not so subtle dig at the Xbox 360’s Kinect?
Or Jack Tretton lapping up the applause at E3 2013 at Microsoft’s expense?
Or Nintendo and Xbox teaming up to shame PlayStation for not embracing cross-play until very late into the game?
If Sony and Microsoft decide to play nice from now on, we’ll be waving goodbye definitively to these mirthful and mic-drop moments, and gaming feels all the poorer for it.
The silver lining is improved products and services, so it’s not all bad news.