Games Inbox: Are cross-gen PS5 games a bad idea?

The Thursday Inbox is still unsure whether Fallout and Elder Scrolls will be Xbox exclusives, as one reader complains about GAME’s Xbox tax.

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Same old thing
I’ve noticed a few people recently feeling that releasing the new generation games on the PlayStation 4 and old Xbox too will hold those games back. I can’t help but feel this is old thinking, going back to old consoles.

The PlayStation 4 is PC hardware with a custom operating system. The PlayStation 5 is a more powerful collection of PC hardware.

I see no reason why all the new generation games won’t run on the old consoles, just with less detailed models, lower resolution, and lower frame rate, with the new console versions performing better.

Maybe I’m cynical but I don’t expect the new consoles to have amazing new types of games and gameplay that were impossible on the current generation.

GC: Sony in particular has been proclaiming that their super-fast SSD (faster than any current PC equivalent) will change the way games are designed, by removing loading limitations. Except apparently Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy A Big Adventure, and Horizon Forbidden West won’t be utilising it in any significant manner, since they can all be replicated on a PlayStation 4. That’s why people are concerned.

Always a chance
Many people seem to presume Microsoft will release Bethesda’s games on other formats, but I believe there’s zero chance of that happening. Xbox doesn’t need short term monetary gains from PlayStation, they want gamers into their ecosystem via Game Pass. Subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, etc. exist because of exclusive content.

Is Hellblade 2 or Avowed coming to PlayStation 5? Then why will the next Doom or Elder Scrolls? Logistically it makes no sense when they already have PC and mobile devices to deliver Game Pass. Microsoft is looking towards a much wider audience than just consoles – which is a niche market when you consider gaming as a whole. Switch on the other hand is a different proposition.

Phil Spencer has obviously side-stepped the question over exclusivity by stating a vague ‘on a case by case basis’. Microsoft can ill afford any bad press prior to a console launch. Whereas Sony can get away with acquiring exclusives, Xbox aren’t afforded that same luxury. As for suggestions Microsoft won’t do it because they want to be the good guys – I find the suggestion ludicrous, it’s business.

Games as a service type games like Elder Scrolls online will likely remain multiformat, but marquee titles like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and Doom will be exclusive to Game Pass. I think it’s quite clear Microsoft’s strategy is a long-term plan.

GC: It’s not ludicrous. The Xbox One’s initial failure was purely because of the negative reaction from fans. Bethesda exclusivity wouldn’t be on that scale but it’s not an issue Microsoft will take lightly, especially given the recent criticism Sony has seen for lesser exclusivity deals. But it’s not an issue that will be relevant for several years, since no new games in any of Bethesda’s established franchises are imminent. We’d fully expect Starfield and other new IP to be exclusive.

Xbox tax
If recent reports are to be believed the GAME retail group has really struggled in recent years. I can understand in order to keep afloat they are looking for other revenue avenues but the £10 Xbox tax they introduced last week is purely exploitative!

They claim the £10 uplift they are charging on all Xbox consoles is to cover postage and packing. While I can to a certain extent understand them not wanting to absorb the cost themselves, the fact they will happily deliver the PlayStation 5 for free and will charge you the £10 fee for an Xbox even if you opt for in-store collection just reeks of greed!

I can only imagine this is either that:

  • The Xbox has smaller profit margin than the PlayStation 5, so they want to seek a profit elsewhere.
  • They are one of only two retailers that are part of the Xbox All Access scheme and wish to exploit this fully, knowing the limited stock will mean desperate consumers will pay whatever they ask no matter what!

I will always look to champion the high street, but I cannot abide with the game they are playing. I was looking to pick up a console on a whim (as I was fortunate enough to add one to my basket) but this quickly snapped me back to reality. I know this will have no bearing to the retailer as (along with everyone else) they sold their entire allocation and I wish no malice but when the console becomes readily available I hope consumers see through their greed and this new policy bites them in the bum!

I know bricks and motor stores have suffered with the advent of online shopping, but they really don’t make things easy for themselves and I imagine this will do them more harm than good in the long run.

GC: Their difficulties aren’t rumours, they’re a matter of public record. That said, it is odd that they’re treating the two consoles differently.

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But a boy
Has anybody had the, er, pleasure of giving the Dragon’s Dogma anime a go on Netflix? While everyone is welcome to form their own opinions, I would advise against it. I doubt it will find any fans.

Trust me, just the first episode managed to make the source material look like Persona 5. I mean, if you put a gun to my head I would have to say that the only storytelling virtue the game had would be the pacing. Because it wasn’t the plot. Or the characters. Or characterisation. Or the lore. Or the world. Or the humour. But hey, it at least got on with it.

In the anime, after a brief nightmare suffered by the main character (an ultra-bland guy whose name I have forgotten and refuse to look up) it then takes the entire episode for the dragon to show up. Compare that to the game’s action-packed prologue and the dragon’s attack on the beach about five minutes into the main game.

And worse still, it looks really bad. Especially the dragon himself, who was much more impressive in a game that’s now close to 10 years old! And it was never the prettiest kid on the block even then.

All the dialogue is atrocious and joyless. Not helped by the delivery of voice actors who were clearly not feeling inspired by the awful script. One particularly bad moment is when some irritating kid the main character has adopted offends some drunken guards and nearly gets into trouble. The protagonist tries to intervene by saying, and allow me to replicate it as best I can with only the written word: ‘He is… BUT A BOY!’

