How do Xbox and PlayStation stack up against each other when it comes to what are probably the most crucial factors in purchasing decisions?
In our previous features pitting the PS5 and Xbox Series X against each other, we’ve spoken about everything from the consoles’ specs, to their controllers, to the services and features they will offer at launch. But now, Sony and Microsoft have both unveiled the details that’ll be the most crucial to anyone deciding whether or not buy a new console, or which of them to pick up at launch- their prices and the games that will be available on them off the bat. Here, that’s what we’ll be focusing on. So without further ado, let’s get started.
The price is perhaps the single most crucial factor that most people consider when making purchasing decisions, and both Sony and Microsoft have gone with some rather compelling prices for their next-gen consoles. There are a lot of factors to consider her, but if you cut right to the chase and ask which next-gen console is the cheapest of them all, the answer is simple- the Xbox Series S.
The Xbox Series S is launching for $299, which is a ridiculously compelling price for a next-gen console, especially right at launch. But, as you’d expect, that comes with a caveat- though the console will be using Microsoft’s much-touted next-gen Velocity Architecture, it will be making several sacrifices to its specs to get to its lower price.
The RAM and GPU in particular have significant deficiencies as compared to the Xbox Series X, which is the flagship next-gen Xbox, while the Series S won’t be capable of delivering 4K visuals, and will instead be targeting 1440p resolutions at up to 120 FPS (though as the generation progresses, the resolutions could go down to 1080p). Still, you will be able to play all next-gen games on the console, and for that, its $299 price is extremely good, especially if you don’t care much for the technical side of things.
The cheapest console after the Series S is the PS5 Digital Edition, which costs $399- though it’s worth noting that for $100 more, that offers significantly stronger hardware. The PS5 Digital Edition, as its name suggest, is an all-digital console without a disc drive, just like the Xbox Series S, but unlike its competitor, it hasn’t made any other cutbacks. From the impressive SSD to the next-gen GPU and CPU, and in every other way imaginable, the PS5 Digital Edition is identical to the PS5 model that comes with a disc drive.
And how costly is that model? The flagship PS5, the one with a disc drive, will retail for $499. The $100 gap between the two variants is nothing to scoff at, especially when you consider the fact that digital media is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on. It is worth noting that you won’t be able to lay your PS4 discs on the PS5 Digital Edition, while other options, such as buying used games or waiting on retail discounts for certain games, will also become unavailable to you- but if you’re looking to save a chunk of cash while buying the console, the Digital Edition makes a very compelling argument.
Also priced at $499 is the Xbox Series X, which is also significantly more powerful than the Series S, and will be Microsoft’s flagship next-gen console, complete with 4K gaming, and a much more future-proof RAM and GPU. The PS5 Digital Edition is a fierce competitor for the Xbox Series X though, because for $100 less, it is going to offer a console that will be on more or less equal footing in terms of power and hardware. The Digital Edition is, essentially, providing stiff competition to both the Xbox Series S and Series X at the same time.
Microsoft do, however, an ace in the hole that might sway a lot of people in the Xbox’s direction- that’s Xbox All-Access, their financing program. For no up-front cost and monthly instalments paid over 24 months, Xbox All-Access will allow you to purchase either an Xbox Series S or an Xbox Series X, either one bundled with 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. For Xbox Series S, those instalments are going to be $25 per month, while for the Series S, they will be $35 per month. Xbox All-Access will only be available in twelve countries though- the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Poland, South Korea, Finland, Denmark, and Norway.
When it comes to the launch lineup, comparisons between the PS5 and Xbox Series X / Series S are much more boring, because honestly, there isn’t an awful lot to talk about. On paper, there’s quite a few major games coming to both systems at launch, but the vast majority of them are not only going to be multiplatform releases, but also cross-gen releases that will also be available on PS4 and Xbox One, which means they’re not exactly reasons to go out and buy a new console.
So let’s get those out of the way first- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, Destiny 2: Beyond Light, and DiRT 5 are going to be available on both consoles at launch. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is also a PS5 launch title, but the only reason it isn’t an Xbox Series X launch title is a pure technicality (the console launches less than half a week before the game)- it’ll be available on both consoles on the same day. The Xbox Series X is getting Yakuza: Like a Dragon at launch, though the PS5 won’t be getting it until later in the year (which is curious, because the PS4 and Xbox One will be getting the game in November itself).
The PS5 has plenty of first party launch titles that obviously won’t be available on Xbox. Sony has confirmed that Demon’s Souls, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Astro’s Playroom, and Destruction AllStars are all going to be available on PS5 at launch. There are some caveats to consider here as well though. Astro’s Playroom is essentially a tech demo for the DualSense’s capabilities, and will be bundled with all PS5 consoles. Meanwhile, Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are both launching for the PS4 as well. There’s also Godfall, developed by Counterplay Games and published by Gearbox, but that’s coming to PC as well. That means that the only flat-out exclusive game the PS5 is launching with that will not be available on any other system whatsoever is Demon’s Souls.
The Xbox Series X / Series S doesn’t fare much better. Gears Tactics will be getting its console launch on November 10, but that game has been available on PC since April, and will also be available on Xbox One. The Falconeer is an Xbox Series X launch title, but it’s also coming to Xbox One and PC. Tetris Effect: Connected is coming on November 10 as well, but that’s an expanded re-release of a 2018 game, and the new multiplayer content will be coming to PC and PS4 less than a year from now. Meanwhile, Bloober Team’s ambitious horror title The Medium is due out this Holiday, but the developer hasn’t yet confirmed whether it will be able to hit the console’s November 10 launch. Whenever the game does release, it will also be available on PC.
So where does that leave us? If you want to make a decision based on launch titles, neither the PS5 nor the Xbox makes a very compelling argument. Honestly, other than Demon’s Souls’ remake, there is no other game that you can’t get anywhere else, so by default, there aren’t a lot of system sellers. If you’re excited enough for the Demon’s Souls remake to go out and get a PS5 at launch, that’s great- outside of that though, every game available on the PS5 and Xbox Series X is going to be available on current-gen consoles.
If, however, you’re more concerned about price, the decision you have to make becomes a lot more interesting. The Xbox Series S is a shockingly well-priced console at just $299, and though it isn’t very future-proof, it will play all next-gen games, which, after all, is what matters most. But for just $100 more, the PS5 Digital Edition will do just that, while also deliver far more impressive and far more future-proof hardware.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X at $499 apiece are both quite pricey, but they both have impressive hardware. All of this, however, is turned on its head by Xbox All-Access, which is almost an offer you can’t refuse with how reasonable and affordable it is. It’s worth noting that it’s only available in 12 countries, so that might not be applicable to you- but if you’re in one of those 12 countries, it’s a very tempting offer indeed.