It is an unwritten rule that every single console generation must have its war, whatever some might say. Usually, Nintendo sits out these conflicts and pitches its hardware more in the “viable second console” category, but Sony and Microsoft have been at loggerheads since the original Xbox went up against the PlayStation 2 back in the 2000s. The next generation is set to repeat this pattern, with Sony’s PlayStation 5 battling for supremacy with Microsoft’s Xbox Scarlett. This time, though, a new contender has made itself known: Google Stadia, the streaming platform aiming to stream its games in 4K.
Which one of these consoles wins is a matter for the future, but we think we can make some educated guesses as to the areas in which each of these pieces of hardware is likely to excel. They all definitely have different strengths and weaknesses, even before any of them have actually been released. Which of them you buy will largely depend on whether the particular weaknesses and strengths of these consoles appeal to you directly. Without further ado, let’s get started. Here’s who we think will win between PS5, Xbox Scarlett, and Google Stadia.
This one’s a close race between Sony and Microsoft. In an interview with Wired, lead PS5 architect Mark Cerny said the console would have a custom Radeon Navi GPU. Xbox Scarlett is set to use similar architecture, with a custom AMD Navi-based GPU powering the machine.
Google Stadia wants to revolutionize console gaming by allowing users to stream games, thus removing the need for dedicated hardware. The streaming happens hypothetically in 4K and 60FPS. Whether Google can achieve this depends on your connection, though, so this one goes to Microsoft and Sony.
WINNER: PS5 and Xbox Scarlett (tie)
Microsoft and Google haven’t really made any specific pledges in terms of the audio capabilities of their consoles-slash-gaming-services. Sony, on the other hand, has explicitly stated that the PS5 is going to have an emphasis on audio. In the above mentioned Wired interview, Mark Cerny said the console would boast a custom chip for 3D audio. Cerny hopes this will revolutionize what’s possible from simple TV speakers (you won’t need a home stereo system or soundbar to take advantage of this capability). This one goes to Sony.
Both Microsoft and Sony have said their consoles will have SSDs in them which will dramatically reduce loading times and improve draw distances. This is a bold promise, and it’s probable that both companies will deliver on those promises. It’s hard not to think that Google has a clear lead in this field, though.
Stadia will run entirely on Google’s servers, so it won’t need dedicated hardware to provide peak performance for its games. Everything it does will be effortlessly handled by external hardware, so it’s difficult to imagine PS5 and Xbox Scarlett beating it for performance quality.
WINNER: Google Stadia
Most people would say that the most important aspect of any console is its games, and they’d be right. We’ll be glued to sites like Gamerbolt when these consoles land so we can see what’s coming for them. On this front, unfortunately, Sony has Microsoft beat, or at least it does theoretically.
While franchises like Halo and Gears of War prove that Microsoft isn’t completely done when it comes to exclusive, Sony’s console has a laundry list of excellent games that it alone can boast. The Last of Us, God of War, Uncharted, Spider-Man…the list goes on and on. It’s difficult to think that Microsoft (or Google, for that matter) could come with anything to top Sony’s list of properties.
This might be a slightly unfair way to judge Google’s service since this is the company’s first foray into gaming. Still, it’s worth knowing which platform provides the best way to experience old-school games, as we shouldn’t simply consign them to the dustbin of history.
Sony has said that the PS5 will be able to play everything on the PS4, but Microsoft wins this round since the Xbox Scarlett will be able to play literally everything on Xbox One, including 360 and OG Xbox games. Xbox One already has a better backward compatible library, so Xbox Scarlett wins here.
WINNER: Xbox Scarlett
Right now, Google says it has “no news” about the possibility of VR streaming on its console. That means we can’t rule out a VR strategy, but it also means Google isn’t actively wanting to promote one. Microsoft isn’t doing so great on the VR front; the Xbox One doesn’t have many options when it comes to VR, so if they’re going to compete in this console war they will need to come up with a solution. Sony says the PS5 will support PSVR, so as the only gaming company with a viable VR strategy going forward, they’re the winners in this category.
Here’s the good news about Google Stadia: it will support any controller that’s USB or Bluetooth-enabled. That includes your DualShock 4 and your Xbox One controller. Naturally, the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett will only be compatible with their own controllers. There’s no word yet on what the controllers will look like, but Sony and Microsoft have iterated only slightly on their peripherals since the Xbox 360 and PS3 days.
We’re betting on Xbox for this one, just because we much preferred the shape of the Xbox One controller to the DualShock 4.
WINNER: Google Stadia / Xbox Scarlett (tie)
We hope you’ve found this analysis of who will win the next console war informative and helpful. Obviously, there can be no clear and straightforward winner; which one of them “wins” depends entirely on your personal preferences. Still, we hope we’ve illuminated some of their key differences and helped you in your potential future buying decisions!