Why Is the PS5 More Hyped than the Series X?
by Adam Pease
Both of 2020’s next-gen gaming consoles are in high demand, and both are hard to find. The Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 are turning heads, but in the past six months, social media has been on fire with hype for Sony’s console rather than Microsoft’s. In this blog, we try to understand why there is so much hype around the PS5, and relatively little surrounding the launch of the Series X.
Xbox Series X vs. PS5: Hardware Is Not the Dealbreaker
Across social media, the hype for the PS5 has been electric. Since the middle of 2020 it has been clear to anyone on Twitter that Sony’s console has been the talk of the town—Microsoft’s less so. The Series X has flown under the radar. While Sony’s effective marketing teams definitely deserve some credit here, the real story for why the PS5 is this year’s console-to-have requires a deeper look.
In terms of hardware, both consoles are essentially identical. The baseline PS5 costs the same as the Xbox Series (though Sony's comes with an option for a cheaper, digital PS5 design). While the GPU and SSD of the Series X do marginally outperform Sony’s console, this will likely not be a factor most buyers. Instead, we can count on console sales being driven by the games available, and this is where Sony excels.
Microsoft and Sony: Exclusive Titles Can Make or Break a Console
Much of the hype for the PS5 can be attributed to the success of the PS4 in the latest console generation. While the Xbox 360 was the darling console of the mid-2000s, with its dedicated multiplayer gaming fanbase making it the default choice for teens wanting to socialize online, the PS4 is increasingly coming to be regarded as the winner of the last “console war.” It’s important to understand how this occurred.
While Sony is slightly smaller in revenues than Microsoft, it has shown a significantly larger focus on game exclusive content tied to the launch of the PS5. It would be natural to expect that Microsoft’s investment capabilities would position it to succeed in a console market that is often driven by the exclusivity of games. However, it seems that Sony has won over customers with its success securing exclusives in the last console generation.
Sony has built a number of valuable third-party partnerships that have guaranteed a steady stream of exclusives, but where the manufacturer really shines is with its in-house game development studios. Studios like Sony Santa Monica, the developer of the critically-acclaimed God of War, and Naughty Dog, developer of this year’s Game of the Year, the Last of Us 2, have convinced customers that buy sticking with Sony, they will continue to have access to the best games. In the past, Microsoft made this kind of move with studios like Bungie, but has since fallen behind.
The fact is that in the last console generation, many of the most sought-after and critically-acclaimed games were exclusive to the PS4. In this way, the hype surrounding the PS4 demonstrates an important lesson about customer loyalty. Even though few titles have released for either console, customers are clamoring to get their hands on new hardware in anticipation of the quality of exclusive PS5 games.
Supply Chain Issues: How to Get a Next-Gen Console
Aragon has been fielding questions from friends and clients about how they might get their hands on a PS5 for some time now. While it is still possible to find the consoles on the second-hand market, Amazon reports that it cannot even say when it will be restocking. Scalpers are using bots to buy up the small number of consoles that are being made available for purchase before humans have a chance.
While many would like to pick up the consoles for the holiday season, we feel most will have to wait until the new year, perhaps even until next summer, before competition over the slow drip of retail drops slows down. This reality underscores the dramatic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the logistics of manufacturing and shipping worldwide, while also suggesting that both manufacturers may have undershot in their sales estimates.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X are both comparable pieces of hardware, but Sony’s console has outshined Microsoft’s in terms of hype and sheer consumer demand. While both consoles will be hard for buyers to get their hands on for some time, the PS5’s hype conveys an important lesson about the power of platform exclusivity to drive customer loyalty.