Hello and welcome to another edition of Clash at the Stash, a new staff collaboration series from those of us here at The Nerd Stash. Clash at the Stash pits two of our writers against each other over hotly-debated need culture topics that have been going on for days-decades.
Ah, Playstation Games vs. Xbox Games. It’s an argument as old as time. Well, really as old as online message boards. I’ve been to such message boards and I learned two things. First, there can only be one ruler of consoles and it’s impossible for people to enjoy both platforms. And lastly, it turns out that a few people in these message boards know my mom and claim to be my dad.
Today, we hope to give a definitive answer to this argument. Just to clarify, I mean we’re going to debate over which console has better games. We’re not debating over my biological father. That would be really weird.
If you didn’t read our first-ever Clash at the Stash that featured the Mario Franchise vs. the Zelda Franchise, here’s how this whole thing works. Two writers have 500-1,000 words to state their case for their respective side. They can advocate for their side with facts, personal stories, or they can even attack their opponent’s topic. All that matters is what they say and how entertaining they are.
After all the smoke has cleared and the writers are allowed to step back into the Sun, I’ll direct you to our three judges of the Clash (other writers on our staff), who’ll give out their final verdicts.
In the corner of Master Chief, Marcus Fenix, Kait Diaz, and McLarens, we have Oliver VanDerVoort. Oliver is coming into this contest at 0-0 with 7 consoles played and over 40 hours into The Witcher 3. And in the corner of Kratos, Ellie, and now Norman Reedus (who’s always shirtless in these Death Stranding trailers for some reason), we have Shelby Royal. Shelby is coming in at 0-0 as well with 6 consoles played and over 120 hours in the Persona series.
With this most recent generation, it seems that Oliver and the Xbox brand are the underdogs in this bout. Since I have a soft spot for underdogs, except for Rudy (screw that movie), we’re going to start with PlayStation games. So, Shelby, start whenever you’re ready:
Nintendo aside, some of my earliest gaming memories come from gaming on the PlayStation. The sounds of my childhood are Croc yelling ker-splat or the sounds of boxing crashing and picking up Wumpa Fruit in Crash Bandicoot. So, to be completely honest, my love and adoration for PlayStation and their exclusives start at a very early age. And, yeah, I guess you could say I was a little biased. But for good reason! The barren desert that is Xbox exclusives today should already tell you why PlayStation is on top, but I’m going to go a little deeper than that. So, here we go!
Let’s start by looking at some numbers (I know, I know. I hate them too.) Just last year, in 2018, the list of PlayStation releases dwarfs Xbox releases, but we will focus on big, exclusive titles for this argument. It will come as little surprise that PlayStation basically doubled the exclusives released than Xbox. And they were important ones at that. Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Spider-Man, Moss, and Shadow of the Colossus somewhat overshadowed Xbox’s releases of State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 4. While Xbox may have the beefier system specs-wise, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t have anything to play on it.
Numbers aside, when you look at the complex and varied narratives that PlayStation exclusives have to offer, it’s hard to ignore that they are better than the rest. Whether searching for lost treasure in the Uncharted series, wrangling robotic dinosaurs in Horizon Zero Dawn, swinging through the Manhattan skyline in Spider-Man, or taking down the great gods of Greek and Norse mythology in God of War, you could play PlayStation exclusives back to back without having a similar experience. And in that same vein, with the breadth and variety within PlayStation exclusives, it’s much more welcoming and inviting to gamers of all types.
Even more importantly, PlayStation has stayed relevant and progressive with their exclusives. While Xbox is looking at releases for their sixth Halo game and fifth Gears of War, PlayStation is looking forward to new IPs, like Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima, and further developing one of their beloved series with The Last of Us 2. One of the greatest things about PlayStation exclusives is that they don’t overstay their welcome. Sure, Naughty Dog could continue to crank out Uncharted games, but why? Nathan Drake’s adventures have a satisfying end, and all of the games are great. PlayStation’s developers aren’t afraid to end a series or change dynamics to continue bringing fresh and new content to their players.
I couldn’t write this article without highlighting how important some Xbox exclusives have been to the development of gaming and to the community as a whole. Without games like Halo and Gears of War, some of my favorite PlayStation exclusives wouldn’t exist. But, what sets PlayStation apart and ahead of Xbox is the fact that they continue to push the envelope with new and exciting exclusives. Their exclusives are so powerful because they are narratives that deal with a multitude of topics and issues with characters that are relatable and likable.
