I still don’t have an ounce of excitement for either machine. As much as executives want to tell us this is the biggest generational leap ever, it’s clearly an iterative one due to market circumstance.
In addition to the new machines largely being direct continuations on the current generation, we live in a multi-platform by which the new big, expensive home consoles are only a small chunk. The third party support shown at last month’s Series X showcase and yesterday’s PS5 event speaks volumes about this.
Both Sony and Microsoft showed the extent to which they could show based on marketing deals and timed exclusivity, and it really just boiled down to a very small number of games (Resident Evil 8, Tokyo Ghostwire, new concepts from Square and Capcom, Assassin’s Creed Yakuza 7 port, GTA V port, Control port, your yearly sports games), with indies having to fill the gaps. You could very well make a case for those indie games existing without the PS5 or Series X, they were only shown because they hadn’t been announced yet, and they happened to be on those formats too.
Simply put: So long as the PS4’s 100m+, Xbox One’s 50m+, Switch’s 50m+ and the 200m(?)+ PC players continue to be active, there is very little incentive to build bespoke games for the new consoles. Even Ghostwire: Tokyo was likely built for current systems before Sony bagged it for timed exclusivity.
Going back to the indie games, not a single one felt like they were designed to utilise PS5, which was surprising given the advanced haptics on the controller. The Switch, despite it also conforming in a multi-platform world, did at least make the console local multiplayer experience portable, and the initial wave of indie titles focused on that (Snipperclips is probably the most famous one, and TumbleSeed was all about the HD Rumble).
That’s not a fault of the games - many of which look great, but perhaps the hardware losing its ‘wow’ factor. Perhaps the PS4 Pro and One X made it much harder to sell these new consoles as well - that ‘4k’ marketing box has already been ticked. For all its flaws the Wii U may well have been the last console to have a truly interesting launch because it eschewed the familiar. In doing so, and in offering so much exciting newness that was hard to take in at once it certainly evoked those days where a new console was a brand new experience rather than a more refined one.
The Switch also got there eventually for me through the appeal of bringing local multiplayer anywhere, so maybe it’s too early to discount the Series X and PS5. But current circumstances suggest we’re in for something iterative, which is fine, but boring.