It's strange to think that it's been five years since the release of the Ps4 and the Xbox One. It almost feels like yesterday that everyone was up in arms against the Xbox's initial DRM policies but it's been five years since that debacle. And although in the end, the Ps4's claim to dominance was nothing short of staggering, it's been fascinating to observe both these consoles go through their individual iterations and changes. We're not too far away from a potential Ps5 or Microsoft's next generation hardware, but now is as good a time as any to talk about the history of these two consoles, their 2018 and what they have planned for the future.
The turn of the decade
If you go all the way back to 2010, you'll find yourself looking at a very different picture. The Xbox 360 and Nintendo's home console the Wii were clear victors over the Ps3. Sony had tried their hand with the complex CELL processing with the Ps3, which resulted in developers making games which paled in comparison to the stuff coming out on the Xbox 360. AAA games and multiplatform releases just shone on the Xbox 360's tried and tested x86 architecture. This left Sony in a tight mess; but not without leaving Microsoft overzealous about the future.
Checkmate in two minutes
As E3 2013 rolled in, the stage was set for Sony and Microsoft to reveal their next-generation platforms. But as soon as Don Mattrick revealed the Xbox One's DRM policies, a slew of always online features and a lack of a used games support, it became pretty clear as to what was going to happen with the Xbox One. Sony were content to sit back at the time and just enjoy the show, dishing out hits whenever they could. It took Sony only two minutes of E3 2013, to virtually secure this generation. Sony had it figured out, relying on what worked for them with the Ps3.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it
What saved the Ps3 was going to become the Ps4's main plan of action and that was exclusives. At the time of writing this, there have been 73 exclusive games on the Ps4 as opposed to the Xbox One's measly 12. It also helped that developers didn't have to worry about foreign architecture as the Ps4 was rocking x86 architecture under the hood. So multi-platform titles looked and played similarly on both the Xbox and Ps4. But then some of the best games of the past five years have been mostly Ps4 exclusives which only pushed people into buying the Ps4 as opposed to the Xbox One. Sony were content to just follow through with the “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” mentality throughout the generation releasing one stellar exclusive after the other, leaving Microsoft to do most of the bidding.
No harm in taking risks when you're losing
Now as we progress further into the generation, all the way into 2016, the tides start to shift a little. At this point in time, the Xbox's image had recovered up to a certain extent but they needed a game changer. And on the 2nd of August of 2016 they release the Xbox One S, which was basically the Xbox One but in a much smaller form factor. However, this wasn't hardly the biggest heel-turn left in Microsoft's repertoire. They followed this up with the release of the much awaited Xbox One X which allowed for true 4K gaming and better performances across the board. Games were finally starting to look, feel and perform better on the Xbox. Microsoft were pulling out all the stops, trying to even create in-house studios which could make exclusive content for the Xbox One. Microsoft's E3 2018 conference showed how adamant they were about bringing a lot of first-party exclusives over to the Xbox brand. They announced a new Halo game, a new Gears of War game and Forza Horizon 4 which truly showcases what the Xbox One X can do. All of this and the small quality of life changes that Microsoft have implemented with the Xbox One's UI show that, if you're in second place then you kinda have to pull all the stops. The same can't be said about Sony, however.
Defense is the best offense
The best way to understand Sony's place right now would be to take a look back at E3 2018. For one, Sony did what they always do, which was, release a couple of exclusives for the Ps4, make bundles and sell them. 2018 was no different for them, as they released God of War, Spiderman, and Detroit: Become Human, all to critical acclaim. Sony didn't pioneer any of the hardware shifts this generation, they merely followed Microsoft up with subsequent releases of the Ps4 Slim and the Ps4 Pro. And when it came time for E3 2018, Sony were happy to lean back and showcase exclusive titles that everyone already knew about. It's become increasingly clear that when your competitor doesn't have exclusives to compete with you or are making consoles that do not pose a threat to your market, then you too will naturally go into autopilot and that is perhaps the case with Sony.
It's easy to forget how quickly these five years have gone by but with the Ps5 and the supposed Xbox Two not too far away, I can only hope that Microsoft can live up to their promise of delivering exclusive content, gain rights over more PlayStation franchises and perhaps one-up Sony for whichever future that lies ahead.