It goes without saying that Sony is in a strong position heading into this next console generation. They outsold the Xbox 2:1 last generation and some analysts predict they’ll do the same this time around with the PS5 versus the various Xbox Series models. Everyone expects Sony will continue to have rock solid first party releases this coming generation and yet…something seems to have shifted the past few weeks.
All Microsoft’s efforts to paint themselves as “pro-consumer” are starting to bear fruit, while Sony, staying with the industry standards or even moving in the opposite direction, is starting to feel a little “anti-consumer” to some potential players in contrast.
What am I talking about? A number of issues.
The thing that set this off most recently was Sony and Insomniac detailing the upcoming release of Spider-Man: Miles Morales which can be bundled with a PS5 remaster of the original Spider-Man. But unlike Xbox and its Smart Delivery upgrades, free upgrades of last gen games to next gen, that is not the case with Spider-Man, which does not have a free or even cheap upgrade path for PS5 as part of this bundle. Try and parse this out:
Xbox has seen how wacky this situation is, and has taken to memeing to dunk on Sony for all this confusion:
That’s…pretty funny, and has echoes of the famous “here’s how you share used games on PlayStation” video that Sony made in 2013 to embarrass Xbox and its confusing disc rights policies.
It isn’t just this though. These issues just keep adding up:
PlayStation fans who were “proud” that Sony was concentrating on actual generations by making games specifically for PS5 are now annoyed after Sony revealed that both Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West are also coming to PS4.
Sony stated that some of their first party games in the future would be priced as high as $70. This is in contrast to Microsoft offering all its first party games (and soon enough, all its Bethesda games) as part of a Game Pass subscription.
Sony shows little interest in adding its new first party games to its own version of Game Pass (technically PS Now at the moment), saying they’re too expensive to make to justify that. Meanwhile, Xbox Game Pass subscriptions have increased 50% over the summer, and Microsoft continues offering all its new games on it in addition to releasing its games on PC at the same time, something Sony has not done until years later for some titles, if at all.
There are few clear upgrade paths for recent Sony hits. Sony is giving away a bunch of high profile PS4 games as part of PS Plus when PS5 launches, and yet “next gen” versions of games like The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima have not been announced. And when they are announced, given what’s happened with Spider-Man, they’re not expected to be free or cheap upgrades, but probably entirely new paid releases in some form. Again, the opposite of Xbox’s Smart Delivery.
This is Sony’s current problem. It’s not that the PS5 isn’t attractive in terms of features and price, or that Sony’s games aren’t going to continue to be good. But at a certain point, all of Microsoft’s programs and features and subscriptions full of brand new games are going to add up and equal an overall “next gen experience” that Sony is currently not building, and seems to have no interest in building. Xbox is providing tremendous value for players to stay in its ecosystem, while it’s starting to feel like Sony is banking on the loyalty of its fans to put up with things like paying twice for remasters or $70 for brand new games. Maybe that gamble will work, but I can feel many players starting to get frustrated, given the clear alternatives Xbox is offering which Sony is not even attempting to match.
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