PS5 and Xbox Series X have taken seven years to get here, and their release date – holiday 2020 – no longer seems far away. Although the PS5 has yet to be officially revealed, we do know that both will be absolutely stacked with hardware, and will likely come at a hefty price tag.
However, why buy a console at all if streaming games is the future? Although both Sony and Microsoft have their own streaming services in PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia recently became the latest service to attempt to cut out the middleman and provide games from the internet to your TV or PC, with no console in between. (Consult our full Google Stadia review to see how well it did.)
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Microsoft head of Xbox Phil Spencer believes physical consoles still have a place, and streaming could even extend the lifespan of the next generation. Speaking to Insomniac Games' Ted Price on the Game Maker's Notebook podcast, Spencer clarified what cloud-based gaming really means for Xbox Series X and PS5 fans:
“I think that getting to a world where you don’t have to own one device to play specific games helps the industry. That doesn’t mean owning a device isn’t part of my gameplay experience.
"I think I’m going to have a game console plugged into my television for the next decade-plus.”
This is encouraging for console lovers. While an admirable idea, Google Stadia was found to have a "less stable" experience than either PC or console gaming. The technology was found to be imperfect, although streaming big-budget games with relatively few compromises is sure to become more commonplace as subsequent advances in gaming are made.
Phil Spencer does discuss how streaming services are best used in tandem with consoles. If you have a console capable of providing 12 Teraflops of graphical power as the Xbox Series X will be able to do, you'll be able to access a vast library of games through streaming services and run them using the console as a buffer, as many gamers do now with PS4 and Xbox One.
When it comes to streaming games, we believe the big turning point will be 5G technology. Playing a game on a console, only to save, leave your house and pick the game up at the same point on your smartphone could be a revelation in the future, although mobile gamers will have to suffer many of the same problems as the early Google Stadia has found: lag and instability.
However, this is one of those issues time, and the clever people at Microsoft and Sony, will be able to solve. Eventually, we anticipate you'll be able to use the PS5 and Xbox Series X as a "hub" of sorts, where you can play purchased games at their best, only to compromise should you want to stream those games from your home to a handheld or mobile device.
Are you excited to see how streaming fits in with the world of next-generation consoles? Us too. We can't wait to get both PS5 and Xbox Series X in our hands at the end of the year, so we can predict what the next decade of gaming holds.