What will come of PS5 and Xbox Series X? With both next-gen consoles – and their cheaper, diskless counterparts – hitting the market, with the wave of hype we’ve all expected, the question on our lips is what will be different in the long run.
What will Sony and Microsoft do differently compared to previous generations? Are we entering a time where the rise of cross-platform gaming and hardware agnostic platforms is finally ending the old ‘console wars’? ?
We sat down with Rishi Chadha, UK Game Director for Twitter, to discuss how these releases had varied from previous consoles, and how conversations around and between these console makers were signaling a shift for both platforms.
Chadha works in the middle of the gaming ecosystem on Twitter, working with publishers like Epic Games or Activision Blizzard to ensure they can grow and engage with their audiences effectively on the social media platform.
So what does the presence of Xbox or PlayStation on social media say about the future of gaming? This is what we learned.
One of the key things Chadha tells me is how differently the PlayStation and Xbox platforms have engaged with their audiences for these console releases, with the former seemingly happier keeping things under wraps and letting the hype build on their silence.
“PlayStation has had a kind of simmering conversation that has been going on throughout the year, with massive spikes during their reveal events,” says Chada. “So the one in June, and then the one they had in September, after which there was another big rebound. But everything else was simmering.
“In the meantime, if you look at Xbox, they’ve actually had a much more volatile conversation, in the sense that there are big spikes in the conversation, whether it’s around the game shows they’ve done or the refrigerator giveaway. And also with the launch, it has been much more based on announcements, events and content, while PlayStation has really focused on key events that have happened throughout the year. “
That’s something that’s easier to do after the huge success of the PS4, of course, and it was clear early on that Microsoft was going to catch up with its next-gen Xbox consoles.
But Chadha adds that there is also a strong similarity between the Xbox Series X and PS5 discourse, as platforms, studios, and fans alike are heavily engaged in conversations on both consoles via social media:
“What I really like to see happen now is that it’s not an Xbox versus PlayStation type of conversation, it’s more like ‘these are different consoles that do different things.’ And, you know, we can celebrate both consoles. We are excited about what each console does. And I think one of the things that has been unanimously celebrated for both consoles has been things like load time and the way each console is so much faster now. I think that has been something that has also applied to both.
“And this is a bit healthy, but I love the way the brand accounts relate to each other, congratulate each other on launch day and talk about it, as if that was something we never expected to see. I always thought a lot, ‘the two are separated’. So seeing them interact with each other now and having that kind of supportive feedback on the platform is really cool. “
But is this collaborative discourse of posting, commenting, and sharing going to change the way platforms actually work together, manifesting the future through tweets?
Maybe not, but Chada suggests that the gradual rise of cross-platform gaming, facilitated by the increasingly PC-like architectures of today’s flagship gaming machines, is changing the conversation around gaming.
“Now we are moving into a world where the idea and concept of multiplatform gaming is real from the beginning,” says Chadha. “So I think the hype that people normally have, due to a lot of first-party exclusives, has changed a bit, so now the same conversation can include both platforms more easily. There are certain games, obviously, like Spider Man: Miles Morales and things like that, where Sony corners the hyper around that game specifically. But I think those are some of the changes that we are seeing right now. “
It’s a nice change from the usual narrative of social media echo chambers, channeling users to increasingly harsh and exclusionary positions. But is this really happening?
A big difference may simply be that social media was still in its infancy when the last generation of consoles appeared in 2013, and it’s hard to make comparisons when the underlying mechanics of public discourse have changed so much in the last decade.
However, one thing is clear: gaming platforms are changing from what they were, moving to more hardware agonistic services than those that can be transmitted to a wide range of devices, such as with xCloud or Google Stadia, or even the initiative Microsoft’s long-running Play Anywhere. ensuring that gamers can access their same titles on both Xbox and PC.
“We’re seeing more cross-platform games,” says Chadha, “so people can be on multiple platforms, whether it’s PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and play together more easily. I think that will continue to evolve and mature. And we will see the evolution of game streaming, either with Microsoft or with Google Stadia.
“I think those are some of the great areas. And I also think that the ability to play your games on mobile devices will continue to be a very growth area. Because, let’s face it, not everyone can afford to buy a new console or PC, but the mobile is something much more accessible to everyone. So how games can be ported, or how they can be played on mobile devices, will be a very interesting area in the very near future. “
With Destiny 2 now confirmed to have cross-platform play in 2021 for current and next-gen consoles, and a surge in titles like Among Us and Fortnite that ignore traditional cross-platform boundaries, there is certainly evidence that this is already happening, and at the same time. At the end of this console life cycle, probably seven or eight years from now, we could be playing in an almost unrecognizable ecosystem in terms of how it allows gamers to play together, regardless of the machines they are using to do so.