I’ve played video games for most of my life. The first “console” I remember was a handheld device from LeapFrog called the Leapster, which was essentially a silver brick with a few buttons and a stylus tied to it. Most of the games were educational, and my favorite game was Batman: Multiply, Divide and Conquer.
Flash-forward to middle school, and I’m growing bored of Mario Kart Wii. So, my sister and I save up to buy an Xbox 360. I don’t know why we initially chose that console, but I fell in love with the Xbox and dove deep into all sorts of mainly single-player experiences, since I couldn’t afford to pay for Xbox’s multiplayer subscription. In high school, I bought the Xbox One despite debates with all my friends who had PlayStations.
The Xbox One, and the 360 before it, have dutifully served me over the years, and I have no complaints. They’ve brought me nothing but joy — and some competitive frustration — through the many games I’ve played to this day.
In short, I have a lengthy history with Xbox. But now, I must admit, I’m having second thoughts about my brand choice. The new generation of consoles, the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, released almost a year ago in November 2020. Soon, I’ll have to ask myself: If I buy into the expensive new generation, will I stick with Xbox?
First, I’ll consider the price. Both consoles have a retail price of $500, which is a large expense, but since I only buy a console once every so many years, it’s conceivable. I’ll then weigh the capabilities of each machine. The consoles seem to be comparable in hardware, though the Xbox Series X has a little more storage, and the PlayStation 5 controllers offer a few more features. With price and performance nearly equal, my decision will truly come down to preference on exclusive games.
This is where I struggle as an Xbox user. The biggest draw to the PlayStation is its acclaimed collection of exclusive titles. God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima and many more are all exclusives to PlayStation that received highly positive reviews from critics. Not to mention the recent new game announcements, which include sequels to God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man, a remake of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the upcoming Marvel’s Wolverine.
Xbox isn’t entirely devoid of exclusive content, even aside from the Halo series — in fact, Microsoft, Xbox’s parent company, just acquired legendary game studio Bethesda Softworks. Two exclusive games from Bethesda have already been announced, Starfield and Redfall, with rumors that the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls VI could be exclusive as well. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of my favorite games of all time, and I’d be devastated if I couldn’t play the sequel.
Furthermore, I’ve accumulated a sizable collection of games for the Xbox. Assuming I sell off most, if not all, of my current gaming paraphernalia to offset the rather enormous cost of a PlayStation 5, I’d be giving up all the games I’ve bought since middle school.
On the other hand, Xbox offers a Netflix-esque game streaming service called Game Pass Ultimate that would greatly expand my library. The service is only $5 more a month than the subscription for online play, which I would pay on either console. Streaming games would ensure I have access to all the games I’ve played over the years, even if I sell the physical copies, while assuaging the constant fear that I’ll have to pay $60-$70 to purchase any new games I may be interested in. I’d have a head start on the likely future of gaming.
Video games are a massive industry, a significant part of pop culture and a personal pursuit. I’ve invested a lot of time and money into gaming, but now I’m questioning my relationship with a brand I’ve trusted for half my life. This is like deciding to switch from Netflix to Hulu, but with $500+ on the line. If I stay with Xbox, I’ll be content, though I’ll languish every time a fancy PlayStation exclusive releases. If I switch, I’ll enjoy fresh content but neglect the games I know and love. So, soon I’ll truly ask myself — am I someone who stubbornly clings to the old, or do I embrace the new?