In terms of the gaming console market, Sony’s PlayStation brand is undoubtedly the de facto leader. Ever since its debut in 1994 with the launch of the original PlayStation, the company has led most of the way with record-breaking sales that topple over the competition that includes the likes of SEGA, Nintendo, and Microsoft. This perpetuated success has been the status quo for the past 26 years.

Now, Its 2020 and the latest iteration of the console known as the PlayStation 5, and it's competitor the Xbox Series X from Microsoft have already been revealed ahead of launch this holiday season. So far, after lengthy reveals of games and features from both sides, the current deliberation points to the idea that nothing would change.

However, that wasn’t the case a few months ago.

Shifting tides ahead

Before the reveal of the PS5, Sony had appeared to be in a bind. Their competition, Microsoft had taken the initiative this generation; dropping a surprise trailer in late 2019 that revealed the XBSX’s official design and regurgitated its ridiculous performance. The announcement came out of nowhere and appeared to knock the wind out of the PlayStation brand’s sails.

A few months later, Microsoft provided a trailer reel of the upcoming XBSX titles during their Inside Xbox May event showcasing 13 enticing titles that further drove the point home. Meanwhile, Sony seemed to struggle with getting their own presentation for the PS5 off the ground before the year was out.

Around this time, rumors flew around about the console having issues with its cooling system’s design which was being used to justify the constant delays.

Everything seemed stacked in Microsoft’s favor as the company prepared to leave its competitor Sony in the dust this upcoming generation. Many began drawing up conclusions that a paradigm shift was about to occur this generation; shuffling the two brands’ positions around similar to what happened between Nintendo and Sony a few generations ago.

Then, merely a week ago, the PS5 Reveal event happened and everything was set right.

Or so Microsoft thought

To put it quite simply, Sony’s presentation literally eclipsed Microsoft’s presentation twice over and exposed a lingering problem with its competitor: content.

One of the biggest talking points that started once the Xbox Inside event ended was how underwhelming the content was.

Sure, there were plenty of games revealed in the trailers but little gameplay came out of them due to most of them being cinematically conveying. This was made more apparent the moment Sony took its turn to reveal the PS5 and its games to the world.

Sony’s presentation featured 26 games--not counting ‘GTA V: Enhanced Edition’ for obvious reasons--on display and 85 percent of those trailers featured actual gameplay. Additionally, Sony’s event even eclipsed the reveal of the XBSX console itself by revealing two iterations of the PS5 console; a standard model and a digital (diskless) one. Although no pricing was revealed, it’s fair to say that the digital model will be cheaper than the standard one, an option that could prove beneficial to consumers in this trying economy.

Of course, naysayers would point out that it’s still too soon to walk Sony back to its iron throne, touting that Microsoft still has the leg up with its console, and they might be right. The device’s graphical power output of 12 teraflops versus the PS5 and its 10 teraflops won’t be ignored. Then there’s Project xCloud, a service that utilizes cloud processing to provide the console with an extra graphical kick even though it might not need it, to begin with.

What’s more, the XBSX also has genuine backward compatibility that encompasses up to 3 generations of Xbox gaming while the PS5 console’s feature seems limited to the previous generation. Despite these advantages, however, the status quo that has kept Sony ahead of the competition all these years might not change.

The truth is these advantages are all part of the same song and dance that Microsoft has sold to people over the years and still hasn’t changed anything.

Looking back, this all becomes unbearably clear. Better hardware didn’t stop the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 from outselling the Xbox and Xbox 360 respectively. And having backward compatibility didn’t even slow down the PlayStation 4 in its current generation. In fact, the current PlayStation outsold the Xbox One more than twice over mostly due to Microsoft’s around that time. This is all because Sony had maintained a surplus of exclusive IPs over the years.

It’s all about exclusives

Sony is doing more right with its catalog than Microsoft in comparison.

Over the years, the former’s studios have drummed up an overwhelming amount of popular IPs for their consoles that feel genuinely exclusive to the brand and the PS5 reveal reaffirms that. Microsoft’s IPs on the other hand, feel limited in number these days, especially now that several of them have become available on other platforms like the PC and even the Nintendo Switch.

What’s more, Microsoft has given its developers an extra year to develop upcoming IPs for the XBSX and could also lose their console exclusivity in the near future. It’s this dichotomy that keeps Sony ahead of Microsoft in the console market no matter what advantages the latter has each generation.

For Microsoft to overthrow Sony this generation, the company would have to deliver on actual exclusives from their studios on top of the pre-existing ones.

But that doesn’t seem to be the direction the company is taking. For now, anyway, it simply means Sony could very well have another generation in the bag after all.

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