After reviewing both the Sony PS5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X I've been impressed with both consoles, but after initially calling out that the PlayStation 5 had won the next-gen launch battle (largely due to actually having some new exclusive games to play on it), I've noticed a few areas where I feel it is now losing ground to Xbox, or will do if they aren't addressed quickly.
These are the four things Sony PS5 needs to fix to prevent Xbox Series X gaining an upper hand:
1. Where's the expandable storage?
Sony has promised (opens in new tab) that it is going to unlock expandable storage soon, but right now no fixed date has been given and PS5 gamers are still left juggling games in terms of install thanks to only 667GB of usable storage being available to them.
Compare this to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, which since launch has been able to be outfitted with large expandable storage drives like the Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S, and there's only one winner. These simple plug and play drives mean that the Xbox consoles can be immediately granted 920GB extra storage space – which is perfect for installing loads of games.
What's most annoying about the PS5's lack of working SSD expansion port right now is that Sony spent so much time pre-launch building up the awesome speeds of the SSD drives it uses, and which can be installed in the SSD expansion port on the console. So the fact that gamers can't make use of this functionality is frustrating to say the least.
Modern AAA games are often upwards of 50-60GB now, and some can stretch up toward the 80-100GB mark, so 667GB soon gets filled. That SSD expansion card slot needs unlocking, and fast.
2. Where's the next-gen exclusives?
Sony's got some potentially great next-gen exclusives in the works, such as God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West and Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, but right now very few of these have fixed release dates and, Returnal aside, are still months if not years away from release.
Xbox is no better, either, but crucially Xbox gamers have just got a huge boost in terms of momentum and platform loyalty by the fact that Microsoft has bought Bethesda and locked its future games as exclusives to "platforms where Game pass exists" (so not PS5 then).
These are juggernaut gaming series like Doom, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, and Xbox gamers are stoked that they get access the next-gen titles in them, such as the teased The Elders Scrolls 6 (opens in new tab).
As such, Sony needs to remind gamers that it too has great exclusives coming down the pipe, as we're now six months from launch and the momentum created by Spider-Man Miles Morales has now well and truly run out. The last thing Sony needs is gamers looking at Xbox and being converted due to more visible future exclusives.
3. Where's the customisable face plates?
This may sound a minor thing but, actually, I think it is really important. Gamers have customised their consoles for decades as it helps makes the system more their own. This is only natural and, from a business point of view, it is something that the console makers should like as it helps instil brand loyalty.
You only have to look at the rise and popularity of special edition consoles that sport different visual designs to see how many gamers want a more personalised piece of hardware. It makes it more their console, and something they can be proud to own.
As such, the fact that the PS5 has a really easy way to take off its side panels but, aside from some third-party offerings, has no custom panels to replace them with is really frustrating and, at least from my perspective, a big missed opportunity so far.
Xbox is, without doubt, going to release special edition versions of console (as to replace the casing you have to do a full console teardown (opens in new tab), which is something the vast majority of gamers can't or won't want to do), so Sony needs to get this feature unlocked fast and then communicate that to gamers.
4. Where's the PS Now mobile app?
We know that Sony is working on a cloud gaming strategy as PlayStation boss Jim Ryan confirmed to Japanese news site Nikkei (opens in new tab) that the "cloud gaming experience we're offering will be unique and only on PlayStation". However, right now we know very little about this cloud gaming platform.
In contrast, Xbox gamers are already enjoying cloud gaming on mobile devices, with games streamable directly to Android mobile phones and tablets thanks to Microsoft's Project xCloud and Xbox's Cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (opens in new tab).
And, with Xbox already also offering gamers the best-in-class Netflix-for-games service in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft really seems to have game streaming on-lock right now. It's a great reason for gamers to invest in the Xbox ecosystem – they know that Microsoft has their backs in terms of remote cloud gaming.
Over on PS5, though, that is not the case and, what makes that even more disappointing is that Sony is actually really well positioned in order to deliver remote device cloud game streaming. Right now, though, Xbox mobile device cloud gaming is going from strength to strength, and Sony needs to get in gear fast before it gets left behind.
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