Last month, Microsoft hosted the first of three Xbox 20/20 events where it showed off a series of third-party titles that will be available on the Xbox Series X. The video presentation was a victim of poor messaging, disappointing fans who expected gameplay rather than trailers. Microsoft will certainly try course correct with its upcoming presentations, but the rough start opened the door for Sony to come out swinging with its PlayStation 5 reveal on Thursday, June 11.
Sony’s showcase was everything PlayStation fans hoped for and more, showing off a string of impressive titles coming to the console. The Beat decided to analyze how the event tackled three of the biggest concerns of gamers in the market for new consoles. Read how Sony fared with its 1st-party titles, third-party offerings, and the state of its launch lineup.
1st party titles
PlayStation’s number one advantage over Xbox is Sony’s roster of critically acclaimed game developers. Fans know that when they buy a PlayStation, they’re gaining access to many of the best AAA games in the world. The PlayStation 5 reveal debuted a wave of new first-party titles. Several were open secrets. Everyone following the games industry knew a sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn and Bluepoint Game’s remake of Demon Souls were on the way. But advanced knowledge didn’t prevent the footage from revving up excitement for their release.
The biggest surprise of the event was Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a follow-up to Sony’s fastest-selling exclusive of all time. After the event, Sony clarified that the game is an expansion of the original game rather than a brand new experience. Even so, its presence at the PlayStation 5 reveal was key to the event’s success.
Sony’s big-budget action-adventure games received the most attention from viewers, but the publisher showed off other genres, too. The mascot for Little Big Planet stars in his first-ever 3D platformer in Sackboy: A Big Adventure. The presentation also revealed Astro’s Playroom, which will be packed in with the console. It’s a sequel to one of Sony’s most critically acclaimed PSVR titles, the trailer made no mention of VR compatibility. If it’s not compatible, we can safely count out the appearance of a new VR headset designed for the PS5.
The developer of Spider-Man, Insomniac Games, made a second appearance at the PlayStation 5 reveal with the debut of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. The title looks specifically designed to take advantage of the new hardware. The time rifts that take you to completely different environments would take several seconds to load on a PlayStation 4 but appears to be instantaneous with the next-gen console’s Solid State Drive. Getting pulled into time rifts also presents an excellent opportunity to incorporate the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback. Fans wouldn’t expect a mascot platformer to be a better showcase than an open-world game with a hyper-detailed animation style, but I think fans will be surprised how well Ratchet and Clank exhibits the true potential of the PlayStation 5.
3rd party support
Even though the PlayStation 5 reveal was packed with exclusive titles, Sony didn’t shy away from highlighting games from other publishers. The presentation began with the promise that an “expanded and enhanced” version of Grand Theft Auto V will be out early 2021, and it will be free to PS5 owners for its first three months of release. In the meantime, owners of the game on PlayStation 4 will get GTA$1,000,000 every month.
Grand Theft Auto V is the most profitable piece of media ever. For its developer Rockstar Games to give away the port along with a significant amount of in-game currency to PlayStation owners, Sony must have shelled out a ridiculous sum of money. The deal will pay off, however, if it makes a portion of the game’s massive playerbase loyal to PlayStation.
Sony shared trailers for several other major titles, including an expanded look at Arkane Studio’s Deathloop and the world premiere of Resident Evil VIII. Console makers have to pay a lot of money to reveal games of their size during their showcases. Sony could have easily rested on its laurels, letting its impressive slate of 1st party games speak for itself. Instead, the company aggressively sought out deals that gave gamers more reason to believe the PlayStation 5 is the best option for next-gen games.
Ahead of the PlayStation 5 reveal, analysts were concerned whether or not the console would give players a good reason to buy it on Day 1. Industry insiders (correctly) predicted that Horizon: Forbidden West wouldn’t be ready to debut in 2020 and worried the PlayStation 5’s launch window would be barren.
Since the Xbox Series X is launching alongside a new entry in the Halo franchise, Sony needed something big to measure up. They found it in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Insomniac couldn’t create an entirely new game in just two years, but it’s a big boon for marketing to have a Spider-Man title of any kind at launch. Sony will receive a lot of positive attention for launching the PlayStation 5 with a follow-up (if not a full-out sequel) to its top-selling game of the last generation.
We still don’t know the console’s precise release date, the price, or how those compare to the launch date and cost of the Xbox Series X. Sony and Microsoft are playing a high-stakes game of chicken because they both want the last word. Eventually, though, we’ll get answers to those questions. Judging by every other category important to gamers, Sony put itself squarely in the driver’s seat with the PlayStation 5 reveal. Time will tell if Microsoft’s upcoming news about the Xbox Series X manages to measure up