Welcoming the Ninth Generation of Video Games

With the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, there is a new wave of launch day headlines, scalpers and general confusion around the new consoles.

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Walker Winkler

The long awaited release of the ninth generation of consoles has finally arrived, bringing with it an enhanced gaming experience with all new games as well.

On the week of Nov. 9, a new wave of video game consoles hit store shelves, before almost immediately selling out. Microsoft released their new family of consoles, the Xbox Series X, on Nov. 10. For Sony, their new PlayStation 5 console released on Nov. 12. Boasting a plethora of new features and a variety of launch games, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are set for a long and interesting generation of video games. 

Given the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shift to more online pre-orders and purchases. On the PlayStation Blog, Sony announced that all purchases of PlayStation 5 consoles would be exclusively online, only allowing people who pre-ordered the console online the ability to pick one up in stores. Businesses like Best Buy also delayed the in-store sale of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles to 2021. 

With the rise in online-only pre-orders came to the reoccurring issue of websites crashing and selling out of the new consoles only seconds after releasing a new batch. Scalpers, who are people who use computer programs to purchase or pre-order items in mass and then resell the items at higher prices, were a major cause of this issue. On sites like eBay, new PlayStation 5 consoles regularly sell for over $1000, and Xbox Series X consoles are selling for around $850. 

A major selling point to this console generation is the advancement in technological capabilities in lighting and load times. Games on the new consoles are promised to load faster than ever before and present advanced lighting techniques like ray tracing, which simulates actions seen through reflections in objects like windows and puddles, but not seen directly by the players. Another key selling point is the ability for each console to play most games for the previous generation, with the PlayStation 5 playing most PlayStation 4 games and the Xbox Series X playing most Xbox One games as well as Xbox 360 and original Xbox games.

The Xbox Series X released two days before the PlayStation 5, giving players a chance to experience the next generation first on Xbox hardware. The headlining feature from playtesters of the console was Quick Resume, a feature that allows players to have multiple games suspended at the same time, allowing the player to jump between games without needing to fully start up the game. In other terms, a player could be playing MyCareer in “NBA 2K21” one second, and a couple of seconds later they could be playing “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” from the exact point they left off; No fresh booting of games, no reopening save files.

The new game selection for Xbox Series X is scarce but saved by the abundance of older titles playable on the console. The biggest next-generation exclusive at launch was “Yakuza: Like A Dragon,” which is only exclusive to the Xbox Series X until March 2, 2021. Although there was only one exclusive on day one, the Xbox Game Pass subscription service was able to provide over 300 games for paying customers. Sony has a similar service in PlayStation Now, but there is a higher turnover in the games featured on the service and Microsoft prominently features their own intellectual properties on their service, unlike Sony,

After launch, a set of rumors were swirling around online, centered on a faulty Xbox Series X console. The day after launch, Twitter user Arek Adamowicz posted a video of an Xbox Series X with smoke coming out of the top of the console. Once the video circulated for a while, the video was proven as staged by Adamowicz as the result of pouring vape smoke into the fan on the top of the console and starting the console up. This revelation was followed by a tweet from Microsoft, advising consumers to not blow the vapor into an Xbox Series X. 

For the PlayStation 5, people got a chance to check out the accessories for the console nearly two weeks before the console launch. After the console release, players raved about the new DualSense controller, which utilizes haptic feedback and adaptive trigger buttons to further enhance the gameplay experience.

Packed with many exclusive games, the PlayStation 5 is able to provide players with fun experiences for the launch window. “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” “Demon’s Souls” and “Bugsnax” were all headlining games, and “Astro’s Playroom” was able to showcase the new features of the DualSense controller, like having the controller vibrate in different ways depending on the surface a player is walking on in-game, on launch day for free.

Sony also had their own fair share of launch drama, as a Twitter user posted a picture of a display case at Best Buy with an overheating PlayStation 5. Caused by a display case with no ability for hot air to escape, the PlayStation console went into rest mode. This became a headline for consumers to watch and maintain their new consoles and to give a console proper ventilation.

Now that the consoles are out, players are able to see how Quick Resume and haptic feedback can impact the playing experience, and whether it should maintain the standard for future consoles.