The PlayStation 5's lack of power, premium pricing, and Xbox Series X's backward compatibility could make the former a flop show.
Sony has won the ongoing console war hands down. The PlayStation 4 has outsold rival Microsoft’s Xbox One by a huge margin, but the Japanese giant might not be able to recreate the magic with the PlayStation 5 with the way things are going right now. It has emerged that the next-generation gaming console from Sony that’s set for launch this holiday season could be 30 percent less powerful than Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.
Citing test data from GitHub, a Eurogamer report points out that Sony’s PS5 could deploy 36 custom Navi compute units running GDDR6 memory at a maximum speed of 512 GB/second. This would give the PlayStation 5 a GPU (graphics processing unit) power of 9.2 teraflops.
Sony’s spec pales in comparison to Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, which is expected to employ 56 custom Navi GPU units that will reportedly run at a maximum speed of 560 GB/second. This will give the Xbox Series X 12 teraflops of GPU computing power that might go up to 12.2 GB/second.
This gives Microsoft’s Xbox Series X a clear advantage over the PlayStation 5 if the leaked specs turn out to be true. It may be true that raw power is not the only factor that might make or break a console. The content library and pricing are some of the other critical points that will go into defining the success of the Xbox Series X or the PS5.
The bad news for Sony is that Microsoft could be ahead of the curve on both these fronts as the grapevine tells us.
Microsoft had made a mistake during the launch of the Xbox One. It priced the console at $499, setting a high entry barrier for potential customers as the PS4 was launched a full $100 cheaper. Microsoft had to alter its strategy and brought out an entry-level model to move the needle. The company is likely to avoid that mistake this time around and go toe-to-toe with Sony as far as pricing is concerned.
IHS Markit analyst Piers Harding-Rolls predicts that Sony’s PlayStation 5 will be launched at a higher price point as compared to the PS4. He expects the Xbox Series X to follow suit with a higher price this time, though Harding-Rolls does add that Microsoft could come out with a “less powerful, cheaper version” to lower the sticker price.
If Microsoft follows a two-pronged product strategy, it could offer more value for money over Sony’s PlayStation 5. That’s because Microsoft will probably have the luxury to reduce power and still be at par with Sony’s PS5 if the recent spec leaks hold any water.
The Xbox Series X’s value-for-money proposition against the PlayStation 5 could be strengthened further considering that Microsoft has been expanding its library of games. The Xbox Series X has a major advantage over the PS5 because it is backward-compatible with previous-generation Xbox consoles. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, wrote in a blog post last month:
Xbox Series X will be our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility, allowing you to bring your gaming legacy, thousands of games from three generations and more forward with you.
This means that gaming enthusiasts who had bought earlier generations of Xbox consoles could find their old library of games on the Series X as well. So those buying the Xbox Series X might start playing their favorite games as soon as they boot up the device.
This is another big advantage for Xbox Series X over the PlayStation 5. Sony had abandoned backward-compatibility when it launched the PS4. For the PS5, Sony’s sources claim that the device could be backward-compatible with PS4 games, though there is no clarity if the new console could support older generation games.
So, Microsoft has an advantage as it is promising backward-compatibility with older Xbox consoles. This means that, in theory, Microsoft’s gaming library could be much bigger than the PlayStation 5. What’s more, the lure of playing collectible games from the past could tilt the balance in the Xbox Series X’s favor.
In the end, the Xbox Series X seems to be pulling the right strings as far as pricing, power, and content are concerned. If all that’s promised or rumored right now is delivered by Microsoft at the end of the year, the PlayStation 5 could be dead in the water.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:40 PM UTC