At least the kid gets eaten later by the dragon, in a very satisfying manner. I don’t get why this series exists – Skyrim as a game boasts superior storytelling. Skyrim! It would have made for a better anime, too. Or Divinity. Or Dragon Age. Or Dark Souls…

Trust me on this: Castlevania it sure as hell ain’t.

Too authentic
Just seen on a friend of a friend’s What’s New on PlayStation 4 that they haven’t sorted the difficulty spike on Mafia: Definitive Edition, which was there almost 20 years ago in the original PC version. I had to download a save file to get past said mission 20 years ago, as I was on a keyboard and mouse and that one mission required a steering wheel. I attempted the mission a lot of times before I downloaded the save and one try I nearly completed the mission but failed at the last second.

I can’t believe they have not made that mission easier 20 years later! By downloading the save file I missed out on the cut scene and there was no YouTube at the time to see the cut scene I missed. Spoiler alert: It is
the race car mission.
Andrew J.
PS: Pikuniku is free on Epic Games Store from today at 4pm.

Strange influences
Recently, I’ve been reading a manga called Blame! which started in 1998. I’m about halfway through and refuse to watch the Netflix film until I’ve finished. The reason I bring it up is that with how enigmatic the story is, the grand imposing structures, and the huge array of cyborg monsters, it seems very much like a sci-fi Dark Souls. The artwork is a bit like Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, too. There’s even weird time-dilation stuff going on.

I know that Hidetaka Miyazaki was inspired by Berserk (which is also fantastic) but I wonder if this was also an inspiration. If not, maybe it could serve as inspiration for a sci-fi Dark Souls.
Joseph Dowland
PS: Have you seen the trailer for Transformers Battlegrounds, GC? It looks like Transformers and the XCOM reboot had a baby, which sounds right up your alley.

GC: Yes, we’ll be looking into that. Miyazaki was influenced by a number of things, including Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! books. But we admit, we would like to see him make a sci-fi game in the Dark Souls style. (Or a Transformers game, he did start out on the Armored Core series, after all.)

Learning from experience
Have to ask if Sony never learn. PSP: memory very expensive, system, whilst not a failure, not a massive success. PS Vita: expensive memory, not a great success on the back of it. I’ve owned both and the memory was/is still expensive for the Vita. PlayStation 5: expensive extended memory, will it affect long term sale like the other two examples?

Of course, if they let people make third party compatible hard drives then great and never mind the above. I’ve done literally no fact checking so I could be completely wrong, just going off of the daily Inbox.

GC: You are wrong, yes. It’s the Xbox Series X/S which has a proprietary storage system that is very expensive. Sony has apparently learnt the lessons of the past and you’ll be able to use cheaper third party devices with the PlayStation 5. Also, the PSP is the 10th most successful console of all time, only a few million behind the Xbox 360 and ahead of the 3DS and every pre-Wii Nintendo home console.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

There and back again
My first ever console was the PlayStation 1, from there I moved to PlayStation 2 and after that is when I first joined Xbox with the 360. After that I then upgraded to Xbox One, but now I’ve already got my pre-order for the PlayStation 5. I’ve went through a whole generation of watching Sony release top tier game after top tier game, while this generation I’ve been playing third party games and very average Xbox exclusives like Halo 5 and Sea Of Thieves. My decision is based on the fact that it’s a sure-fire bet that Sony will continue to make the very highest in quality exclusive games, whereas truthfully I’m just not convinced that Microsoft can deliver games of matching quality.

Microsoft may have Game Pass and recently acquired Bethesda, and that may be great for some people, but for me I tend to have the best third party games already purchased before they come to Game Pass. As for the games that will drop day one on Game Pass. As I’ve said before, Microsoft haven’t made a top tier exclusive since the days of the Xbox 360 and I can’t put blind faith in that changing. Of course, getting Bethesda on board is a good move for a lot of people but for me I’ve only ever really enjoyed Skyrim and Fallout 3 from Bethesda.

There’s also the added fact that, should Microsoft start making some amazing looking games, or make the likes of the next Elder Scrolls game a console exclusive. Well I have a pretty beefy PC that can play all those games on PC Game Pass anyway, so I’m not sure what the incentive would be to get an Xbox this generation.

With Sony offering a bunch of PlayStation 4’s greatest hits on their PS Plus Collection for PlayStation 5 I cannot wait to catch up on some of those games I missed.
Carson, Scotland

Inbox also-rans
Will you be reviewing the Mafia remake? I remember playing it when it first came out but would like to know your view on it before I buy it.

GC: We did intend to but 2K were only able to provide a PC copy, which didn’t work with who we were going to get to review it. We’ll see what we can do though.

Will you be covering the Oculus Quest 2 at all? Is there much of an upgrade or if you have Oculus Quest 1 not really worth upgrading? Curious to hear your opinions.
Dan Chambers

GC: Yes, we just got one in for review and should hopefully have an article up soon.

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Penfold, who asks how much do you expect to spend on video games this Christmas?

Given the launch of the new next gen consoles and the difficulties caused by the coronavirus do you expect to spend more or less than usual on games during the next three months? Do you have a specific budget for games and how strict are you about keeping to it?

In general for the year, have you spent more or less on games than usual and how will the next gen affect this? Have you been saving up for the new consoles already or will you continue to save so you can buy them next year?

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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