The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S should have waited until a November 2021 launch. As we are coming off of one of the best generations in gaming’s history, beating the hype of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One required far more time than Sony and Microsoft allowed. Here’s why next-gen consoles should have been delayed.
The 8th Generation
*Note: I am omitting the Nintendo Switch from this discussion. It lands oddly in between the 8th and 9th generations of consoles.*
Late 2013 was a special time for gamers. People from all around the world could hardly wait for November 2013 and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release. Both consoles had different things to offer and would continue to improve over their lifecycles.
Although it had a rough launch (and pre-launch), the Xbox One was able to bring so much to the table. Like its Xbox Game Pass service, seamless ecosystem, strong lineup of games, and continual UI/QoL improvements. Despite its lackluster catalog of first-party exclusives, Microsoft did implement some enticing titles during the Xbox One years, like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Gears of War 4 and 5, Sunset Overdrive, Forza, and more. To help add more to the first-party lineup, Xbox even acquired a number of new studios. They are now living under the Xbox Game Studios name. The future looks bright for Xbox. Microsoft set the bar high with the Xbox 360, but was still able to leave me impressed with the Xbox One.
On the other hand, Sony had a lot to prove coming off of the underwhelming PlayStation 3. PlayStation 4 had very little room for error, and Sony came out swinging with a $399 price point. Plus plans for tons of new exclusives, a revamped controller (finally!), PSVR, and a lot more happening behind the scenes. Most of the generation’s biggest hits came out of the PlayStation 4, like God of War, The Last of Us, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Persona 5… the list goes on. While Xbox focused more on “overall entertainment” at the beginning of the generation, PlayStation set out to prove that they were indeed the best place to play games. No matter what kind of gamer you may be.
The 8th generation of games was home to some of the greatest experiences ever to be had in gaming. The seven years that they controlled the televisions of millions of people globally were the best years I’ve ever had as a gamer.
After seven years with the 8th generation of consoles, people started to wonder about what would come next. The Xbox 360 lasted about eight years, and the PlayStation 3 about seven years. If things were to stay consistent, 2020 was considered the most anticipated date for a potential console refresh. When the Xbox Series X was officially revealed at The Game Awards 2019, the suspicions became reality. The next console would come out in the holiday season of 2020.
Sony took a different approach to the PlayStation 5’s announcement, choosing to release information in bits over a long period of time. We wouldn’t even know what the system looked like until June, just five months before its release.
Then disaster struck.
It was expected that the COVID-19 outbreak would slow down the next-gen rollout. Many thought that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X would be delayed. A number of launch titles were pushed back and manufacturing shut down in many parts of the world. With console launches happening only once every seven or eight years, surely Sony and Microsoft would take their time to make it as perfect and special as possible, right?
Problems with the 2021 Next-Gen Console Releases
There are a ton of reasons why next-gen consoles could have waited at least another year. Here are the biggest issues with the 2020 release.
1.) Manufacturing issues – With all of the issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, factory workers and designers had to take extra precautions. In some cases, they had to completely shut down for periods of time. It’s no secret that the consoles were short-supplied… so why did they choose to launch anyway? Did they not learn anything from the PlayStation 4 launch?
2.) Design issues – These consoles do not look like the result of eight years of development. The PlayStation 5’s heatsink is massive and essentially caused the entire console to grow, resulting in a monster form factor. Most people, like myself, have their shelves/desks set up to accommodate the smaller sizes of the Xbox One and PS4. So having systems as big as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have led some to completely rearrange their setup. Some have even had to buy completely new entertainment centers, just to make room. Mark my words, we will have smaller iterations of these consoles by 2023… all they needed to do was take their time.
As far as the controller goes, Joystick drift is becoming an issue with the PlayStation 5’s DualSense just months into its lifetime. Another year of development would have been crucial for the controller, but they just had to release 2020, right? Even the SSD expansion slot is locked because Sony is still working on certifying expansion systems… 650GB on a next-gen console is a total joke!
3.) Lack of launch titles – There is no reason to buy a next-gen console with the current lineup of “next-gen” games. All games labeled for PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series X/S are playable on PlayStation 4 / Xbox One. Those systems will be supported for at least the next couple of years anyway. And no, Demon’s Souls is not a new experience – it’s a remaster of a PlayStation 3 game. With some of the most anticipated titles set to launch in the future, it wouldn’t have hurt to release the next-gen systems at the same time as those games. It certainly would have made it a more worthy purchase.
4.) Console rollout – With the COVID-19 pandemic still being very dangerous, retail stores have taken measures to ease the number of people in stores at once. Thus leading to next-gen console rollouts going online-only. With an online-only rollout comes the threat of scalpers and refresh-bots… and sure enough, they have proven as vicious as ever. Getting a next-gen console straight from a retailer at MSRP is near impossible, so the number of systems that are sitting in players’ homes is disappointingly low. Another year for society to return to somewhat normal could have made a huge difference.
5.) PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are still great consoles in 2021 – Most games that released in 2020 and those that are slated for release later this year are supported for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Gamers could have survived with 8th gen for another year, just enough time for Sony and Microsoft to make the finishing touches on their respective systems to ensure an awesome next-gen launch.
“Good things come to those who wait”
Do you agree with my take on the next-gen console launch? Do you think a November 2021 release would have fixed some of the issues we are seeing today? Let us know!