A Single Game Could Make Or Break PS5’s Fall Release Against Xbox Series X

A Single Game Could Make Or Break PS5’s Fall Release Against Xbox Series X

Things are sort of…weird in the current next-gen console pre-launch era we now live in. The pandemic has killed off E3 and now we are getting digital-only events scattered over the next few months.

Microsoft has been talking about the Xbox Series X non-stop, but had a somewhat disappointing next-gen games reveal last week. Recent analysis suggests they could end up trying to undercut Sony with the Series X’s not-yet-announced price, putting them in an awkward position with the Series X also having more power.

Sony, meanwhile, has shared far less information about the PS5, and we only have rumors about when it’s doing a full reveal (early June, supposedly). We still don’t know what the box looks like or the price or really any launch games outside of a few third party titles and Godfall, from Gearbox (also on PC).

And yet, whenever we talk about Sony being put on its back foot with Microsoft’s aggressive Series X stance, be that power or potential price, there’s always one counter-argument that comes up.

“Well, it’s all about the games.”

Microsoft is playing offense here, too. They are continuing to promise that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the Series X, and another series like Hellblade should produce its sequel not too long after. I expect them to announce a new Fable for 2021 when they do their first party games showcase in July.

And yet, the opportunity for Sony to take back the conversation seems readily apparent. While I don’t know what Halo Infinite will be like, I do know that I firmly believe that Halo peaked in the Bungie era with Halo 3 back in 2007, and the 343-era titles, Halo 4 and 5, though fine, are not exactly on the same level.

But PlayStation still has a tremendous host of potential launch window games they could be hiding up their sleeve. And I think all it would take is one, a true exclusive (unlike Xbox’s cross-PC releases) to change the entire conversation.

I do not mean one specific title I can name, I mean just one out of a collection they have in their roster. In another life, maybe that could have been The Last of Us Part 2, but that was developed as a PS4 title which may be converted to PS5 in some way, but that’s not the same.

The main potential surprise launch release I could see happening above most others might be Horizon Zero Dawn 2, a last-gen hit where we know a sequel has been in the works for a while, and that could be the thing to point to if it manages to be out for launch.

I have less faith that other titles are far enough along to make a similar impact. God of War 2 is coming, but there’s a zero percent chance it’s a surprise launch game. The same for Bloodborne 2, most likely. I’d kill for a Spider-Man sequel, which perhaps could be a little more reasonable. It’s also unlikely that Naughty Dog is done with the Uncharted franchise forever, though returning to that post-Nathan Drake is years away, given TLOU2 development.

But the point I’m making is that if Sony can even have one anticipated sequel or blockbuster game from one of its treasured first party studios, it could negate power advantage, price advantage, a lot of things, because people just must have that game. I don’t think Halo Infinite is going to be that game for fans that aren’t already Xbox diehards, so that leaves a door open for Sony.

But they may not be able to walk through it. It’s possible all the games I mentioned are just too far away, and they’ll have to be content with big third party games that Xbox also shares like AC Valhalla, and trust that their magic SSD is enough to make converts of players, or retain them from last gen. And given how much they won last gen by, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assumption.

I do think Sony has a few answers they need to provide on other fronts to make this a more even playing field. Are they going to embrace something like the Xbox Game Pass, which is effectively a core part of that system now? PS Now is not cutting it. Are they going to do a similar version of Microsoft’s cross-gen upgrade program, where players can buy last-gen games and upgrade them to PS5 versions for free? We have no idea.

I think Sony is in a great position because of how successful the PS4 generation was on every front, but they have displayed relative unsteadiness so far. But all it would take is one big game announcement to fundamentally change that conversation.

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