After months of waiting, we finally know when the Xbox Series X, Series S and PlayStation 5 will launch, and some games that will be available on day one.
But the new hardware requires some investment: the Xbox Series X / S will cost $499 and $299, while the PS5 and its discless Digital Edition will cost $499 and $399. And if you want to take the plunge, you’ll also need to be able to actually find a console, which hasn’t been easy with PS5 preorders so far. (Fingers crossed that the Xbox Series X / S preorders go more smoothly.)
Are Microsoft and Sony offering enough to convince you to buy into the next generation at launch? Our newsroom is torn, so we wanted to share our thoughts in case it helps you make a decision — even if that decision is, “I’m going to wait a while.”
Taylor Lyles: I plan to buy both a PS5 and Xbox Series X at launch in addition to upgrading my PC to next-gen hardware.
At first, I was going to hold off on buying a PS5 until Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart received a firm release date. (Right now, it’s scheduled for the PS5’s “launch window.”) But when I saw Demon’s Souls remake would be a launch title, I decided to bite the bullet.
Initially, I wanted to buy a Series X at launch for Halo Infinite, but after it was delayed, there was nothing that was incentivizing me to buy an Xbox Series X until 2021. Then, Microsoft acquired a bunch of ZeniMax properties, including one of my favorite gaming franchises, Fallout, reigniting my interest to purchase Microsoft’s next-gen system on launch day.
Julia Alexander: I would first like to state that while I respect my colleagues purchasing the big Xbox console, I am more interested in seeing their living room setups. Where are they placing the console? Does it fit inside their TV stand? Is it going to lay forever on the floor because there simply is nowhere else for it to exist? It’s so big! It is, quite frankly, too big. I’m looking at an Xbox One right now and it’s a perfect size. But I digress.
I’m probably going to buy a PlayStation 5. Wait. Stop. Don’t “well, actually” me just yet in the comments. I’m aware that technically the PS5 is bigger than the Xbox Series X, but here’s the thing: it doesn’t seem as imposing, as looming, as threatening to me as the Series X.
“I’m basically buying what I think looks cooler.”
Look, this isn’t me saying “sOnY iS bEtTeR” so please don’t email me things about hating on Xbox. I’ve used PlayStation consoles all my life, and at this point I’m mainly using consoles as general entertainment systems. So if I have to choose (although I’d like to be able to live freely and just throw both on my Visa), I’m basically buying what I think looks cooler. I’m going with the Tron-looking console. Consoles are living room set pieces. The PS5 looks like it’ll really tie the room together. I’ll take the futuristic, Wall-E-inspired console over the very big, boring brick.
Sean Hollister: I’ve never been a day-one console buyer, always waiting for the reviews and early glitches to get ironed out — and with the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S, I feel like there’s less reason to buy at launch than ever. I badly want to play Miles Morales and Horizon: Forbidden West, but Sony says I’ll be able to do that on my existing PS4 Pro! Plus, I wrote a whole editorial on how I probably won’t need an Xbox at all — every big game is also coming to PCs, and many of them to the cloud.
Plus, the biggest games for both consoles probably won’t be out anytime soon. I love me some Demon’s Souls and the first footage of Bluepoint’s remaster made me giddy, but will we even see the delayed Halo: Infinite or that new Horizon before holiday 2021? Deathloop got delayed till 2021 as well. And heck, if I wait long enough, I can probably play the “PS5 exclusive” Demon’s Souls and Final Fantasy XVI on PC as well.
But... I did manage to get a PS5 pre-order. Feels like a shame to waste it? I’ve got plenty of good stuff on PS4 that’ll be backwards compatible, and we’re all still stuck at home right now. I guess I can sell it at a loss on Craigslist or something, if it’s not getting enough use. That’s how I originally bought my PS3 and PS4, after all.
Cameron Faulkner: I’m almost fully certain that there’s nothing the Xbox Series S will be able to do that my current PC can’t do better — yet I still crave that $299 console. I thought that as consoles became more like PCs on the inside, getting equipped with fast processors and — finally, FINALLY — faster PCIe-based storage, I would be driven further away from them, since I’m all set on the PC front.
“I’m as drawn as ever to the idea of being among the first to get the Series S.”
