Games Inbox: Will PS5 undercut the Xbox Series X price?

The Monday Inbox looks at console launch prices through the ages, as one reader gives up on Paper Mario: The Origami King.

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Widening gap
Okay, so now, finally, things are starting to get interesting when it comes to the next gen. Microsoft has been forced into going first, by leaks if nothing else, and they couldn’t have really done better with those prices. Xbox Series S is much cheaper than I would’ve thought with, as far as I’m concerned, no major compromises, while the Xbox Series X is expensive but not stupid expensive and a little less than I was prepared for.

So what happens now with Sony? As many have already said, it’s hard to see how they’re going to be able to match the price of the Xbox Series X as their SSD is faster but more expensive. And I don’t see anyway they can get anywhere close to the Xbox Series S with their All Digital Edition. Not only is the implication that it’s the same console just without a disc drive but they can’t afford to take such a big loss as Microsoft can.

I imagine the PlayStation 5 won’t be any more than £500, which is fine-ish, but the All Digital? I’d be surprise if it was less than £400. So going up against the Xbox Series S at £250 with Game Pass? That is an enormous price difference. For Sony to do well they’ve got to convince people that their exclusives – that people have to pay extra for because there is no PlayStation Pass – are worth paying all that extra for. It’s going to be a tough sell.

Microsoft has been a shambles up to this point, and their first party line-up is the worst, but I don’t see how anyone but the most hardcore gamer doesn’t go for the Xbox next gen, especially given the financial position many are in this year. That means you’re buying the console for the value not the games, but in this case I think the difference is so extreme that Microsoft is going to win it.

The only chance is if Sony undercuts the price of the Xbox Series X, which they could do but that is really going to cost them. If they do they you know the gloves are off and they realise they’ve got a fight on their hands.
The Colt

Jump in
The pricing of the next gen Xboxes has definitely dragged me towards their cliff edge, with the Xbox All Access option being very tempting. I’ll be for physical media as long as it’s available, so my choice of the two would be the Xbox Series X – it can replace my Blu-ray player for one thing. Also, I don’t fancy re-mortgaging my house to pay for the SSD expansion, which I imagine would be more urgent if I bought a Series S.

At first, nearly £700 (£28.99/month) over 2twoyears is eye-watering but then £245 of that is on Game Pass Ultimate. I’m not a total luddite you see: I only had a Switch this gen but am already in the Xbox ecosystem from the previous gens, so Game Pass would actually allow me to catch up with some of the games I missed until some new gen games rock up in 2030.

Imagine what Sony and Microsoft could have accomplished if they’d acted like grown-ups these last few months and announced some real details earlier.
FoximusPrime81 (gamertag/NN ID/Twitter)

Sniper Guys
I hinted the other day that every now and again I go through a gaming malaise, where I’m not really sure I want to play anything from one day to the next. As I said then, trying different genres tends to shake me out of it and reinvigorate my enthusiasm. Another thing I did this week, which also helps, is cutting back on multiplayer games, as I tend to dip into a ‘quick’ game of Rocket League or Wreckfest and then it’s two hours later and it’s one more go…

So I took the nuclear option and deleted Rocket League, my thinking being I’ve probably squeezed every ounce of enjoyment out of that title and it’s become more of a habit than enjoyment lately. So without it there on my desktop, it won’t tempt me back in. And it felt good, bizarrely.

This gives me more time to tackle my backlog of shame, a mixture of games I’ve got full price, ones on digital sales, and free PSN Plus games/SNES games on the Switch. So I started with a game I played for an hour or two when I first got it, sort of liked it but then something more shiny and new came along and so it got relegated to the backlog. I’m talking about Sniper Elite 4.

This time round I made a conscious effort to understand the nuances of the gameplay, upped the difficulty (normally I’m Mr Default Difficulty setting) and was less gung-ho (which to be fair I should’ve been from the off, given the nature of the title – I mean, the clue’s right there!).

