The War Is Over
What kind of gamer are you? Are you somebody that believes whole-heartedly that the brand and product you support, whether it be Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, or even Nintendo’s Switch, is superior to the rest of the competition? Or are you somebody that sees through the nonsense that is a “console war,” fully realizing and respecting that regardless of what an individual chooses to spend their money on, in the year 2020, they’ll be purchasing a damn fine piece of hardware. I fall into the latter, and here’s why.
Given that Sony has finally revealed the specs of the upcoming Playstation 5, we should start with a direct comparison between the two forthcoming next-generation consoles.
The Devil is in The Detail
On paper, the Xbox Series X edges out the PS5 in a few categories – The PS5 will utilize an AMD Zen 2 3.5 GHz core, whereas the Series X will feature the same unit, only in a 3.8 GHz version. The two consoles will also feature a similar SSD, with Sony’s release having an 825GB capacity, and the Series X’s being one terabyte. The differences here are negligible, and while it may sound enticing to have nearly 200GB of extra space on the new Xbox, keep in mind that major games these days often clock in at, or over, 100GB. Regardless, both drives are going to offer a markedly increased console speed, the likes of which gamers have never seen before.
Where the real meat of fan conversations has lied, though, is in the differences of the GPUs. The two consoles will both feature AMD RDNA 2 GPUs; however, the Series X’s version will be 12 teraflops, as opposed to the PS5’s 10.28. Teraflops are direct mathematical measurements of a computer’s performance. Generally, more teraflops mean better graphics and faster speeds, but this isn’t always the case, and I genuinely think the technically less powerful PS5 will give the Series X a run for its money.
Again, while the Series X will be 10% better in terms of teraflops, I want to go back to the SSD, because it truly is the ace in the hole for the PS5. Take a look at the following quote from TheSixthAxis:
“The Xbox Series X 1TB SSD is equivalent to a high-end PCIe 3.0 drive, with a throughput of 2.4GB/s which is doubled to 4.8GB/s by compression. Meanwhile the PlayStation 5’s 825GB SSD fully embraces PCIe 4.0 speeds, has a throughput of 5.5GB/s, which could be improved to 8 or 9GB/s with compression. This is faster than anything available on the market today, with PCIe 4.0 SSDs currently topping out at 5GB/s.”
So we have one console with a higher teraflop count, and one console with an SSD promising twice the speeds of it’s competitor. Here’s the thing though – None of this matters. Forget all of the hubbubs about graphics and speeds and anything else that you feel is a deciding factor in which console should be recognized as superior. Try to understand that it’s not about (and I don’t think it ever was) which system is technically better – It’s about the journey.
Looking To The Future
MLB The Show, a franchise that has existed solely on Sony consoles for the last twenty-three years, has now officially been announced for both the Xbox and Switch. It’s a decision that non-PlayStation baseball fans reacted to over joyously, as they were finally going to be able to share the love for The Show that so many of us have. And while this may be just a baseball game, I think this decision is indicative of what we’re going to see in the future. Even including developers that are signed exclusively to a brand, how much financial sense will it continue to make to cut off two-thirds of your potential player base?
I’m not saying that every one of your favorite franchises may go the route of joint-custody. But then again, I’m not saying they won’t. I don’t have a difficult time imagining Nathan Drake on the Xbox. Or Marcus Fenix on a Nintendo console. Even the new exclusives that have been announced, like Godfall, are only as exclusive as their contracts make them. Having consoles with more parity than ever before will only lend themselves to being better equipped when the time comes to expand a franchise’s horizons. Just like MLB The Show.
It’s also important to keep in mind the relationship that Microsoft and Nintendo have been building over the past couple of years. Previous titles that were only ever imagined on an Xbox system have since come to the Switch, and continue to be as successful on an entirely separate platform than what they were intended for. ‘Cuphead’ and ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ both released on the Switch to universal acclaim and success, making it not at all difficult to see the potential for a more serious partnership down the line.
Then there’s crossplay. If there was one marker above all the rest, signaling the end of console wars, it’s crossplay. Call of Duty: Warzone is the latest major release to feature crossplay that works with the PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The system is snappy, intuitive, and aside from getting rocked by people using a keyboard and mouse instead of a controller, a hell of a lot of fun. It was a surreal experience for me the first time I loaded into a game that had me on the Playstation, a friend on his Xbox, and another friend on his PC. It hit me, like a crack to the head with a kendo stick, that the future isn’t in individual console success, and exclusives, but rather how well developers are going to bring every system and player together.
I remember being a young man and struggling with the choice between an Xbox or a PlayStation. It wasn’t always so clear, but thankfully it isn’t 2001, and while we still have the same number of variables as to what we can choose, the choice is easier than ever. These systems are the culmination of years of work, years of planning, and literally, thousands of minds pouring their hearts and souls into what they love. And that labor of love shines brighter than ever before with the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5. There is no console war. There is no wrong choice. Unless you choose Google Stadia, but that’s a whole other article for another time.
In a world that’s filled with so many uncertainties, one thing I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, is that come this holiday season, we’ll all be playing something amazing.