PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Which console should you get this Black Friday?

PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which console wins?
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The PS5 and Xbox Series X have both been out for two years, and they’re finally a little bit easier to find than they once were. You can’t just walk a store and pick one up anytime you feel like it, but restocks tend to be available for hours or days rather than seconds.

Nevertheless, if you’re planning to pick up a PS5 or Xbox Series X for Black Friday, you may run into some stiff competition. Game consoles are routinely top contenders for holiday gifts, and this year probably won’t be an exception.

While PS5 restocks and Xbox Series X restocks may be scarce on Black Friday, you should have the opportunity to buy one or the other at some point within the next week, at least if you’re assiduous. If you plan to buy either a PS5 or an Xbox Series X for Black Friday, but aren’t sure which console to go with, we’ll sum up the major pros and cons, as well as which games and accessories you’ll want to grab.

PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: Cheat sheet

PS5 vs Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

First off, if you want a detailed comparison of the two consoles, you should consult our PS5 vs. Xbox Series X faceoff. In this piece, we break down each console’s specs, price, game library, performance, design, controller and more.

If you don’t have time to go through the whole thing now, however, here’s a brief overview:

The PS5 and Xbox Series X have more commonalities than differences. They both cost $500, they both play huge libraries of high-quality games, they both perform similarly well, and they both double as passable streaming media/4K Blu-ray players. If you just want a powerful console to play third-party games, such as Madden NFL 23 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you can get either system and call it a day.

The big differences between the two consoles involve physical design, controller shape, exclusive games and game subscriptions. To address the first two points, the PS5 is ugly; the Xbox Series X is less ugly. The PS5 controller is innovative, but oddly shaped; the Xbox Series X controller plays its safe, but feels a little more comfortable.

Exclusive games and game subscriptions are much meatier issues. Sony has built the PlayStation brand on strong exclusives, and the PS5 is no exception. This year alone, we’ve had the best-in-class Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War Ragnarök. The Xbox Series X, on the other hand, has no true exclusives, as every first-party Xbox title is also available on PC, and for streaming via Xbox Game Pass.

Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, it’s one of the best features of the Xbox Series X — although you don’t technically need a console to use it. With this subscription service, you can download more than 400 games to a console or gaming PC, or stream almost as many to a smartphone or Web browser. Sony’s counterpart, PlayStation Plus, is much more limited. While you can still download or stream hundreds of games to a PS5, the PC app is a mess, and there are no smartphone apps at all.

In short: the PS5 has a more robust exclusive game library, but Xbox Series X makes it easier to play games on any screen you want.

Holiday games for PS5 and Xbox Series X

God of War Ragnarok

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

As we discussed in the previous section, the PS5 and Xbox Series X have exactly the same library, for the most part. To put this in context, consider the NPD’s video game sales statistics. In October 2022, eight of the 10 most popular games were available on both consoles; in the year-to-date sales, seven out of the 10 most popular games were available on both consoles. Only two PS5 exclusives (Horizon and Gran Turismo) cracked the top 10, while the other exclusive games were all on the Nintendo Switch.

Based on sales data, search traffic and our own observations, here are some popular games for this holiday season. Most of them are available on both consoles:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest entry in Activision’s long-running military shooter series, and it’s likely to be one of the biggest-selling games of the holiday season. By now, you know the drill: You can play through a modern-day war campaign, or you can jump into competitive multiplayer with your friends and rivals.

Elden Ring: $59 (opens in new tab)

Elden Ring: $59 $52 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Elden Ring isn’t a new game, having debuted in February. But it’s been one of the most popular and critically acclaimed games all year long, and that’s not likely to change in the next few weeks. In this ultra-difficult action/RPG, you create an adventurer and guide him or her through the mysterious Lands Between.

God of War Ragnarök: $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)

God of War Ragnarök: $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
PS5 Exclusive:
God of War Ragnarök is the highly anticipated sequel to God of War (2018). You’ll take control of the deicidal Kratos and his son Atreus as they try to prevent Ragnarök: the end of the world in Norse myth. Along the way, they’ll fight a whole pantheon of gods, and work their way through a heartfelt story about duty and family.