Yet, I’m as drawn as ever to the idea of being among the first to get the Series S. I’m a big fan of Game Pass, but beyond that, I think Microsoft’s strategy of setting expectations with the specs of the Series S (not over-hyping like it did with the One X), and allowing me to use all of my controllers from the Xbox One generation, are both sitting well with me.
Kaitlin Hatton: My last foray into the console world was with the PlayStation 2. However, I eventually switched over to PC games, as they were easier to maintain through four years of college and several long-distance moves. Then the pandemic hit, and as an adult with a little pocket change and a lot of spare time, console gaming was calling me.
This is all to say that my return to the console world is going to come with the digital version of the PlayStation 5. I have no disc games so my decision between the two versions was pretty easy. I likely won’t buy it the day it launches, but I’m hoping to have one before the new year.
Tom Warren: I’ve preordered a PS5, and I’ll be preordering an Xbox Series S for sure. I’m debating getting all three because I’m addicted to games, but I already have a powerful gaming PC that will play all the Xbox exclusives. The Xbox Series S just looks like a great deal for something I can attach to my 1440p monitor and quickly access Xbox games.
Jay Peters: I have a pre-order for the PS5 Digital Edition, and I’m planning to pre-order the Xbox Series S. But if I’m being totally honest, I might cancel the PS5 pre-order and stick with the Xbox Series S for the beginning of this console generation.
I just got a PS4 in May and I still have a lot of its back catalog to get through. (I’m currently 70 hours into Persona 5 Royal, if you were wondering.) The PS5 game I was looking forward to most, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will also be available on PS4, so there’s nothing brand-new on PS5 that’s calling me on day one. And that $69.99 price tag for some PS5 games is a lot.
“We’ll see if I hold onto that PS5 pre-order.”
A $299 Xbox Series S paired with a $9.99 per month Xbox Game Pass subscription, on the other hand, will let me dive into Xbox’s back catalog (I haven’t owned an Xbox since the Xbox 360) and play every future next-generation first-party launch title. For the same $399 I’m paying for the PS5, I can get an Xbox Series S and 10 months of games on Game Pass.
We’ll see if I hold onto that PS5 pre-order.
Jon Porter: I didn’t buy a PS4 until pretty late into the current generation of consoles, and if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t know when I’ll get around to upgrading. I recently treated my gaming PC to its first new CPU in five years (I leapt from an Intel i7-4790k to a Ryzen 5 3600), and together with its Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card I can get a reasonable experience out of most modern games.
That might change if more of them start integrating performance intensive graphics features like ray-tracing to maintain parity with the next-gen consoles, but even then it’ll be easier to turn down a couple of settings on PC than to shell out hundreds of dollars on new equipment.
“The decision on when to upgrade will probably come down to one or two exclusive games.”
So for me, the decision on when to upgrade will probably come down to one or two exclusive games that everyone’s talking about. It’s not going to be Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Horizon: Forbidden West, since I’ll be able to play both on PS4, and it’s not going to be any of Microsoft’s first-party games like Halo Infinite, since I’ll be able to play those on PC.
If I had to guess, I’d say that I’ll probably end up upgrading for a big third-party release like Grand Theft Auto 6, or the second part of the Final Fantasy VII remake (if/when either get announced). Given their publishers’ tendencies to release PC ports of their games a year or more after their original console release, I think either could push me to buy a new machine to play them on day one.
Chaim Gartenberg: I will probably get a PS5 at some point, because I would like to play God of War, Horizon Forbidden West, and the other presumably good PS5 exclusives that Sony will have down the line (and so that my coworkers will stop making fun of me for not buying a PS4 last console generation.)
But I’m not buying a PS5 at launch because there’s no real point for me right now. Same with the Xbox Series X / S — it doesn’t play anything that my first-gen Xbox One doesn’t, although I might upgrade at some point if there’s a decent trade-in offer, just to futureproof. Maybe that will change once the next-gen games start to come out, but right now neither Microsoft or Sony has me champing at the bit to rush out for a new console just yet.
“I’d let Elon Musk put a chip in my brain before I’d pick up joysticks again.”
TC Sottek: The last console I bought was an Xbox One X. I played it for a total of about 3 hours and then gave the console to my brother. Before that, I had a PlayStation 4 that I used to play through about a third of The Witcher 3 before giving up. When the world invents a controller that doesn’t cause my hands to ache painfully after 30 minutes of use I’ll consider going back to consoles. I’d let Elon Musk put a chip in my brain before I’d pick up joysticks again.