Last week the bullet was finally through the church: I bought an Xbox. Not very exciting, but it is my very first Xbox ever. I’ve always been at camp PlayStation and it was therefore a fresh experience to be able to enjoy the green camp for once.
I’ve never had anything against Xbox. I think the whole console war is the stupidest thing there is. The only reason I’ve had all the PlayStations and no Xbox has anything to do with Xbox itself.
It all started with the PS2, which was wildly popular. Experiences with my great cousin made me have to have one too. For my birthday I requested a PS2 from my single mother. Poor baby didn’t realize it was the 2nd PlayStation and accidentally bought a PS1. Well brought up, I just played on the PS1 for a year. The next birthday my mother came with her redemption.
Once you’re at a camp, it’s just hard to switch. The choice to buy the PS3 was more determined by my circle of friends who also played on PlayStation. But with a PS1 and PS2 behind us, the choice was quickly made. For the same reason, I’ve never really considered an Xbox.
I played on the 360 with a classmate on a regular basis. Clear away hordes in Gears of War or build crazy racetracks late into the night in Halo. I’ve been nibbling on the Xbox side quite a bit this way, never feeling like I was missing out on anything on PlayStation.
Xbox Series X
That all changed with the Series X. Microsoft’s superior software and hardware support combined with Game Pass was incredibly attractive. For the first time in my “gaming career” I considered a switch. Yet I went for PS5 because: cool exclusives, a whole friends list and the possession of 50+ digital games in the PS Store. On top of that, the Series X just had little to offer at launch in terms of games, let’s face it.
Over the past year, Microsoft has improved that well. The historic purchases of Actiblizzard and Bethesda paint a bright future for the console. More and more games came to Game Pass and that made me itch. That itching became too much for me in recent weeks when a Series X was available at a webshop. It was time to expand. A week later I gained the necessary first experiences and the difference between the two consoles is actually not very special. What is striking is the gaming experience that Game Pass entails and that is not always positive.
Obviously you will be the first to download games on your new Xbox. After all, you have 400+ games at your feet. A bit of Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, a few indies like Unpacking or The Pedestrian. Before Forza Horizon 5 is even installed there are 19 other games in the queue, great!
However, is it really that great? Where do I begin? On PS5 I have made an agreement with myself to play 1 game at a time, at most a multiplayer game “on the side”. I made this rule to have more focus on games. In the past, I always found myself failing to finish games if I played several at once. The focus was divided over several games, so that I lost the common thread and was no longer “in the game”.
How are 20 new games going to help with this? Actually nothing. “But Ruan, you don’t have to check them all.” Yes I know. But it’s so tempting to try out all those games. Games you’ve always wanted to check out are now ready to be played one by one. However, I have not played any game focused due to the large selection.
That becomes even more difficult with Quick Resume. One of the Series X’s biggest gimmicks, but a gimmick that works. With Quick Resume you can put about 7 games on standby and start them up in seconds. This makes it much easier to switch games, since there are 6 on standby that can be started immediately without real loading times. Switching is very easy, maybe even a little too easy.
Of course you can already imagine why. If you have 20 games installed and can also easily switch between those games, you lose focus quite a bit. I find that I am much more fickle on Xbox. “Just do a few races in Forza, then maybe continue with Psychonauts 2.” It’s terrible, the opposite of what’s happening on PS5. That’s where I buy my games and play them. And it is precisely the “buying” that has a greater impact in my opinion.
Renting Games vs. Buying
There is a certain effect that I experience when I don’t buy games but receive them for free. Be it PS Plus games or Game Pass games. Because I didn’t spend my well-deserved money on it, I’m less serious about it. It’s more “checking” than “diving in”. Would I have played Forza Horizon 5 as randomly, in short sessions, as if I had spent $60 on it? There is only one way to find out and that will almost never happen.
I’m not a collector of physical games, so that argument doesn’t hold up. But I can’t think of a reason to buy a game separately if it’s on Game Pass. There’s a kind of bond you make with the game you buy. You made a conscious choice to start this game, so your whole mindset is tuned to it. That’s a stark difference from the shop-till-you-drop effect you get when you browse the Game Pass catalog.
The Xbox and its Game Pass snack wall have brought me closer to games that I normally might never play. Think Psychonauts 2. He seemed interesting, but would I pay full price for it? I now also come into contact with unknown indies and that is very cool.
The question is whether it has a positive effect on how I deal with games. By playing everything at once you are essentially playing nothing. I’ve installed 20 games and haven’t even played all the games yet. Still, I’m poking around the Game Pass list again to see what else I can download. That is actually too crazy for words. So I understand somewhere that Sony thinks that bringing exclusives to PS Plus on day 1 devalues their games. Are they in it for money in the end? Absolute. I am therefore hesitant with the new PS Plus. The Xbox has already become a snack machine where I regularly play great games, but if I go for a focused experience, I find myself restarting the PlayStation.
Well, maybe it’s still the honeymoon phase and I’ll get my focus back later. One thing is great. With the superfluous luxury of a Switch, PS5 and a Series X, I can now be excited for every possible announcement. In addition, I don’t have to get Xbox games, they will come on Game Pass, for better or for worse.