Xbox Series X or PS5 (Illustration by Melchisedech Quagrainie, Columbia College Chicago)

Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Which Console Is Right for You?

As gamers get ready for the next generation of gaming devices, they also have a tough choice in front of them.
October 16, 2020
6 mins read

With both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 set to launch on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12 respectively, gamers around the nation are excited and eager to get their hands on the latest next-gen consoles. Both Sony and Microsoft have promised lightning speeds, better graphics, 4K gaming, more storage and numerous other hardware improvements. All of these upgrades are highly alluring to hardcore and casual gamers alike. The price tag of $499, however, can be quite the investment, so gamers may have to think long and hard before committing to either console.

That begs the question, which console is right for you? Both consoles offer similar experiences while each containing significant differences, so making the best choice can be difficult. Luckily, we’re here to break down what each console offers so you can make the right decision this holiday season.

Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X was first announced in December 2019 at The Game Awards. With its announcement came the beginning of the ninth generation of consoles. While some criticized Microsoft’s unconventional naming patterns, many were pleased with the design.

Their previous console, the Xbox One, launched to immediate criticism due to inconvenient hardware quirks like always being connected to the internet, being packaged with the gimmicky Kinect system, privacy concerns and the lack of enticing exclusive games for the system. Microsoft looked to correct and improve upon their mistakes with their next console, and with Executive Vice President Phil Spencer’s promise of a breathtaking experience, gamers can’t help but be excited. But what exactly does the Xbox Series X offer?

Priced at $499, the Xbox Series X is reported to be more powerful than the PS5, so it’s an important element to keep in mind if performance and graphical capabilities are a big factor in your decision. The Xbox Series X will also be backwards compatible, meaning gamers will be able to enjoy titles from all previous Xbox consoles on the next-gen system at a much better performance rate.

Where things start to differ with the Xbox Series X however, is on the actual games. Xbox has often been seen as the console for multiplayer co-op games, while also championing popular exclusives like the “Halo” franchise. Yet, the Xbox Series X, much like its predecessor, is considerably lacking in major first-party exclusives.

Microsoft, however, isn’t emphasizing exclusives this generation. Instead, Microsoft is promoting their Game Pass service. Think of Game Pass as Netflix but for gaming. For the price of $14.99 per month, gamers have access to a wide library of games that they can download directly to their console or PC. They even get access to same-day launch titles such as the new “Halo Infinite.” Gamers can also download games for a reduced price if they want to own the actual game.

While Game Pass is definitely an alluring service, it may not be for everyone. Keep in mind that you’re paying a monthly subscription fee for a library of constantly rotating games, rather than owning the actual games. While you can choose to purchase the game, it may not be worth it in the long run if you want to build a larger game library. Also, it’s important to keep in mind the lack of notable single player experiences.

PlayStation 5

Where Microsoft is lacking, Sony is excelling. Sony’s focus, like the previous generation, has been on their impressive list of first-party exclusive games, such as “God of War,” the highly acclaimed “Spider-Man” and “Gran Turismo 7.”  This impressive list of exclusives gave the PlayStation 4 its edge over the Xbox One in the previous generation. Sony continues to highlight and entice gamers by showing off the innovative and breathtaking experiences of their exclusive titles.

The PlayStation console itself has gone through a major redesign, sporting a slick white coat rather than the conventional black of previous consoles. While this new design was met with some criticism, no one can deny that the new pattern is a bold stylistic choice.

While PlayStation has services similar to Game Pass called PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus, Sony isn’t revolving their whole marketing strategy around those programs. Instead, Sony is going all-in on their first-party exclusives — games you can only play on PlayStation — to convince gamers to purchase a PS5.

Those are the basic differences between both consoles. If you’re more of a casual gamer looking for an innovative multiplayer experience you can enjoy with friends online, then the Xbox Series X may be better for you. With Game Pass as well, you can try out loads of games without breaking the bank.

On the other hand, if you care more about the single player experience, then the PlayStation 5 may be the better choice. After all, you could still play those same multiplayer games from the Xbox Series X on the PS5 with similar results.

Again, the $499 price tag can be quite daunting, but luckily for gamers on a budget, both Microsoft and Sony are launching cheaper, all-digital versions of their consoles with their main counterparts.

The PlayStation 5 all-digital edition is priced at $399, whereas the all-digital Xbox Series S costs $299. Normally both Microsoft and Sony don’t come out with cheaper versions of their consoles until a few years into the generation, but this move by both companies gives gamers the most options to make the right choice for them.

To sum up, if performance and the Game Pass subscription service entices you the most, then go with the Xbox Series X or the S. If you care more about the single player experience, you can’t go wrong with the PlayStation 5. No matter what decision you make, both consoles are top-of-the-line, so at the end of the day, gamers all around the nation win.

Alex Luna, University of California, Berkeley

Writer Profile

Alex Luna

University of California, Berkeley

Student at UC Berkeley currently majoring in English. Lover of all things anime, literature, sports and debating the possibility of parallel universes.

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