What will you play on your new console?
As the release of the next generation of consoles approach, let’s take a look at past launch lineups to keep our expectations in check.
The paintings are almost done. Just a few more touches and we’ll be able to see them clearly. On one side the Xbox Series X and on the other the Playstation 5. Both consoles are far from being blank canvases, we’ve seen the specs, the looks, and some games, but there’s still a few details missing. One of them being the games we’ll get to play on these new systems day 1.
If you are like me and can’t wait to get your hands on one of the new consoles when they release, knowing what you’ll be playing is an important part. Whenever there are talks about what the future of gaming looks like, it’s easy to end up being excited about the new technology since the now old consoles are powerless in comparison.
It may seem like a console’s life cycle is small, 7 years for this latest one, but it’s enough to make us forget what was like when old consoles hit the market and what titles were available. Past launch lineups are the key to understand and have an idea of what this holiday season is going to look like (assuming that the new consoles will indeed be released this year).
How many games do you think were available at launch for this generation of consoles? How about before that?
The Playstation 4, Xbox one and Playstation 3 all had 21 games available at launch. The Xbox 360 had 18 games, and the number goes a little lower at 13 for the Nintendo Switch. Regarding the next generation, these numbers show us that we shouldn’t expect a big selection of new titles, and given the fact that it’s difficult for a game to appeal to everyone, it’s safe to assume that most players will have a hand full of titles that they wanna play, if not less.
The system seller
When a console launch, the company behind it wants a strong start to set the momentum going forward. This is where first/second party titles come in. They are usually big with the sole purpose of drawing attention and boosting sales. Well, of course these games can be great but there’s no doubt that better titles come out as the generation advances.
For the Playstation 4 launch, Sony’s leading titles were Killzone Shadow Fall and Knack. (Surprisingly enough, the game that I played the most was Resogun, offered with playstation plus.) Microsoft, on the other hand, had 3 big titles to lead the Xbox One launch. Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3 and Killer Instinct.
Now for the next generation of consoles, so far, both companies have one big title each to lead their new system. Microsoft is launching Halo Infinite, and giving the success of the franchise, the new game is shaping up to be a huge deal. (This is a particular case, since the game is also coming out on Xbox One and could be the console’s Magnum Opus, which means a really strong launch title.)
Sony is offering a sequel-ish title to a great PS4 game. Marvel’s Spider Man: Miles Morales. This game is supposed to be a “Far Cry New Dawn” type deal, where there’s a lot of similarities to its predecessor but enough new to make it a full game instead of just DLC. This has the potencial to be a big hit, but can it lead the console on its own?
You can always count with third-parties (and indies!)
With the release of a new console there’s a new market that needs filling, a lot of consumers with a new system in need of games to play. This is a landscape that third parties take advantage of. It’s also a great opportunity for indie developers, since more players could be willing to try out their games.
By analysing past launch lineups, more than 60% of the available games are third parties and indies.
An interesting point to take into consideration is that third party companies won’t ignore the last generation, since that’s where the biggest playerbase is. That result in most third party launch titles being cross generational, the only bonus of playing it on a new system is that it runs better and looks better. These games weren’t build from the ground up to use the new console’s power.
Although it may seem like the importance of these games are being downplayed, that’s not the case, sometimes third party titles can drive the console forward and be the system seller, like Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox 360.
Remember your old games?
As a good faith and much needed move, Sony and Microsoft are allowing backwards compatibility in their new consoles. This opportunity maintains the value on current generation games, since something you didn’t play on your PS4 or Xbox One could be played on the next generation in an enhanced and better form.
Replaying some of your classics (that you acquired physically) is definitely a good thing. Knowing that your collection of games didn’t go obsolete helps expands day 1 options. It’s important to remember that Microsoft is being more straightforward in this matter, while Sony mentioned that the top 100 PS4 games were running on PS5 but the plan was to have almost the whole PS4 catalog playable.
Despite the small selection of launch titles, there’s a lot of fun to be had exploring a new console’s capabilities and dreaming of what can and will be done in the future. Being an early adopter of these new consoles could result in not knowing what to play or waiting for the game library to grow, and that’s a risk many (including me) are willing to take.
The important part is knowing what to expect from the PS5 and Xbox Series X at launch, instead of creating a fantasy that would result in disappointment and hate towards the companies and developers. If the consoles are launching later this year it shouldn’t take long before we can look at the whole picture.