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New console launches can cause some anxiety, especially in the time before you get the next-gen hardware yourself. And I get it. You’ve committed to spending a lot of money on that preorder for something you’ve never used before. And I think that would amplify anyone’s reaction to negative news. But I’m here to tell you that you can stop panicking about the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Sony and Microsoft have got this (although Amazon and Walmart might not).
Xbox Series X is launching for $500 on November 10 alongside the more affordable Xbox Series S for $300. PlayStation 5 is launching for $500 on November 12 alongside the more affordable $400 Digital Edition. The wait is almost over, but you can start letting go of your concerns right now.
First, these are both great devices. Back in 2013, Microsoft and Sony weren’t sure about the future of consoles. That’s why they built underpowered systems with old laptop hard drives. It’s also why Sony didn’t start to regularly release huge first-party games until about 2015. Oh, and it’s why Microsoft talked more about TV than games during its launch.
That has changed. Console gaming has proven that it’s a resilient market with a passionate audience that spends a lot of money. And Sony and Microsoft aren’t meekly entering the next generation with cheap consoles — they’re bursting into the future with cutting-edge SSDs, CPUs, and GPUs.
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Reviews emphasize the quality engineering, speed, and power of PS5 and Xbox Series X. And I think most people understand that both companies are serious about games — which is why many of us have begun stressing about the smaller details.
It’s all puddle news, friends
I like talking about upcoming games and hardware. It’s fun to try to figure out what is going to happen. But I also try to remember something important: How I feel about something before it comes out almost never ends up mattering.
This is a phenomenon that we see play out on a large scale in video games. My favorite example is the anxiety around the downscaling of puddles in Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4. In early screenshots or trailers, the puddles were very reflective. Then in another trailer closer to launch, puddles looked slightly different.
Of course, once Sony and Insomniac released Spider-Man, no one talked about the puddles ever again. It was all nonsense — except that it was a reflection of people letting their anticipation turn into anxiety.
Now, I use the term “puddle news” whenever I see people getting worked up about some perceived issue relating to an unreleased product.
And something like that is happening with the consoles right now.
The Xbox Series X’s nonexistent heating problems is a bit of puddle news. But now people are getting insecure about the Xbox UI. Over the weekend, I posted a video of GamesBeat reviews editor Mike Minotti and myself talking about Microsoft’s and Sony’s dueling philosophies when it comes to updating the UX, and many Xbox fans rushed to defend Microsoft.
But in the video, we barely criticize Microsoft. And this discussion is something most commenters won’t even remember the second they start playing Xbox Series X.
The UI works, and that’s all that’s going to matter when you are actually using it.
Sony is listening
When it comes to the PS5, this week we learned that you cannot store next-gen games on an external USB drive. Sony previously confirmed that you must play PS5 games from the internal SSD storage. But now we know that if you want to make more room on that drive, you’ll have to delete some of your PS5 games and then redownload them later (or install them from a disc).
Today, however, Sony said it’s looking into addressing this problem. Here’s a note from the PS5 FAQ:
No, players cannot transfer PS5 games to a USB drive. PS5 games must be stored on the console’s internal ultra-high speed SSD for gameplay. Explorations for allowing players to store (but not play) PS5 games on a USB drive in a future update are underway.
Similarly, Insomniac revealed today that it is working on an update to enable players to transfer their PS4 Spider-Man save to the PS5 remaster. This came after Sony originally said that saves wouldn’t transfer.
We have heard you – in an upcoming update for #SpiderManPS4, we will add the ability to export your save to Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. This update will also add the three new suits from Remastered to the PS4 game. We expect to bring you this update around Thanksgiving. pic.twitter.com/EqoKnto3FV
— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) November 9, 2020
These are some basic features that we should expect Sony to be able to handle. But I think some fans are worried that maybe Sony’s leadership is feeling arrogant after the success of PS4. It seems clear that isn’t the case. The company is listening, and if fans want something that seems reasonable (like the ability to store PS5 games), Sony is going to get to work on that.
On the eve of the next-gen console launches, gaming fans should focus on that. These companies are both deeply invested into gaming now. PlayStation is one of Sony’s most important divisions. Microsoft just spent $7.5 billion to acquire Bethesda so it can add more content into Game Pass.
These companies aren’t spending all of this money just to screw up the small stuff. They want to get these things right, and I’m feeling confident that both of them will.
So let’s all take a deep breath and look forward to playing some games.
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