Gotham Knights: $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)

Gotham Knights: $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
While Gotham Knights may not be a great game, it’s one of the most popular titles currently available. It just goes to show you that people like Batman media, no matter what form it takes. In this action/RPG, you’ll take control of Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood and Robin as they take on some of Gotham’s greatest criminals in the absence of the Caped Crusader.

NBA 2K23: $69 (opens in new tab)

NBA 2K23: $69 $39 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Yearly sports games tend to go one of two ways: More of the same, or a meaningful upgrade. NBA 2K23 is definitely the latter. Not only does it provide this year’s NBA roster and an improved career mode, but it also lets you relive some of the greatest moments in NBA history, from the ‘80s all the way up to the present day.

Black Friday PS5 and Xbox Series X restocks

An Xbox Series X and a Controller on a TV stand

(Image credit: Future)

We know for a fact that there will be some PS5 restocks on Black Friday. At present, Walmart has confirmed that it will host three separate restock events: 12 PM ET on November 21, 12 PM ET on November 23 and all day in stores on November 25 (Black Friday itself). You need to be a Walmart plus member for the first one, but not the latter two.

The Xbox Series X is a little more mysterious at present. No retailer has made a specific announcement about Xbox Series X availability. However, the Xbox Series X has been more widely available than the PS5 in general, so just check the usual suspects over the next few weeks, and you should be able to pick something up. At the time of writing, you can get an Xbox Series X at Best Buy (opens in new tab) or Staples (opens in new tab), or directly from Microsoft (opens in new tab).

You can also get a $300 Xbox Series S fairly easily. The Series S is considerably less powerful than the Series X, as it maxes out at 1440p resolution and lacks a disc drive. However, if you have an older TV or a mid-range gaming monitor, you may be better off with the cheaper, more widely available Series S.

$569 @ Walmart (opens in new tab)

PS5 God of War Ragnarök Bundle: $569 @ Walmart (opens in new tab)
Walmart will offer three chances to buy the PS5 God of War Ragnarök bundle in the days leading up to Black Friday. This package includes the standard PS5 (with a disc drive), as well as a digital copy of God of War Ragnarök. The system and the game are both excellent, and may be hard to come by this holiday season.

Xbox Series X: $499 @ Best Buy (opens in new tab)

Xbox Series X: $499 @ Best Buy (opens in new tab)
The Xbox Series X is currently in stock at Best Buy, although we don't know how long this arrangement will last. The standard $499 console doesn't come with any games, but you do get one controller, and it's fully compatible with your existing Xbox One library — as well as select Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles.

Xbox Series S: $299 (opens in new tab)

Xbox Series S: $299 $249 @ GameStop (opens in new tab)
The Xbox Series S is a less powerful version of the Xbox Series X. While it doesn't offer 4K resolution or a disc drive, it can still play a huge library of games with fluid frame rates and fast load times. If you have a 1080p TV or a 1440p monitor, this is arguably the system to get.

Black Friday deals on PS5 and Xbox Series X games

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There are already quite a few good Black Friday deals available for PS5 and Xbox Series X games, although we imagine there will be even better ones next week. Still, if you want any of the games in question, you might want to pick them up while they’re still in stock:

Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut:  $69 (opens in new tab)

Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut: $69 $49 @ Amazon (opens in new tab) (PS5)
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is an improved and expanded edition of the hit PS4 game. In this open-world action/adventure title, you’ll take control of medieval samurai Jin Sakai as he repels the devastating Mongol invasion. The Director’s Cut offers better graphics and the substantial Iki Island DLC.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart:  $59 (opens in new tab)

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart: $59 $49 @ Amazon (opens in new tab) (PS5)
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is perhaps the PS5’s flagship game, combining tight gameplay, gorgeous graphics and a delightful story. This time around, intergalactic adventurers Ratchet and Clank find themselves hopping across dimensions — which they can do almost instantaneously, thanks to the PS5’s rapid load times.

