Sony is running its mouth off about the next PlayStation 5 and Microsoft is relatively mum on what’s coming next for its Xbox line of consoles.
But that hasn’t stopped analysts from already drawing the battlelines and ascribing strengths and weaknesses to platforms that don’t exist yet.
Still, one thing does seem very, very clear from both Microsoft’s own press and Sony’s ambitions: Microsoft has not interest in the VR market in gaming…at least not yet.
Sure, there’s the hololens project but that is augmented reality and it is a commercial-grade piece of kit.
This could all change, though, once Microsoft finally does show off its next Xbox.
Yet, as it stands now, most people think that the big thing that will distinguish the next PlayStation from the next Xbox is the degree to which virtual reality is a big deal for that system.
Namely, it is offered by one and completely ignored by the other.
In fact, most people see it coming down to Microsoft’s ability to leverage cloud gaming and streaming services to give it an edge over PlayStation.
Senior Market Analyst Tom Wijman at Newzoo told Inverse.com that, “The strategies are not necessarily aimed at the same audience, so there is definitely a scenario where both work…[Gamers don’t have] to rely on VR or cloud gaming — there are plenty of scenarios where players use both,” he said. “Particularly as Microsoft’s games will be available with or without an Xbox console, it will be easier than ever for players to play both PlayStation and Microsoft games.”
That might be a bit simplistic, but it is probably not far off of the mark.
The reason it is simplistic is because it assumes that Sony will not be attacking streaming gaming and mainline gaming just as hard as Microsoft.
Plus, this analysis gives the edge to the company with the better technology, not the company with the better IP.
There’s no doubt that Sony will make VR a huge pillar of their future as a company, but, make no mistake, their onslaught of exclusive, first-party games will not stop.
In fact, it is that exact stream of games that has put the PlayStation 4 well ahead of the Xbox One in the current console race.
There’s little reason to think that this will change and that gamers will drop or ignore a system with hot exclusives in favor of a system that mines older IP a la Netflix with a smattering of exclusive content here and there.
Moreover, though many people do this, saying that Microsoft will leverage the cloud and streaming for success in the next generation ignores the challenge posed by Google and their Stadia concept.
Basically, the next generation is going to be really complicated and there’s going to be a ton of new technology floating around.
But if the games aren’t there, none of that will save a system. It’s that simple.