Since Microsofts disastrous launch, Sony has ran away with the #1 spot. It was quite easy to recommend a PS4 to just about every gamer (save Halo/GoW fans) for the past few years, but the tide is starting to turn. Microsoft simply has more money to burn and is using that advantage to offer some extremely high-value propositions to potential owners.
Sony’s PS Now is an interesting idea, trying to offer the Netflix of games but it’s too expensive and streaming games isn’t practical for many. Microsoft’s Game Pass allows you to actually download the game (much better if on limited internet), is half the price, and includes every Xbox first-party exclusive moving forward. While the exclusive list isn’t gigantic, that will still net you enough quality games per year to more than make up for the cost.
If a parent buying a console for their child asked me for buying advice, I’d definitely have them consider this option. For the price of two full priced games per year they’ll get a ton of entertainment options for their kiddos to peruse through and find their favorite genres, helping for other purchases down the road.
AMAZING Backwards Compatibility
PC owners don’t worry about this but for console peasants, we’re often left out. To invest in backwards compatibility adds a ton of up-front cost for Microsoft with virtually zero immediate return. The games were already owned or can be obtained for extremely cheap, most likely second-hand retail that I’m assuming they see zero or very little profit from.
Sony bet big on their monster launch PS3 that could play PS1 and PS2 discs but the initial price point was too high, causing the less-powerful but more consumer and developer friendly 360 to take the lead for most of the generation. Sony hasn’t been willing to invest in consumer benefits that don’t immediately pay for themselves. It’s obviously smart business in the short term, but Microsoft will win fans over with generous programs that almost gurantee 360 owners will follow them to the next generation. Heck, I was a PS3 guy, but I’m now tempted to grab an Xbox One to play through some of the classics I missed.
The Amazing part
Have you seen how amazing Ninja Gaiden Black looks on the Xbox One? You’re not only getting the ability to play games from the previous console, but they’re basically getting remastered, for free! It blows me away that Microsoft figured this out and offers it as a bonus for buying into their ecosystem.
Full disclosure this is not sponsored by Microsoft, I haven’t owned one of their consoles since the original Xbox. As a PS4 owner, I’m quite jealous of this perk but happy to see the pressure put on Sony. This is why monopolies are bad for consumers, as competition raises quality.
What they’re doing wrong
Putting Exclusives on Windows
Microsoft announced their ‘Play Anywhere’ initiative, providing cross-buy support for their first-party exclusives. While it’s a nice bonus for Xbox owners to play their games on a PC, it also neutralizes their small pool of exclusives. If a PC-only owner can now have access to the best Xbox games, they’re better off purchasing a PS4 or Switch to maximize their pool of exclusives. Exclusives are a huge selling point for many, and this is one time I feel Microsoft is being too generous.
I love that Microsoft is constantly nipping at Sony’s heels with fantastic initiatives that truly add value to their player base. Sony and Nintendo will have to seriously step up any kind of subscription service or backwards compatibility to keep up.