Forza Horizon 5: $59 (opens in new tab)

Forza Horizon 5: $59 $32 @ Amazon (opens in new tab) (Xbox Series X)
Forza Horizon 5 is exclusive to Xbox devices and gaming PCs, and it’s a pretty good argument for investing in one of those platforms. This open-world racing game takes place in Mexico, and lets you explore the country’s beautiful beaches, scenic mountains and forbidding ruins. Racing is the main gameplay mechanic, but you can also collect and customize a wide variety of cars.

Halo Infinite: $59 (opens in new tab)

Halo Infinite: $59 $19 @ Amazon (opens in new tab) (Xbox Series X)
Even though it’s not technically an Xbox Series X exclusive (it’s on Xbox One and gaming PCs, too), Halo Infinite is arguably the console’s flagship game. Master Chief returns for another sci-fi shooter adventure, this time in a semi-open world. An innovative grappling hook helps him navigate the vast spaces, and it’s just as much fun as it sounds.

Black Friday deals on PS5 and Xbox Series X accessories

PS5 DualSense controller with Horizon Forbidden West game

(Image credit: Future)

While the PS5 and Xbox Series X themselves probably won't see any Black Friday discounts, we usually see some excellent deals on accessories this time of year. To start, we've recommended an additional controller and a mid-range wireless headset for each system.

PS5 DualSense: $69 (opens in new tab)

PS5 DualSense: $69 $49 @ GameStop (opens in new tab)
The PS5 DualSense is an innovative controller that features subtle haptic feedback, especially with first-party Sony games. Having a second controller is a necessity if you want to play couch co-op games, but it’s also helpful if you’re a single-player aficionado who wants to switch off controllers when you run out of battery.

PlayStation Pulse 3D Wireless Headset: $99 (opens in new tab)

PlayStation Pulse 3D Wireless Headset: $99 $69 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
The PS5 employs nuanced Tempest 3D audio, and that means you’ll need a high-end headset to make the most of it. The PlayStation Pulse 3D Wireless Headset is a Sony gadget, meaning it’s optimized for the PS5. It even looks the part, with a stark black and white color scheme. With rich sound quality and a comfortable fit, this is a good mid-range choice.

Xbox Series X controller: $59 (opens in new tab)

Xbox Series X controller: $59 $39 @ Best Buy (opens in new tab)
The Xbox Series X controller is perhaps the most versatile controller in gaming. It works with the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One, as well as PCs, Macs, Android phones, iPhones, smart TVs — the list goes on. With coarse-textured grips and a comfortable button layout, the Xbox Series X controller is a smart investment for both Xbox owners and other types of gamers.

Xbox Wireless Headset: $99 (opens in new tab)

Xbox Wireless Headset: $99 $94 @ Amazon (opens in new tab)
Microsoft’s own wireless Xbox headset is one of the best you can get. The Xbox Wireless Headset lets you connect wireless to Xbox consoles via Microsoft’s own protocol, or to PCs and smartphones via Bluetooth. With a comfortable fit and good sound quality, the Xbox Wireless Headset is a no-nonsense peripheral that does more than you’d expect for the price.

PS5 and Xbox Series X Black Friday outlook

Whether you want a PS5 or an Xbox Series X on Black Friday, you’ll probably have to do a little legwork to get one. Both consoles are extremely popular and tend to sell out quickly. That’s no surprise, considering that each one is an excellent piece of hardware with a rich selection of games to play.

Generally speaking, if you want to play Sony-exclusive series, such as God of War and Ratchet & Clank, you’ll need a PS5. On the other hand, if you want to take full advantage of Xbox Game Pass and the ability to play games on almost any screen in (or out of) your home, you’ll want the Xbox Series X. If you don’t feel strongly about either category, then either system should be fine.

Stay tuned to Tom’s Guide, as we’ll keep this page updated with the best Black Friday deals we can find.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.