The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have emerged as the two defining consoles of a generation. Since being released within a week of each other in November 2013, they have gone on to dominate the gaming market, selling in excess of 150 million units between them.
While the PS4 accounts for more than two thirds of that total, competition between the two has undoubtedly strengthened the burgeoning gaming industry, now thought to be worth more than $150 million.
There were six consoles produced by Sony and Microsoft this generation, and we won’t have to wait long before both companies release major upgrades. In this article, we put the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X up against each other, in an attempt to determine which we prefer based on what we know so far.
Both consoles have been confirmed to launch during ‘Holiday 2020’ by their respective companies, but we don’t have anything more specific beyond that.
Different versions of both consoles are expected, but their release will likely be staggered throughout their life cycles, usually to ensure there’s no more than three years between new devices, so it’s likely that there will only be one version of each at the initial launch.
The design of the Xbox Series X has been confirmed by Microsoft, with a tall, narrow chassis reminiscent of modern PC towers.
This is a real departure from previous Xbox consoles, which have all loosely retained the same design. However, it should still be able to slot nicely into your existing home entertainment setup, with Microsoft having confirmed that the console can be placed horizontally or vertically.
Design-wise, Sony is yet to announce anything concrete beyond the name and branding of its console, so we really have no idea on what the final version of the PS5 will look like.
However, there have been some pretty convincing leaks regarding the design of the PS5 controller, widely expected to be called the DualShock 5. New features could include a larger touchpad, dedicated back paddles and a built-in microphone.
Both consoles will undoubtedly include fairly substantial performance boosts over their predecessors. The PS5 and Xbox Series X will both be sporting AMD’s Ryzen CPUs, with a GPU from the same manufacturer to match. On paper the Xbox hits harder – with 12 teraflops of GPU performance to the PS5’s 10, and a 3.8GHz CPU compared to 3.5GHz from Sony, but the Japanese giant has emphasised that its figures represent performance levels the PlayStation 5 will hit almost all the time, while Microsoft’s are simply peak performance, and not typical of normal usage.
It’s also clear that both Sony and Microsoft are eager to ditch the spinning hard drives on current-gen consoles, in favour of the more efficient SSDs, though Sony has opted for a faster drive that should mean quicker game loads and easier game development compared to Microsoft’s offering. On RAM the two are effectively identical though, with 16GB GDDR6 apiece.
Expandable storage differs though. Microsoft has partnered with Seagate to offer custom expandable memory cards using a proprietary format. By contrast Sony has said that it will support off-the-shelf internal M.2 storage, but with one caveat: cards will need to be the right size and speed to be supported, so don’t go stocking up on M.2 drives just yet, as the company is yet to reveal which cards will work.
Both consoles should support ray tracing and 3D audio, and both tout their ability to run games at 8K, to support the new wave of 8K TVs.
Godfall has been confirmed as the first console game exclusive to the PlayStation 5. The fantasy RPG’s release is set to coincide with the PS5 coming out, so look out for the game towards the end of 2020.
As for the Xbox, we know it’ll get Halo Infinite, which is set to be a launch title, but that’s about it for now. We don’t have any further news on games coming to either console, so we’ll have to wait and see what Sony and Microsoft have in store in the run up to their respective release dates.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 5 could be one of the first major cross-platform releases to release on next-gen consoles, with its rumoured late 2020 release date coinciding with when the new consoles come out.
As with current-gen consoles, we’d expect a number of games to be exclusive to each console. The PS5 could build on the success of the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War and Spider-Man to provide sequels, while we expect the Xbox Series X to continue the successful Forza and Halo series, while offering new experiences with the likes of Everwild.
Both consoles will also support backwards compatibility, to encourage players to stick with their brand of choice. Microsoft has also promised that any compatible game will run on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X from just one purchase – so you won’t have to buy any game twice to play it again on the next-gen console.
We have relatively few details to go on so far, but we’d give the edge to the Xbox Series X at this stage.
Of course, producing a worthy successor to the wildly successful PlayStation 4 is no mean feat, and it’s likely that the PS5 will be very easy to recommend to gaming fanatics.
But the Xbox’s expected performance edge, as well as concrete design info, means it just about comes out on top at this very early stage.
Of course, this is all subject to change. Ultimately both consoles will be powerhouses running the latest and greatest in gaming technology, and it will probably make sense to stick with your current console provider.