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Are the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S Failures?

Greg Devine


Young man playing Video Games

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The next generation of games consoles has been out for quite a while now. Sony released their PS5 in November 2020, as Microsoft released the Xbox Series X; however, nobody could get their hands on either one at that time. We were still gripped by the pandemic then, which caused supply chain issues. The global chip shortage that we’re still experiencing meant getting your hands on one of these new consoles was quite the challenge. Resellers took advantage of the crazily high demand and offered the consoles at ridiculous prices. Despite this debacle, both Sony and Microsoft claimed these new consoles were their best-sellers to date, though I’m not convinced either of them have been truly successful.

In 2013, Sony and Microsoft released what was then ‘the next generations of consoles’. The PS4 and the Xbox One were both incredibly hyped up. I remember saving up for the Xbox One and being so excited close to its launch. The step up in graphics and gameplay seemed massive, so I’m sure you can understand my giddiness, especially as I was only twelve years old. The Xbox One came preloaded with FIFA 14. I already had FIFA 14, but it was compatible with Sony’s previous console, the Xbox 360. This meant I could make a direct comparison between the two generations of consoles using the same game. Perhaps predictably, the Xbox One version was leaps and bounds better than that of the Xbox 360. Gameplay-wise, they were very similar, but graphically, the difference was huge.

You might be wondering why I’ve included this decade-old story. It’s because I’ve finally seen what the next generation of consoles can do, and weirdly, they’re not that impressive. These days, I don’t use a console for gaming, I use a PC, but this doesn’t mean that the release of the new console won’t impact me. Most games created for the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S are also available to play on a PC, but it’s only been during the past year that these ports to PC have been part of the new generation, rather than the PS4 and Xbox One. FIFA 23, for example, is this year’s next generation port to PC game, so I’ve finally been able to see the difference—and it’s negligible. Graphically, its better, but it doesn’t seem to have the same impact I experienced as a twelve-year-old. Now I’ve played both versions of FIFA 23, and given the little difference between them, it’s certainly not enough to justify buying a new console, that’s for certain.

These new consoles are best enjoyed at 4K resolution. Maybe if I’d experienced 4K gaming, I’d have a different opinion, but monitors at that resolution don’t come cheap. Most people with the new PlayStations and Xboxes will still be playing in HD, simply because 4K isn’t affordable. Previous generations of consoles have already made great use of graphics in full HD, which may be why the new generation doesn’t look too different.

Ray tracing is a new technology to consoles. It’s supposed to improve lighting in games by more accurately portraying shadows and reflections. When this element is switched on it looks impressive, but few games have made use of this feature. The computing power needed for ray tracing is very high and, in truth, these consoles aren’t powerful enough for it to be implemented properly. Even on my PC, with its higher specifications and extra power, I struggle to run ray tracing—so getting it to work on a console was always going to be a big challenge. I think ray tracing might have to wait until the next generation of consoles, which is another blot on the PS5 and Xbox X/S landscape.

Don’t get me wrong, these latest consoles aren’t bad pieces of kit—they’re just not as impressive as they used to be. None of my friends have bothered to buy one, despite them all being gamers. Why would they? They’d be spending many hundreds of pounds to only get what their current Xbox One or PS5 delivers, and the same games. 

Maybe I just expect greater value for money as I’m getting older, but even though I’m a huge fan of tech, I can’t help but feel disappointed by the ‘bestsellers’ from these corporate giants.

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