The next-gen consoles have now been out for about six months and are both still selling like crazy. If you’re looking out at the consoles and trying to figure out which one is right for you then I’ve got the quick guide for you:
Determine what’s important to you in a console and what your play habits will be. Here’s the key questions to figure out:
If you like gaming with friends, where do they play?
The answer is easy if they all play on one console, that’s the direction that you’ll likely be most happy heading in. However, if you’re looking at a friend group that spread between consoles and PC, it may help to realize the difference in approach to cross play for Playstation and Xbox. Xbox is focused on providing gamers with many places to play and taking their games between systems and encouraging cross-play. Playstation, so far has not had a big focus on putting their games other places or allowing much cross-play.
What genre(s) of games do you enjoy?
Each console certainly has their strengths. If you’re looking for a console focused on big cinematic action adventure games or E rated adventures, look no further than Playstation. If you’re looking for big role-playing games, massive first person shooters, top notch racing games or all the sports games you can handle, then Xbox is the place for you.
If your interests lie outside those, take a look at this list of Xbox games and this list of Playstation games to see what meets your fancy.
What is your anticipated gaming budget for the year?
If you’re on a budget and looking to spend as little as possible to get a next generation and games, take a look at the Series S, which is $100 cheaper than the next options and bundle it with Xbox Gamepass to get a library of over 300 games for a $15/month subscription. Otherwise, both consoles are comparably priced and offer free multiplayer on free to play games, so if budgets no issue, move to the next question.
What features do you want from your next gen console?
The consoles both offer high level graphical fidelity and stable high frame rate per second. The graphics will be as good as the developers designing the games though, so if the best looking games are your focus, Playstation may have the edge solely due to their cinematic focus of their top tier developers. Third party games have not had much parity one way or the other thus far, with certain games performing better on Playstation and certain others better on Xbox.
Aside from graphics and frame rate, you may want to look at controllers, Playstation has a few more new features implemented such as adaptive triggers (will feel the resistance of the trigger). Xbox has the edge on the software side with the best software feature of the new generation with multi-game quick resume (hop instantly into where you last were in a game).
If you want to check out the full features, check them out in PC Mag’s excellent feature roundup.
Is backward compatibility important to you?
The two companies have very different current philosophies on backwards compatibility. Sony has been pushing to remaster some of their top tier releases from the past to bring them into the future, but are not supporting backwards computability of their greater catalogue. Xbox has pushed and supported backwards compatibility very hard and rather than focusing on a few remasters, has focused on software to automate upgrading the frame rates and resolutions of a number of games over the past six months (they’re up to 47 games that they’ve upgraded to 120 fps this way). Xbox is continuing to make backwards compatibility a pre-requisite moving forward in any of their future designs.
Are you concerned with owning the games or just playing them?
Sony and Xbox are both taking strategies to improve their services and align them for the future, but are again taking different paths. Playstation seems to be aligning their strategy with their Playstation Plus service that gives free games monthly (but note you need to be subscribed to keep access to the games). Xbox is very clearly pushing their Xbox Gamepass service, which is aiming to be the crowning, must have gaming service.
Xbox Gamepass now offers over 350 games, including all Xbox first party games day 1 and recently has been adding big indie and third party games day 1. They recently announced their Xcloud launch to over a billion devices including Android, iOS and PC, so a bunch of the games (current list here) with you wherever you are.