PS5 and Xbox Series X Should Be Delayed to 2021
Let's be honest; now isn't the time to buy next-gen consoles or for the gaming tech giants to launch. The PS5 and Xbox Series X should wait.
With the next-generation of consoles, now feels like a good time to look back and reflect. Let’s go back to the beginning of the current-gen: the introduction of the Xbox One and the PS4. These two consoles, although iterations of their predecessors, revolutionized games. PlayStation shifted towards narrative-driven, cinematic experiences that gripped a player with gameplay and storytelling that you hardly could find anywhere else. The Xbox One made itself a home for accessible gaming even up to the end of its lifespan with Xbox Game Pass. For a long seven years, these consoles have been the homes of so many games and players that the next-generation — the PS5 and Xbox Series X — really does seem like it has some big shoes to fill.
But it doesn’t feel like that’s going to happen.
Let’s rewind a bit, just to the start of this year. In January, everything was very, very different. Optimism was in the air – it was going to be a year of change. Then February. Then…March. Then a pandemic, ensuing lockdown, economic devastation, the list goes on. Now, what does 2020 have to show for itself? A couple of announced consoles, and not much else. To get to the point, things are f***ed. So f***ed in fact, that the PS5 and Xbox Series X shouldn’t even bother releasing this year. To hell with it: I say push them both back to 2021.
That tangent about the world does relate to the argument – oh, and there is an argument. There’s no joke here: I fully believe that both of these video game boxes should be pushed back an entire year. Not only are the next-generation consoles not ready to launch, but the world simply isn’t ready for them either.
The last part of that statement may sound a bit more ominous than it should, but I’ll keep it in there because it’s largely true. Right now isn’t a great time for the business world, that’s a simple fact. The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting impacts on the global economy have shaken every industry, some more than others. Lucky for the folks like us that play a lot of video games, this industry hasn’t been as hard hit, but there’s still been an impact.
First came the delays and cancellations of huge industry events across the globe. From Gamescom to E3, massive expos where fans of video games and members of the industry get together to witness new creations and celebrate the hobby we all share either aren’t happening or aren’t the same. Then came the loss of game tournaments (a personal subject as a fan of Super Smash Bros. Melee), which Business Insider found would result in a loss in revenue for the esports industry through 2020.
All the while, more stories of game developers and publishers shutting down their offices in favor of employees working at home were becoming more commonplace. Naturally, this affected productivity, leading to delays in the games that were supposed to make 2020 a big one. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, Dying Light 2, and of course Halo Infinite all cited the ongoing pandemic as at least a partial cause for delay.
But past all that–past the impacts of COVID-19 on the gaming industry and the business world–are the working-class folks that are suffering. The pandemic has destroyed economies, plain and simple. In America, unemployment in April was the highest it’s been in the past 25 years, and in the last week of March, over six million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. Currently, the nation is facing down a second crisis in housing, as people without jobs and extended unemployment insurance stare down the barrel of eviction. Across the pond, the BBC reported that for the first time in 11 years, Britain is facing an economic recession.
The people affected economically by the pandemic are going broke. It’s time for the folks selling not just consoles but all expensive consumer electronics to ask themselves this – is now the right time? I’m going to sound a little inhuman, since that’s what business requires, and say that the human suffering happening across the world right now won’t help drive sales. Simply put, you can’t sell an Xbox Series X to someone who may not have a home in two months, let alone at the end of the year.
Like I said before though: the economic issues plaguing the world right now aren’t the only reason why the next-generation consoles should be pushed back. Both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 don’t feel like they’re offering enough just yet to justify their (likely) high prices.
Let’s look back at the past for a second. Back in November 2013, the Xbox One launched on November 22. On day one, players could pick up a variety of titles in longstanding franchises, like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, and Call of Duty: Ghosts; that’s not to mention exclusives for the console like Dead Rising 3 and Killer Instinct. Across the aisle, the PS4 launched with those same three franchises, as well as DC Universe Online, Killzone Shadow Fall, and of course Knack. These consoles didn’t just launch with the usual AAA titles, they even had their own exclusives. The list went on from there for both of them, with a little something for anyone.
I’m not going to say that the launches of either of these consoles were perfect – they certainly weren’t. The Xbox One started by pushing the Kinect, which I don’t have to talk about much further than that. Meanwhile, the PS4 received its share of flak just for having Knack on it. But what both shared was a large, varied library of launch titles, and the craziest part was that a large amount of them were brand new.
Compared to the launch lineup of this year’s consoles, things aren’t looking the same way. The Series X recently lost its biggest launch title— which might have also been the biggest between the two consoles–Halo Infinite. Besides that, the console’s list of new exclusive games is pretty short. Granted, the Series X is arriving with Xbox Game Pass to boot, which promises hundreds of games for a low monthly fee. But not many of those titles are new, and in fact, a lot of what both Game Pass and the Series X are advertising in terms of games have been out already for quite a while. It’s looking more and more like the main selling point for the Xbox Series X in 2020 is to play the games you already have at a higher resolution and framerate.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 isn’t faring much better. The console’s shortlist of launch titles includes Astro’s Playroom (a tech demo for the DualSense controller), Rainbow Six Siege, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Once again though, not everything is negative. The PS5 is at least launching with one exclusive high-profile title in the form of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, though it’s more of an enhanced expansion than a true Spider-Man sequel. Past that, there aren’t many games to generate the kind of hype needed to sell a console.
That’s what these consoles are really missing: a good reason to buy them. A majority of the games coming to both consoles are already available on current-gen machines, so why bother upgrading? At launch, the Series X and PS5 won’t have a library like they will six months down the line, so why not wait?
A lot of things have gone perfectly wrong to make me feel this way about the launch of the next-generation of consoles. Forces both inside and outside of the games industry have made it so launching this November or December seems like the wrong move for Microsoft and Sony. New platforms with a smidge of new content available on them are poised to be sold to an ever-growing group of people struggling to get by. So instead, I have to go with the optimist inside me: the one that says that all the terrible things going on are relegated to this one calendar year. Hopefully 2021 will be vastly different, making next year the perfect time to launch these consoles; line them up with the release of more titles with substance, and with people feeling more comfortable spending their money.
But, nothing is likely to change. The Xbox Series X announced it was launching in November, the PS5 will likely announce a date in the same month or the one after. When they do launch, we won’t know whether or not it was a good choice, at least not until sales numbers are made available. For the time being, we all just have to wait and see what the next couple of months have in store for us, and whether or not we are ready for next-gen, or if it’s ready for us.