With a much larger install base and more beloved exclusives, there’s no question that the PS4 has soundly defeated the Xbox One over the course of this generation. But that could change when the Xbox Series X takes on the PS5 this fall.
Thanks to its superior raw power, robust backwards compatibility and access to a rich library of great services, the Xbox Series X is already positioned to be the best next-gen console you can buy.
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That being said, Sony is looking primed to continue its dominance next generation, with an impressive PS5 games lineup that includes heavy hitters like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon II: Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7. While the Xbox Series X's success will ultimately hinge on how many great exclusives it can deliver in return, here are five reasons why Microsoft's new console can top the PS5.
Better raw power
Looking at the Xbox Series X and PS5 specs side-by-side, Microsoft’s console should come out on top when it comes to sheer performance. The Series X has more teraflops of compute power at 12 TF vs the PS5’s 10.3 TF, and has a slightly larger SSD at 1TB vs the PS5’s 825GB drive. However, the PS5’s SSD has a faster read speed of 5.5GB per second compared to the Xbox Series X’s 2.4GBps.
Of course, specs alone don’t tell the full story, and each system’s gaming performance will ultimately come down to how well developers are able to take advantage of the tech inside of each box. But on paper, the Xbox Series X should allow for the highest-fidelity graphics we’ve seen on a console.
Here’s where Xbox is miles ahead of the competition. Xbox Series X will benefit instantly from Microsoft’s $10-per-month Xbox Game Pass service, which provides access to 100-plus Xbox games for a monthly fee. Game Pass also gets you all first-party Microsoft games at launch, meaning Series X owners won’t have to pay $60 a pop to score hot exclusives such as Halo Infinite and Hellblade 2.
While Sony has its own subscription service in the form of PlayStation Now, that program largely delivers older games with occasional, limited access to major exclusives. Unless Sony makes a big change for PS5, Xbox Series X will be far ahead of the competition in terms of subscription options at launch.
Better backwards (and forward) compatibility
Speaking of having access to great games at launch, the Xbox Series X is already confirmed to support thousands of Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Xbox games out of the gate thanks to backwards compatibility. That includes virtually every Xbox One game, as well as the hundreds of Xbox 360 and Xbox titles already optimized to run on the Xbox One.
But Microsoft isn’t stopping there. Many older games will be able to run on Series X at even better settings, bringing key features such as 4K resolution and blistering 120fps framerates to classic Xbox games from previous generations. Sony has been much less direct about PS5 backwards compatibility, only suggesting that the “overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles” will work on the new console.
Better yet, Microsoft has already promised that those who buy Xbox One titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Halo Infinite will automatically get their upgraded Xbox Series X versions for free via the Smart Delivery program. This feature will apply to all first-party Xbox games, as well as select third-party titles such as Madden NFL 21 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
There's still no word on whether Sony will offer a similar upgrade system for PlayStation fans, and if it doesn't, the PS5 could fall way behind for those with large libraries of legacy games.
An expansive ecosystem
When the Xbox Series X launches, it’ll join a rich Xbox ecosystem that extends across multiple Xbox consoles, Windows 10 and even the cloud. When you buy a game like Halo Infinite, you’ll be able to seamlessly hop between your Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC, picking up right where you left off on the previous platform. And if recent releases like Gears 5 and Sea of Thieves are any indication, Xbox Series X owners will be able to play with Xbox One and PC players on most first-party titles.
Once you factor in Project xCloud, Microsoft’s upcoming cloud gaming service that will let you stream titles to your phone or PC, it’s clear that your Xbox Series X game purchases will go way beyond that specific machine, and can be enjoyed wherever you want to play them in that specific moment. Sony seems to be taking a more rigid stance on PS5 games, insisting that its building experiences that can “only be enjoyed on PS5.”
A potentially better value
Console wars are often won on price, and after stumbling with the Xbox One, Microsoft has a chance to redeem itself with the Xbox Series X. Noted gaming analyst Michael Pachter predicts that Microsoft will take a loss on the Series X and undercut the PS5 by $100. Of course, pricing isn’t confirmed for either console, so we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out later this year.
But even if the Xbox Series X isn’t cheaper than the PS5, it could still be more attainable. The new console will be part of Microsoft’s Xbox All Access program, which currently allows you to lease an Xbox One complete with Xbox Game Pass starting at $20 a month for 24 months. Once you’ve made 18 payments of your current Xbox, you’ll be able to upgrade to the Series X on your plan. We don’t yet know what the monthly price of an Xbox Series X will be under All Access, but the ability to pay for the console in monthly installments could give it a big advantage over the PS5 for budget-conscious gamers.
Microsoft started the Xbox One generation stumbling, with a more expensive, less powerful console that had few killer exclusives to attract gamers. But the Redmond giant has made significant moves over the years, developing a great ecosystem built around seamless cross-platform play, expansive backwards compatibility and great value via Xbox Game Pass.
Of course, Microsoft still has to prove it can deliver where it matters most: The games. The company has built up an impressive stable of developers under its Xbox Games Studio umbrella, but it’ll need exclusive titles on the level of a God of War, The Last of Us or Spider-Man to truly give the PS5 a run for its money. But thanks to its superior hardware, services and feature set, the Xbox Series X is in the best possible position to do just that.