It’s now been a couple of weeks since the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as the Xbox Series S. And still silly hard to find. Even when stock arrives, it feels like you need to sacrifice blood to a hundred retail and internet gods before you even get a whiff of new gaming console stock.
And that’s after I’ve come to two conclusions: the first is that the console wars are basically over, and the second is the ‘next generation’ simply not yet arrived. That may sound strange given the discourse surrounding Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles over the past few months, but let me clarify.
It’s a good thing for Sony and Microsoft to harp on how powerful their respective new consoles are and how they’ll change your gaming experiences to a degree that your little mind can barely understand. But as impressive as the three consoles are, the fact that you can’t get them gives away much of the excitement and messages behind them.
Now a shortage of stock of new gaming consoles, or indeed other compelling technology, is not surprising in the early days of such devices. But the shortage of PS5 and Xbox Series X is beyond the pale.
While the idea of the so-called console wars has been generally ridiculous – no matter which console sells best, both are winning – it is quite controversial given this scarcity .
It’s no longer a case of which new console you’re buying, but rather a case of buying what you can get hold of, if you’re not willing to wait for demand to slow down. I think you should wait for 2021 when there are more games and developers they are fiat with the new console hardware. But I get that the desire for new technology is a powerful compulsion.
And with this huge demand, even for the smaller-powered S-Series, it means Sony and Microsoft have won the console war. All three machines are more or less a success.
This may change as demand eases and one company may find it difficult to move console units continuously. But that’s not likely to happen for a while; think 2022 or 2023.
When it comes to choosing one console over another, they both offer different things. The PS5 has the interesting DualSense controller and a longer list of upcoming exclusive games, while the Xbox Series X has backwards compatibility and Xbox Game Pass that will be boosted by the growing numbers of developers under the Xbox banner Game Studios. Unlike the last console generation, this one makes a compelling argument to get both machines, at least when they become easier to access.
So simply, it’s game over for the console war, before it even starts. Thanks for coming to my TED talk, read on for part two.
Talk about this generation
I’ve been moving slowly from using the term “next generation consoles” to “this generation.” But when I stop and think about it, I feel like the PS5 and Xbox Series X are still next-generation consoles.
I don’t know anyone personally outside of gaming and technology media reviewers who have access to either of the new consoles. Until more people have the PS5 and Xbox Series X, or Series S, then the new generation of gaming can’t really get started.
And then we have the games. Although the Xbox Series X enhances games that will run on the Xbox One, it doesn’t have any games that make you stand back and pretend to “**** look at those graphics.” Credo Valhalla Assassin is looks great but it’s not a huge step forward from Red Dead Redemption 2 to my eyes.And Demon’s Souls is certainly impressive – just ask my colleague Marshall Honorof – but it’s a decade long remake age.
Without any impressive new intellectual properties or games that the new hardware must have to run, I feel we are in a difficult position where we have one foot in the old generation and another in the new. This is nothing new when it comes to gaming consoles, but there are usually some standout selections that are the early poster children of the future of console gaming.
And PC gaming fans may be sniggering with their powerful hardware that arguably offers next-gen grunt for a year or two. But when it comes to getting the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, it is easier to find an honest man in Parliament than stock one of the graphics cards. The same goes for other graphics cards in their respective families, most recently the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti which sold out in mere seconds.
As such, we’re all stuck in a kind of limbo, where big companies touch on new gaming hardware but feel so out of reach that you might as well reach out trying to pull a star from the Orion Belt.
I hope this changes as the holidays approach and 2021 starts to peek around the corner. But until that happens, I am not prepared to accept that we are in the next generation of gaming.