And I’m really enjoying it, I can’t believe I gave it such a half-baked attempt when I first got it. Now I’m setting trip wires and booby-trapping dead soldiers like there’s no tomorrow. From now on I’m going to try and be more disciplined and only have one single-player and multiplayer game on the go at any one time, I seem to enjoy my gaming better this way. So it’s the odd couple of Sniper Elite and Fall Guys at chez TruthSoul for the time being.

Single-player games I haven’t scratched the surface of yet, that I also need to make an effort to get to grips with, include the likes of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Divinity: Original Sin 2, and Dead Cells. I may be some time. Send for my orange juice.
TheTruthSoul (PSN ID)

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Elite storage
These (leak induced?) announcements are coming thick and fast from Microsoft. Just the other day, I had nearly made up my mind to get the Xbox Series S for its low price and my indifference to true 4K gaming.

Then a post from the Xbox Hong Kong page pops up – I’m living in HK now – with the localised prices. Under HK$3900 for the Series X, which works out at under £390 at the current exchange rates! I’m guessing it’s to do with the lower taxes here, since the Switch’s official price is also cheaper here.

I think I may just go for the Series X now, at that price, since the 512GB storage in the Series S is worryingly small for a next gen console. (Crazy to think that 10 years ago, I thought the 120GB in Xbox 360 Elite was way more than anyone could possibly use…)
ttfp saylow (gamertag)
Now playing: Ring Fit Adventure and Tell Me Why

Different take
I’ve played about 10 hours of Paper Mario: The Origami King and I’ve given up. The number of random battles that you can’t seem to avoid, or that spring up on you at random, completely ruined the game for me.

What should have been a 12-15 hour game has been artificiality extended to a 25+ hour game simply by the number of battles, which stop being fun after the first few hours.

What’s your take on this?

GC: We really liked it.

Different games
RE: GC and God Of War comparisons. Surely anyone can compare any game to any other game? At least in entertainment value if nothing else? You must do it yourselves to an extent for your end of year top 20, which can end up in a very diverse list of titles. I’m currently playing Fall Guys, which is a brilliant little game and as far removed from God Of War as possible but even then, having played them back to back, I can’t help but compare the two. In a comparison of fun Fall Guys beats God Of War hands down, although to be fair in terms of craft God Of War is obviously better.

Admittedly, Devil May Cry 5 is a very different game to God Of War but I think specifically comparing the combat must be possible? I just expected a little more depth from the battles in God Of War and longed for the versatility that Capcom’s title offered. I believe the Bloodborne comparison is even more relevant though. I’d be very surprised if Bloodborne (or, although I haven’t played it, perhaps Dark Souls with both having shields) wasn’t an important point of reference for God Of War’s reinvention. Fighting the Valkyries in particular very much brought FromSoftware’s game to mind.

The difference in approach to the world’s design between the two games is very important to my mind. Both God Of War and Bloodborne are similar open world games in the sense you can explore in any direction but neither feature massive open spaces like, say, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. The contrast comes from the actual layout of the world. God Of War basically consists of a number of straight point A to B paths, whereas Bloodborne winds these paths around each other, both horizontally and vertically, connecting them up in unexpected and exciting ways.

It’s the same difference as between Metroid Prime 1 and 3. The first Prime title felt like one living breathing world in the way Bloodborne does, whereas the third entry had you flying to separate planets physically separating the game world into fairly straight disparate paths, much the same way the realms do in God Of War. As you may be able to tell I am very much a fan of the Bloodborne/Metroid Prime 1 approach to world design which is why I want to labour the point.

Okay I’ll leave you alone now!
Ryan O’D
PS: For the record I prefer apples, they’re crunchier.

GC: Obviously you can compare any game – we do it all the time – but the combat in God Of War is not as central to the focus of the game as it is in Devil May Cry 5 or even Bloodborne. So God Of War hasn’t failed in some way, as you seemed to imply, by not having combat as complex as Devil May Cry – any more than Devil May Cry 5 has failed by not having storytelling as good as God Of War. They’re different games doing different things.

Belda: Gasp of Nature
GC, just wondering why you haven’t mentioned anything today about Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2, aka Immortal Fenyx Rising? I’m interested to know your thoughts on it.

