Oh boy, what a topic this cross-gen thing has become, hasn’t it? On one hand, these next-gen (now current-gen) consoles are sold out almost everywhere, and both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series are well on their way to breaking their own last-gen records despite supply constraints. On the other hand, there’s still a huge majority of consumers who, for one reason or the other, have not made the jump just yet. One can attribute this mostly to the lack of stock from retailers and consequently, scalpers making it tough for actual customers to get one at a reasonable price.
The other reason? Cross-gen games.
Weird? Yeah, I think so too.
Way before the new console generation started, Microsoft have made mention of this – “over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” says Microsoft Studios head Matt Booty. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer himself said that “We won’t force you to upgrade to Xbox Series X at launch to play Xbox exclusives.” Titles like Halo Infinite have been confirmed as a cross-gen release, but there is certainly some confusion for other titles.
Sony, and their now infamous “We believe in generations” quote, have been put back in the spotlight recently over an interview with Hermen Hulst that confirms that the next God of War game and Gran Turismo 7 will also release on the PS4/
“We have always said that we believe in generations. We believe that when you go to all the trouble of creating a next-gen console, that it should include features and benefits that the previous generation does not include. And that, in our view, people should make games that can make the most of those features.
We do believe in generations, and whether it’s the DualSense controller, whether it’s the 3D audio, whether it’s the multiple ways that the SSD can be used… we are thinking that it is time to give the PlayStation community something new, something different, that can really only be enjoyed on PS5.”Jim Ryan, via GamesIndustry.biz
Sony, have fulfilled this to some extent – The DualSense (and 3D audio) provide fantastic experiences when implemented properly like in Returnal, and they have PS5 exclusives like Demon’s Souls, Astro’s Playroom, and soon Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
Some of their biggest titles though, like Horizon Forbidden West and God of War, won’t be exclusive to the PS5, and it seems like the sentiment is that making it compatible with the PS4 will be “holding them back.”
Forbidden West was announced to be cross-gen back in September, and God of War was recently just confirmed to be cross-gen. Let’s not even get started with Gran Turismo 7, but Sony needs to communicate these details better. They may have felt the need to backtrack on some things because of how the whole Covid situation played out over the last year, but I digress.
So, again, have cross-gen games made you think twice about the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series? Do you agree with the “I have no reason to upgrade right away” mentality?
I’m of the opinion that both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series are fantastic plastic machines, each with their own sets of pros and cons, but overall able to deliver transformative experiences that will make going back to your PS4 / Xbox One something you’d never even consider. Personally, the decrease in loading times is such a game changer that it makes the jump worth it on that merit alone. When you couple it with a 60fps experience, along with other console specific features like Quick Resume, these new consoles are certainly worth the upgrade. I place value on a better and faster experience, but of course value is relative depending on who you ask. Are they worth the “above retail” hype? I will always say “no they aren’t”, but that’s another discussion for another time.
Do I believe that the potential of some games can’t be fully realized because of last gen compatibility? To some extent, sure? Maybe? Depends on what the game set out to do in the first place, but let’s also acknowledge how good Miles Morales was, and that was cross-gen but played best on the PS5. I’m fairly confident that Horizon Forbidden West and Halo Infinite, both cross-gen games, will be absolutely mind-blowing when they release, and they’ll play best on the new consoles.
If anything, the pandemic has proven to be quite the monkey wrench, and if things were better supply-wise, maybe some decisions from Microsoft and Sony may have turned out differently. Have cross-gen games made these new consoles less desirable? The fact that the PS5 and Xbox Series are sold out within minutes of a restock says otherwise.
The good thing about all this is that the PS4 and Xbox One generation base won’t be left behind, allowing them to experience some of the best games without having to upgrade. That’s good, right? These players won’t get the benefit of blazing-fast load times and 60fps performance RT modes, but what matters is that they’re given an option to play the game. They’ll surely look less pretty, and may have frame rates that dip to the 20’s and load times that take a minute, but tens of millions will get to play. Could they have just waited until they get to buy the new consoles? Sure, but that’s also potentially a lost sale when you think about it.
The early PS5 and Xbox Series adopters? Enjoy the hell out of the new games, as they’ll play best on the newer hardware. Near-instant loading times? 60-120fps? 4K? Ray Tracing? The experience will be utterly fantastic.
In the immortal words of The Hulk, “I see this as an absolute win.”
So, have cross-gen games made you think twice about the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series? We’d love to hear your thoughts!