It’s safe to say that Microsoft and Sony are adopting very different strategies with the Xbox Series X and PS5. While Microsoft is aiming to unite gamers with titles playable across console generations, Sony has signaled that the PS5 will mostly be about experiences only possible on new hardware.
But how does that sit comfortably with the fact that, on paper at least, the Xbox Series X seems to offer the more computational grunt? In an interview with our sister site, GamesRadar, Microsoft’s director of program management for Xbox Series X, Jason Ronald, attempted to shed some light on that.
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“One of the exciting things about launching a new generation console is you're really setting the direction for the next seven to ten years of game development,” Ronald said. “You're going to see entire new classes of games; transformative gameplay experiences that you've never seen before.”
All of this is possible, Ronald explains, thanks to the power of the Xbox Series X – “a level of performance never before seen in console.” In other words, just because Microsoft is planning on continued support for Xbox One, that doesn’t mean you won’t get a massive benefit in upgrading — especially, Ronald says, in the way games ‘feel’.
“With past console generations, the primary focus has been on graphics improvements — and with this next-generation we'll continue to see a step change in graphical fidelity. But more importantly, with this generation, is the power that you can feel,” Ronald said, explaining that this will manifest itself in the form of high framerates, ultra-low latency and a move towards the elimination of loading times.
But Microsoft knows how important history is to gamers. The company got a major shot in the arm this generation by unexpectedly adding Xbox 360 backwards compatibility midway through. Perhaps that’s why it’s there from the outset for the Series X.
“As we move into this next generation with Xbox Series X, we're really committed to tearing down all the barriers that exist in the ecosystem,” Ronald explained. That doesn’t just mean crossplay backwards compatibility – or “cross-generational play”, as he calls it – but encompasses things like your saved progress, achievements and your very gaming legacy.
“We really want to make sure that everybody's able to play regardless of the device they choose to play on and they have that great shared experience together,” he added.
It’s undoubtedly a bold vision. The question is whether Microsoft’s all inclusive approach will win over gamers, or whether it’ll be Sony’s ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mantra that will triumph when both consoles go head to head later this year.
You can read the full interview at GamesRadar.