Reflection | The next-gen experience – November was not the least month for gaming. The Xbox Series X | S was released worldwide on 10 November, the PlayStation 5 in America on 12 November, while the Europeans could also get started a week later. Many of you will undoubtedly have a nice next-gen console, but there are also many consumers who have fished behind the net. The pre-orders in Sony’s camp went anything but smooth and people will be sitting on the internet like bounty hunters for a Sony (or Xbox) console. It is therefore worthwhile to share our own experiences with you, as each of us has a different experience of moving into the next generation. For example, Nando was struggling and Johnny seemed just a little more prepared. Let’s hear from you!
It should be clear that there has been a lot to do in recent weeks regarding the launch of the PlayStation 5 and that is – if you ask me – largely due to Sony. I could devote a whole column to that, but to keep it short, I have two points that I think Sony should improve. First of all: I understand of course that Sony wants to seize the market in America and so most of the units have been shipped there. Europe is now really established PlayStation area, but I simply do not agree with the strategy to let us wait. Retaining existing (satisfied) customers is much more cost effective than recruiting new customers. Anyway, that is (again) not what Sony has chosen and that brings me to the next point: clearer information provision. Many retailers (and subsequently you, the buyers) do not know where they stand because they have no idea when and what number of units they can expect. So chaos everywhere, as we have noticed.
Anyway, I – I think I was the only one in the editorial team – didn’t have a pre-order for the PlayStation 5 yet, because I never thought that was necessary. In addition, keeping an eye on the various news channels for sales data and filtering all the fake news on forums is a sport in itself. So, armed with a fat F5 finger and a lot of cups of coffee, I went through all of the European Amazon sites on the 19th, bearing in mind that I could miss out, just like so many others. However, fate was favorable to me, because on Saturday evening DHL was already at the door with a package. The installation itself went quickly and transferring my account via the PlayStation App was a dream. Luckily I have not (yet) encountered any problem with my unit and I have already finished Astro’s Playroom and played Demon’s Souls for quite a few hours. The launch itself does not deserve a beauty prize, of course, but bottom line, I am very satisfied with the PlayStation 5 so far and I see that the coming time will only get better, provided that Sony will iron out the problems.
I have to say that I have never bought a new console so easily without having direct access to a distributor myself. Well before the official pre-orders were announced, you could pre-book at certain stores. I didn’t trust that myself, because those stores had no idea whether they were going to get consoles and how many there would be. No, especially given the impact of the pandemic, I preferred not to take any risks. At Bol.com I registered to receive an email as soon as the PlayStation 5 was available. Then I kept an eye on when pre-orders probably went live, waited for the message and reserved and paid for the console via the app (during my work). PostNL did the rest. There was a brief moment of fear that it might have been delayed due to the crowds there, but by lunchtime the delivery person was at the door. It was therefore a very smooth experience, something that unfortunately I cannot say about the PlayStation 5 itself.
After smoothly transferring my account and installing the first few games, I quickly ran into problems. For example, I have not been able to do the review of Observer: System Redux (yet), because the game keeps crashing. In fact, the last time it was so bad I had to unplug the power plug to get the console off. So I do not dare to start again. Astro’s Playroom has also crashed repeatedly, but luckily not the console itself. I have installed Demon’s Souls three times and has already disappeared spontaneously from the hard disk twice. I was able to enjoy the splendor for a maximum of 15 minutes. I hear many similar complaints in my area. There is clearly still a lot of work to be done for Sony and I am therefore (un) patiently waiting for a firmware update. Until then, my 6-year-old daughter has claimed the console and if I need an explanation about how Astro’s Playroom works, she says I can ask her.
For the first time in my life I was the first to pre-order an Xbox (Series X). I thought, something different and all those talks from Phil Spencer sounded promising. Towards the launch, the urge to get a PS5 started to itch, but I had no pre-order. Fortunately, I was able to purchase an extra pre-order through a friend, so that I can experience the transition to the next generation with both consoles, because as a multi-platform gamer I want to be able to eat both sides. And in all fairness, neither side was prepared for this. This also applies to the publishers of the games, because cross-gen is just a disaster. On the strongest console, the games just run crappy and the PS5 console just doesn’t feel finished in every way. The majority of the games are actually not next-gen worthy in quality and marketing stories are thrown around left and right about the least attractive next-gen feature for the living room, the 120 fps support.
Next-gen isn’t going smoothly, from the utterly disastrous pre-orders to the sparse game selection. No great shooters, few technical showcases, it’s limited. It’s all so half-baked and that’s a shame. While the Xbox One and PS4 with launch weren’t the strongest machines, there were decent showcase titles like Ryse: Son of Rome, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Battlefield 4 that made the graphics stand out. It’s a bit of a soft launch for now, of which the PS5 genuinely manages to offer the most engaging games. Next year will only really show what the value of the next generation is, for now both machines are long-term investments.