When I first started thinking about next-generation gaming a while back, there was always one thing I wanted more than anything else: fantastic new games. Software is where my time is spent on a new platform, so of course it was what I was most hopeful for. After the first couple of weeks with my Xbox Series X, I walked away with the impression that while the hardware was fantastic, the lack of games would cause it to fall behind the PS5 in my favour. Now, after six months with both consoles, I’m finding that I strongly prefer the Xbox Series X over the PS5.
When I first got my hands on the Xbox Series X, I was impressed by the console itself, but felt a lack of games held it back. In those early days I enjoyed the updates to existing games and high frame rates that came with them, along with the third party titles that dropped like Yakuza: Like a Dragon and DiRT 5, but the lack of new first party titles was a clear hole. With that said, a lack of software is potentially the easiest thing to fix. Especially when you now have more than 20 studios under your banner after splashing cash over the last few years. What aren’t always easy problems or gaps to fix are system features and business priorities, and these are why I now prefer my Xbox Series X over my PS5.
Potentially the biggest reason for this is Quick Resume, which I now consider to be the best system feature to come to gaming in a decade. When it was first announced, I was honestly pretty dismissive. Why would you bother talking up what is effectively an upgraded suspend-resume function? Then I actually started using it, and comparing it to suspend resume on my PS5, and my feelings completely changed. For games that support it (which is nearly every game I’ve played) I know that I can leave a game at any point, swap to something else and not need to restart the game. With reviews meaning I often need to swap between games and a daughter young enough that lots of game content is inappropriate, I’m frequently making use of it. I also know that I can completely disconnect my Series X from power and move it to my study to make use of my 144Hz monitor and my Quick Resume game states will come with me. It’s made me happier to jump between games and displays, because I know I’ll be right back in the action when I swap back. With improvements to quick resume shortening the load time and also giving you a view on what games are currently suspended, it’s just kept getting better since launch as well.
Another reason is Xbox’s focus on bringing legacy content forwards and improving it. I’ve been in just about every gaming ecosystem for the last couple of decades at this point and so I have plenty of games that have come with me. My study has plenty of physical PS1, PS2, PS3, Xbox and Xbox 360 games in it, but there’s only one modern system where I can still use those older games- the Xbox Series X. While it won’t run every Xbox or Xbox 360 game, it runs a selection of them and runs them better than their original systems did. Now, it even runs over 90 games at double the framerate of their original release. Compare this to a company and system that has abandoned their systems prior to the PS4 (unless you pay for a streaming service, which of course isn’t available in Australia). Legacy content is important to me, especially as we move towards a more digital future for gaming, and right now Xbox is the only hardware manufacturer that seems intent on bringing that legacy with it.
The final reason is the one everyone has already spoken about ad nauseam: Game Pass. My situation is probably a little different to many others, but thanks to taking advantage of some discounts I’ve got Game Pass Ultimate until January 2024. I know that between then and now I’ll have access to hundreds of games where I have absolutely no need to stick with them if I’m not having fun. I can simply download a game, give it a shot and if I don’t enjoy it, I can walk away. I know that when Starfield or Halo Infinite or Psychonauts 2 release I can simply play them via Game Pass, and then if I love them, I can wait for a physical or digital sale and pick them up then. I can still play them at launch without buying them individually, removing the risk of spending $124.95 on a game at launch like Returnal without knowing if I’ll truly enjoy it.
This preference has also likely been affected by the general lack of next generation exclusives at have been released so far. While the Xbox Series X has had almost nothing released so far, the PS5 has also only had two further first party publisher exclusives released since launch. This will obviously shift in the months ahead as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and more release, but Xbox’s lack of releases right now certainly hasn’t been as much of a hindrance as I’d thought it would be.
In the end, these reasons are all totally personal and obviously won’t reflect how everyone feels. With that said, despite my previous leanings towards the PS5, it’s clear that the Xbox Series X is becoming my go-to platform for all third party content. Will that continue to be the case over the whole generation? I don’t know, but at the present moment, I know my preferred platform.