The News of Microsoft’s monumental, and historic buyout of ZeniMax/Bethesda, has many on social media wondering what Sony plans to do in order to ‘get back’ at Microsoft for the move.
These fans are likely to wait a long time for such as response from Sony, as it is unlikely that they have the financial strength to acquire such a gigantic publisher, and perhaps more importantly, Sony doesn’t really need to acquire any new studios at this stage.
Sony is sitting in a strong position as far as exclusive titles go. The company’s own in house studios created the highest selling (and rated) exclusive IPs of the current generation (apart from Nintendo of course).
The strength in the sales performance of games like Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us 1, and 2, God of War, Uncharted 4, Spider Man, and Ghost of Tsushima drove the PlayStation 4 to sell 113 million units.
When compared to Xbox One’s 48 million units sold to date, it is easy to see that part of the reason why Microsoft decided to purchase ZeniMax/Bethesda, was to close the gap in exclusive content with Sony. Microsoft has achieved that now.
Sony, however, still has its valuable IPs, and incredible first party studio talents at its disposal. In fact, in the short term at least, they hold the upper hand in upcoming new content, as games like Fallout 5, The Fable Reboot, and Elder Scrolls 6 remain years away from release.
For the moment, previous forecasts that had the PS5 outselling the Xbox Series X at a 2 to 1 rate, need to be revised. Microsoft acquiring Bethesda, and announcing its vast library on Game Pass “free” of charge is a game changer. Still, the PS5 holds the advantage going into this holiday season, and into the next year. So yes, Sony should still be favored in the hardware sales war for the time being.
Sony has Demon Souls, and Spider Man: Miles Morales at Launch, they will have Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War: Ragnarok in 2021. That’s a magnificent lineup of exclusive titles for the company ( barring delays).
Microsoft still needs to reap out the rewards of its purchase, and it seems that at least until 2022, we will not see much in the way of AAA titles from the Bethesda side.
All that said, the future looks bright for the PS5, at least the near future does. The one area where Sony needs to show some concern is in its PS Now subscription service, which was far and away inferior to Xbox’s Game Pass service even before Bethesda joined the fray.
As much as Sony fans want to down play the importance of subscription services, these fans are the very same fans that ten years from now will be subscribed to one of these services, and Microsoft is making a play for them.
How do I know? Because many of the same naysayers downplayed the importance of movie streaming services years ago, and today movie streaming services have replaced physical and digital sales of the medium.
Game Pass like gaming services are the future of gaming, it can’t be stopped. Unless a major global catastrophe affects global internet services, 10 years from now the vast majority of gamers will be subscribed to a game streaming (downloading) service.
Microsoft knows this, and its 7.5 Billion dollar expenditure is chump change compared to what the company is expecting to make on its Game Pass service a decade from now.
Sony should worry and plan accordingly for the longterm. The PS5 should remain the favorite to outsell the Xbox Series X on the upcoming generation, but Microsoft is playing for the long haul, and it is in that area where Sony doesn’t seem to have a concise plan.
Sony has the games to compete, but perhaps the next battle will be about who has the games, and the best subscription service, as opposed to just the games.