The incoming console war between the Xbox Series X and PS5 is reaching an incendiary level as we enter the peak of summer, with gamers waiting for the price of the new consoles to be unveiled, as well as news on pre-orders, so that they can get themselves prepped for the holiday 2020 launch window.
We've heard that both Sony and Microsoft will be announcing the official prices for their upcoming hardware this month, but there's a twist as sources claim that Microsoft has an ace up its sleeve - a couple of them - that will see it counter Sony's strategy for winning the console war.
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Microsoft has been very vocal about the fact that gamers won't even have to buy an Xbox Series X to enjoy the console's new titles, and that games can even be enjoyed on mobile devices starting next month as part of Xbox Game Pass (but not on iOS for now).
Meanwhile, Sony has been doing everything it an to ensure early adoption of the PS5, with the latest leak suggesting that the company has forked out a lot of money to secure platform and timed exclusive deals with third-party publishers for both games and additional content.
In light of that revelation, it appears that Microsoft could be left with the fuzzy end of the lollipop, but a new piece of the puzzle has just been exposed that could turn the tables on Sony, and see Microsoft come out on top - namely a cheaper console, and a huge power advantage.
Industry insider Dusk Golem (opens in new tab) - known for their Capcom-related rumours - took to ResetEra (opens in new tab) to spill the beans on Microsoft's upcoming gambit.
"I'm not going to say too much, but from some murmurings I've been hearing, I'll just say I suspect this topic is going to age 'interestingly' when a few more details on both platforms are revealed.
"I mean this in a few more ways, but to give the broadest idea, I'll just say the Xbox X is by far more powerful than the PS5 if we're just talking raw power, multi-platform games will run better on Xbox X is something people are going to have to prepare themselves for.
"Add to this Microsoft are ready to lowball Sony when it comes to price. They can more easily make a sacrifice and get back profits from Game Pass than console sales than Sony can from that comparatively."
Dusk Golem added (opens in new tab) that the PS5 is "easier to develop for overall" with Sony's first-party studios able to get the most out of the console, but when it comes to multi-platform games, the Xbox Series X will have the advantage, and it'll be a significant one. In a post further into the thread, they said (opens in new tab):
"The basic gist of what I've heard is the PS5 is really good to work on for games exclusive to it, but in practice the specs kinda' get weird for multi-platform games. If multi-plat the usage of PS5's SSD systems does help a bit, but not to the fullest, and I've heard some dev friends talk a bit about the struggle PS5 has for 1080p games running 60fps still, while Xbox X doesn't have the same problem and can push above that even in most cases.
"Of course, this is a small selection of people I've talked to, there's more to it, but I hear something that's going to make this generation a bit interesting is the PS5 & Xbox X's focus in other areas are going to make multi-platform games 'interesting' this generation, to the point we may actually see less of them and far more games coming to one platform or the other (plus PC), as it's actually kinda' hard to make a game optimal for both platforms due to where they're a bit differently focused."
It turns out that the title in question that's causing the PS5 problems is Resident Evil Village (opens in new tab):
" I'm talking about Resident Evil Village. The game's terrible performance at the PS5 reveal event with the terrible frame rate present in the trailer was kinda' the current status of the game on PS5 as of a few months ago.
"The thing is, apparently the game runs perfectly on Xbox X, they've been having some troubles getting the frame rate stable on PS5 (which as Sony had a rule to record the PS5 event gameplay on PS5, lead to the weird frame showing in that trailer). But it's running in the RE Engine, and they'll be making more optimizations to take advantage of the game there."
On the price front, Dusk Golem said (opens in new tab) that neither Sony nor Microsoft has nailed down a price for their hardware yet, but speculated that the PS5 is going to be more expensive, while Microsoft will happily undercut its rival to get people into its ecosystem, which is presumably where the cheaper Xbox Series S and Xbox Game Pass will help.
It's quite the bombshell, if this is true, as we're just months out from launch and the bar for next-gen is set pretty high. Players spending £500 on a new console are going to want to see it shine, not lag behind the competition, so let's hope Sony sorts out any niggles before November.