It is no secret that PlayStation has been bringing the goods lately in terms of excellent games that you cannot play outside of the PS4 ecosystem. God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Detroit Become Human fell upon PlayStation owners this year. Horizon Zero Dawn, Gravity Rush 2, and Persona 5 came out last year. The onslaught of games that PlayStation has released is unreal, diminishing the relevance of Xbox’s best offerings (Forza, State of Decay, Sea of Thieves, Cuphead, Halo Wars 2, and We Happy Few) in the same time span. Is Xbox digging at the bottom of the barrel for games to put out on their system, or is PlayStation just in peak form?
Looking through each company’s studios and partnerships, both Xbox and PlayStation have about the same number of first party studios. Also, while Xbox has more second party studio relationships (part-ownership), Sony has MANY more third-party relationships (investment in an independently owned studio). So, while Xbox is no slouch in their studio resources, Sony is tight with so many companies that their first-party and third-party output outclasses Xbox’s first-party and second-party push.
The next big difference comes in the types of games each company produces. Xbox is very light in action/adventure properties (games like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Until Dawn), while Sony is light on real-time strategy games, shooters, and platformers (games like Age of Empires, Gears, Halo, and Cuphead). While this may seem like an equal trade, there are factors that do not make it so.
Microsoft’s policy of putting everything that is Xbox exclusive on the PC lowers the appeal of their console, especially when games like Cuphead and Age of Empires can be run well on low-end hardware. Additionally, the most recent Halo and Gears games, while good, have failed to light the gaming world on fire. On the other hand, Sony has been delivering GotY quality games at an unbelievable rate. It is very stiff competition, competition Xbox could not have anticipated.
Once Xbox releases Crackdown 3, ending the game’s development debacle, it is looking very optimistic for them. Ninja Theory is likely going to add a GotY quality action-adventure game to their repertoire; they have an entirely new studio (The Initiative) producing a game, Gears 5 is looking great, and Battletoads/Halo Infinite is in production. These games have a chance to hang with the likes of Ghost of Tsushima, Days Gone, The Last of Us Part II, Dreams, and Death Stranding as they release throughout this gen and into the next.
So, to make a long story short, Xbox is not lacking exclusives. They are lacking games that rival the critical acclaim of PlayStation’s offerings. Whether or not Sony’s “over-the-shoulder” games have inflated reviews or not, Xbox’s best franchises have not translated their momentum from the 360 era to the One era. They have a chance to make their two biggest franchises (Gears and Halo) capture the audience they once did and add new franchises that will catch the eye of Spider-Man and God of War players. Xbox is looking poised to shake Nintendo and Sony with their upcoming titles. Making more consumers contemplate buying an Xbox raises competition, incentivizing everyone to do good by their consumers, which is never a bad thing.
What do you think of Xbox’s outlook? Are you surprised how Xbox’s exclusives stack up against Sony’s? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Images published by Sony and Microsoft; developed by Naughty Dog, 343 Industries, Moon Studios, and Quantic Dream; retrieved from: