The video gaming media are still recovering from the rush of excitement that came from the launch announcement of the PlayStation 5. Yes, some people think that the console looks like a WiFi router, and yes, we’ve seen prettier controllers than that in the past, but the general reception has been positive.
People are excited about the possibilities of the new hardware, and they can’t wait to get their hands on it when it’s eventually released. There was one small tit-bit of information that mostly got glossed over in all of the hype and hysteria, though, and that’s the fact that there won’t just be one version of the PS5, but two.
Aside from the expected version of the new console, which comes with all of the technical capabilities you’d expect from a next-gen machine in 2020, there’s also a second ‘digital’ edition that comes without a disc tray.
Although pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the new PlayStation, the expectation is that this ‘digital’ console will be cheaper to own than the ‘full’ version of the console, with players having the option to pay a lower price if they’re happy with the idea of downloading all of their games instead of buying them in a box.
As game downloads have been a popular way of acquiring new titles to play for the entire length of time that the PS4 has existed, it’s not thought that this will be a significant barrier to players. The downside is that the device’s hard drive will fill up far more quickly, but that might be resolved by the purchase of more storage space at a later date.
Innovations like this are necessary because we’ve moved onto a new age in video gaming, where digital accessibility is very much en vogue. Google led the way for this new era with the launch of Stadia last year, which is like an online slots website that allows players to play cutting-edge video games rather than online slots.
Just as a player generally doesn’t need to pay to register at online slots categories, and instead only pays for the games they play, Stadia’s ‘free tier’ gives anyone with a screen and an internet connection access to a few games, with further games available at a premium. Given the reduced hardware cost that’s made gaming cheaper than it ever has been in the past, and it’s forced both Sony and Microsoft into making changes.
Now the initial fuss about the new PlayStation and its multiple models has begun to die down, Microsoft has confirmed that they’ll be doing something very similar with the new Xbox Series X – and in the process, they may finally have confirmed what “Project Scarlett” was about for all this time.
For almost a year leading up to the announcement of the new console, “Project Scarlett” was thought to be its name. Now it appears that “Project Scarlett” was actually the plan to release not just one new console, but several.
The main console is known as “Anaconda” under the plan and has a picture of the snake intricately carved onto the motherboard of the device. The first of the ‘alternative’ consoles will be called “Lockhart,” – and it looks like it’s going to be aimed at a different group of players than the digital PS5.
If the leaked documents that have been published online during the past two weeks are correct, the “Lockhart” version of the Xbox Series X will be aimed not at people who are happy to live without a disc tray, but for people who don’t have high-resolution televisions. The ‘main’ new Xbox console will have 4K capabilities.
The (presumably cheaper) “Lockhart” version will be geared more toward people who will be playing games in 1440p or even 1080p resolution. It appears that Microsoft has quite correctly reasoned that not every gamer has a hugely expensive television set to play games on, and so there’s money to be made by catering directly to those gamers at a lower price.
The games won’t look as good, but as the televisions, they’ll be played on wouldn’t have been able to support a 4K mode that shouldn’t hinder the playing experience much, if it all.
Perhaps most excitingly of all, the leaked documents state that there will be several more “Project Scarlett” versions of the new Xbox. It might still be the case that Microsoft intends to launch a disc-free version of the hardware, along with several other ‘adjusted’ models designed to cater to different aspects of the market.
Lower performance modes are also possible. The ‘main’ next-gen Microsoft console comes with 13.5GB of RAM and GPU performance targeted at twelve teraflops. The company could half both of those attributes and still have a machine that can perform as well as the average high-end gaming PC.
In a further move that will take the fight to Sony, Microsoft has already confirmed that the popular “Xbox All Access” scheme will be available for its new consoles. That model allows players to acquire the new hardware, controllers, and a game pass for a monthly fee as opposed to forking out several hundred dollars to purchase the new console outright.
As of the time of writing, Sony is yet to confirm whether it will offer any similar incentives or options to PlayStation gamers. As both consoles are expected to be cheaper to own than their predecessors, though, the price may not turn out to be the ‘be all and end all’ in this particular round of the console wars as it has in the past.
Pricing is no longer the most significant barrier to most committed gamers – accessibility and quality of games are. We already know the names of most of the ‘big’ games we’ll be getting when the new Sony console launches. We’re still waiting for specifics from Microsoft.
Will this make any difference to your purchase plans? Could you cope with a less powerful machine in return for a lower price, or would you want to pay the top price for a cutting-edge next-gen gaming experience?
No matter what your answer to that question is, it’s at least nice to have more options than we’ve ever had in the past. The next generation of consoles is almost here – and it’s arriving as multiple rather than singular models. We suspect that this will be the way of the future.