I personally thought it looked pretty decent but was left in genuinely shock at how unashamedly Ubisoft have copied Nintendo.

Nintendo should just crack on with Breath Of The Wild 3 now, Ubisoft have the sequel sorted.

GC: We mentioned it in passing in our round-up of Ubisoft Forward but we need convincing that there’s any point making a knock-off that’s so distractingly blatant as that.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Retro pricing
The new consoles are almost upon us, it is an exciting time, the advertising and marketing machines are slowly starting to gather momentum.

A lot of the talk right now is about money, what do they cost? What do they cost?!

At time of writing this the PlayStation 5 has yet to be announced and the new Xboxes are £250 and £450, quite competitive from Microsoft.

Which has had me thinking, how do the prices of the new consoles in 2020 compare to previous generations? Are they comparatively expensive? Or an absolute bargain?

So I decided to compile a list, a list of most, but not all, of consoles past.

I have kept to UK launch dates and UK launch prices. It’s as accurate as I could make it, no doubt there will be the odd slight mistake, which you can discuss in the comments.

I have rounded the launch price up, so £199 is listed as £200 for ease of viewing.

I have tried to include just the original price, obviously there are redesigns, bundles, price drops, etc.

The second price next to each console in brackets is the price adjusted for inflation in today’s prices. For this figure I have used the Bank of England inflation calculator.

This has adjusted the price depending on year to 2019 prices, as 2020 prices are not available until their annual consumer price inflation figures are updated in January 2021.

So, enough waffle, on with the list!

1978: Atari 2600 – £200 (£1,156)
1987: Amiga 500 £500 (£1,417)
1987: NES – £200 (£566)
1987: Master System – £100 (£283)
1990: Mega Drive – £190 (£435)
1992: SNES – £150 (£312)
1994: Panasonic 3DO – £600 (£1,202)
1995: Sega Saturn – £400 (£774)
1995: PlayStation – £300 (£581)
1997: N64 – £250 (£458)
1999: Dreamcast – £200 (£349)
2000: PlayStation 2 – £300 (£508)
2002: GameCube – £130 (£213)
2002: Xbox – £300 (£491)
2005: Xbox 360 – £280 (£421)
2006: Wii – £180 (£262)
2007: PlayStation 3 – £425 (£594)
2012: Wii U – £250 (£297)
2013: Xbox One – £430 (£496)
2013: PlayStation 4 – £350 (£404)
2017: Nintendo Switch – £280 (£296)
Rolph (PSN ID)

Inbox also-rans
RE: The relatively low SSD space on the Xbox Series S, is a cloud service (such as a Dropbox equivalent) something Microsoft could offer in the future? If they could figure something out there it would be an extra service they could offer (in upgraded storage tiers). What do you think?

GC: To store it in the cloud and then transfer it onto the console? We don’t think it would be any quicker than just downloading it in the normal fashion. Anything else and you’re basically just streaming it and Microsoft already has xCloud for that.

I have just seen that Disgaea 4 Complete is now available on Steam, which is good news.

I sent away my left Joy-Con to Nintendo for repair because of thumbstick drift. I got my Joy-Con back today with a 12-month warranty. My Joy-Con was nearly three years old and Nintendo charged me nothing for repair.

I’ll tell you what GC, Call Of Duty has got a good price online. If you buy the standard digital version of Cold War it’s £60 but if you buy the Cross-Gen on it’s £65, that’s really good – £5 extra and you get it on PlayStation 4 then you get it on PlayStation 5 at no extra cost, which is a bargain. £5 extra that’s a deal and a half, isn’t it Bruce?

GC: Is this sarcasm? Most games offer that same upgrade for free, it’s the opposite of a bargain.

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader JAH and others, and asks whether you are now considering buying an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S?

What were your opinions on the Xbox Series X prior to this month and how much has that changed with the announcement of the Xbox Series S and the price of both new consoles?

The PlayStation 5 price is likely to be announced on Wednesday, so it may be best to wait until after that to send in your letters. But if Sony does reveal its prices how does that affect your plans for getting a console this year and is this the final information you needed to make your decision?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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