The days are counting down to the next generation of consoles, and we are nearly entering the final stretch. Microsoft has already revealed what the Xbox Series X would look like, Sony has had its dev kits leaked, and rumors are swirling around that Nintendo will be releasing a new version of the Nintendo Switch. With such little knowledge known about these upcoming consoles, now serves as the perfect time to reflect on the faults of this current generation of consoles in hopes that each respective company will learn from its past mistakes for this new console generation.
1Microsoft (Xbox Series X)
Microsoft’s greatest struggle during this console generation was the blow it took during the Xbox One’s launch. With such a high price tag, focus on entertainment rather than games, and being a weaker console compared to the PlayStation 4 was a recipe for disaster that Microsoft was never able to recover from. That being said, Microsoft has undoubtedly tried its damndest to make up for that initial fumble that has led to a lot of innovations from the software and marketing front—with the introduction of Xbox Game Pass and Inside Xbox being arguably some of the most notable.
However, one aspect that Microsoft has yet to resolve is its lack of exclusives. Regardless of how you feel about the existence of exclusives, it’s hard to argue for a console manufacturer that they are not essential to their survival. Thankfully, Microsoft has already begun to take steps to rectify this problem by acquiring several new studios, which were announced back at E3 2018. The only problem is that we don’t know what most of these studios are doing, and if the games they are making will be an exclusive title—let alone one that might be seen as high enough quality to be a threat to Sony.
As long as Microsoft can avoid the same mistakes it made with the Xbox One come the Xbox Series X’s launch, coupled with a solid line up for exclusives, Microsoft would easily be in a place to give Sony an actual run for their money.
2Sony (PlayStation 5)
PlayStation 4 was not only the top-selling console this generation, but it also was the second best-selling home console of all time. Sony’s strategy this generation was reasonably straight forward, avoid what Microsoft did, and focus mainly on games. This meant providing exclusive games, quality 1st party titles, and doing whatever else may facilitate those first two points with everything else taking a back seat. What Sony lacked in innovation, was quickly made up for by focusing on providing an enjoyable gaming experience, and eventually, an entry point for VR as well.
This puts Sony in the opposite position of where Microsoft will find itself next generation. While Sony performed phenomenally when it came to games, its all the other aspects that Microsoft worked on the last generation that Sony did not. PlayStation Now, a quasi competitor to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox One’s backward compatibility rolled into one, hasn’t had the same success as those other programs. State of Play, Sony’s response to Nintendo Directs and Inside Xbox has taken up until recently to be a show that was worth watching. And of course, there are all the various small enhancements and changes that Sony still hasn’t or won’t ever provide for the PlayStation 4 that fans have been asking for.
The challenge for Sony and the PlayStation 5 isn’t going to be the games—there is no reason to think this won’t continue being a success—rather, its all the other aspects that are part of a modern gaming console that Sony needs to catch up on. UI updates, patching in additional features, offering similar services such as Microsoft, and providing the support and marketing to get people excited about the PlayStation 5.
As far as the Big 3 goes, Nintendo, at this point, does not directly compete with Microsoft or Sony. This isn’t to say that the Nintendo Switch isn’t a game console, but rather, the aspects that Nintendo chooses to focus on with the Switch is its portability, rather than power. It is because of this that the Nintendo Switch has become a bit of a hot console regarding rereleasing past generation games, taking what was old, and giving it a new life in a portable setting. But for Nintendo to keep this trend up, it also needs to have enough power to support those older games, and as consoles become more powerful, that is going to become tougher and tougher.
It is for this reason that Nintendo needs to launch a new or pro model, once that can take what will soon be the previous generation (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) of titles, and be able to play them. Without making this jump soon, much of the success that Nintendo found in ports will likely dramatically slow down, putting the Switch in a position that many past Nintendo consoles have struggled with. If Nintendo can produce an enhanced version of the Switch soon, then the future will continue to be right for the Switch.