Samuel Brace on whether PlayStation’s bare autumn could help Xbox to close the gap…
PlayStation is winning. There is no doubt about it. In all likelihood the Sony console is 10 million units ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox One. Now, Xbox isn’t doing badly, not by any stretch of the imagination, but PlayStation 4 — for whatever reason — is just doing crazy numbers. It has already out sold both the original Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube. But will any of this change come autumn? Will any of this change when Xbox unleash their hefty line up of exclusives while PlayStation unleash… well, nothing really. Autumn is looking pretty bare for Sony, while Microsoft has Rise of the Tomb Raider (timed exclusive), Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Forza and Halo 5. PlayStation has maybe, possibly, No Man’s Sky but really even that probably won’t come out this year. The real question is will any of this have an effect? Or at least one that is substantial?
We as a gaming community have been watching and waiting, waiting to see if PlayStation would announce something, a game or two, exclusives just to supplement the cross platform titles that are on the way. But as yet nothing has reared its head. It seems Xbox is going to have a clear run at things all the way up until the winter months. Whether this will be enough to close the gap between the two consoles is pretty unlikely however. With games like Fallout 4 on the way — available on both consoles — there’s plenty of reason to still buy a Ps4. PlayStation hasn’t exactly been brimming with exclusive must buys so far in its cycle and it hasn’t affected its numbers at all. Somehow, no one cares.
If this is the case, if none of this turns out to affect the console landscape come year’s end, what does that say about this aspect of the industry? What does it all mean? If nothing happens in turns of the gap, then perhaps the exclusives demise would be the most salient thing to extract from all of this, that its importance might be heading further towards irrelevance. People have the consoles they like and maybe they aren’t likely to change just to get their hands on Halo, Gears, Uncharted etc. We will have to wait and see and it’s actually kind of exciting that Sony’s autumn is turning out to be pretty dry. Just in terms of seeing what Xbox can do, if they can do anything.
Xbox kind of fluffed (to put it lightly) the launch of their console. With an original game plan that always seemed quite injudicious, they ultimately back tracked on their original vision of a supreme media centre and moved their focus back to what got them to the dance in the first place. PS4 on the other hand, connected with gamers immediately. Their mission statement upon launch was clear: we’re going to make hardware for games — the other stuff just comes as an added bonus. Xbox has no doubt gotten things back on track lately but these coming months in the run up to Christmas will be crucial. Will people buy an Xbox One just for Lara Croft, knowing that it will be out on PS4 a year later? I’m not so sure. Will they fork out hundreds just for Gears remastered? I suspect those people probably already have an Xbox One anyway. Halo 5 is the one that screams out here but will that alone be enough to make more than a dent in the monstrous gap between them and Sony? Time will tell I suppose.
Whatever happens it’s going to be interesting, it’s really now or never for Xbox. Sure they can say they are playing the long game, that they are hoping to reverse positions with PlayStation just like Sony did with them last generation, but if they can’t close the gap in any significant way, under these most favourable of circumstances, then perhaps the public’s mind is already made up. Perhaps PlayStation has already won. We will see, maybe No Man’s Sky will come out after all and none of this will mean much of anything. I wouldn’t count on it though.