Who doesn’t understand what it’s like to be on the outside looking in like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn? Or who hasn’t had to struggle with battling demons of the past like Kratos from God of War? Or who hasn’t struggled with letting a dream die like Nathan Drake? Or grieving the loss of a loved one like Joel from The Last of Us? PlayStation exclusives are more than just video games that are constantly pushing the envelope; they are a catalyst through which we can learn something new about ourselves.
You can take your God of War and your Spider-Man exclusives and certainly make a good argument for why people prefer the PS4. They would have been right to pick the PlayStation 4 a couple of years ago, but Microsoft has managed to find itself a secret weapon.
The Xbox Game Pass has changed the game completely. The funny thing is, it seems as though this was a kind of a response to PlayStation Now but they just managed to do things so much better. The goal was always to get games on this generation of consoles that couldn’t be played in the traditional way.
Both Sony and Microsoft managed to do that. But then Microsoft realized they could do so much more. They didn’t force people to stream titles as PS Now does. And they realized that if they offered current generation games, and even games that weren’t offered on another console, or what would have been offered on a console at all, they could win the day.
Game Pass was a small endeavor when it was first launched, but it’s grown into the juggernaut of the gaming community. It’s only gotten better now that it’s expanded to PC. Games like Creature in the Well or Gonner may not be true Xbox Exclusives since they’re also available on PC, but when talking about the two consoles in this war, only one allows you to play them.
Now let’s talk about titles like Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, and Crackdown 3. Those might not be standing up to The Last of Us 2 all on their own but they have something TLOU isn’t going to able to offer. They offer the ability for players to get a $60 game without any additional costs out of pocket.
Yes, there’s the $16 per month price tag, which is among the highest of the subscription services, but it offers so much content! It’s no wonder the only service that is comparable is Netflix. Games are added all the time and the games that are getting added are ones people are lining up to play.
There are literally hundreds of dollars of content and hundreds of hours as well. It seems damn near impossible that you could ever play through everything Game Pass has to offer. The good news is it appears when it comes to most of the really popular and really good games, you’re going to have the chance.
Without a doubt, you’re going to claim this is a copout because some of the games offered in Game Pass are not exclusive and can even be found on the PS4. To this I say, you need to look at the whole picture.
For starters, Game Pass is a console exclusive that Sony would be hard-pressed to come close to duplicating. In fact, this particular service is one that the other console providers are likely kicking themselves when it comes to not thinking of it first.
Microsoft is in a unique position in that regard because they can more easily adapt and adopt PC titles. When you consider that gamers have to pay $9.99 per month to get PS+, which allows them two free games and to play online, the $16 price tag for Game Pass is a steal. When you consider that all Xbox Exclusives will be coming to Game Pass for no additional charge to members, it’s a home run. That’s why the Xbox One has won this battle, even if you can claim it’s on a technicality. TKO’s still down in the record books as a victory.
As expected, Shelby focused on PlayStation’s recent hits. Oliver, on the other hand, went heavy on the excellent subscription service known as Xbox Game Pass. Which, may end up working well in his favor. Let’s see what our judges thought:
Jordan Zolan – When I was a kid, the news of an upcoming game would excite me. I would read about it in Nintendo Power, and go to my local Toys R’ Us to play a demo. The anticipation and excitement would build as the release date drew closer. As I grew up, that feeling faded. I would hear about new games and be curious, but that childlike awe and wonderment faded. I missed that feeling.
The PlayStation 4 has done something that I didn’t think possible. It made me excited about gaming again. Reading about The Last of Us 2 and getting sneak peeks of Horizon Zero Dawn brought back those same moments of wonder I had as a kid. HZD ended up being an incredible game, one I am still obsessed with. The Xbox One never inspired that feeling in me.
Shelby said it brilliantly. What’s the point of a powerful system if you have no games to play on it. Game Pass is indeed a great idea, but if I don’t care if I play any of the games, it doesn’t really matter. PlayStation exclusives win in my mind. I do, however, caution Sony. Don’t get complacent. You’ve lost your way before. Keep making great games and never stop believing in the power of storytelling.
Callum Jones – Excellent points from both sides here. Without a doubt, PlayStation has had the upper hand when it comes to exclusive titles they have tuned out this generation. Some of my best gaming memories these past 5 years have been fighting robot dinosaurs in Horizon Zero Dawn, and the epic adventure of Kratos and Atreus in God of War. Sony does focus on single-player narrative games though. If you want to play a multiplayer game with friends PlayStation is not the place to be. Xbox has been killing it in this department. Titles such as Sea of Thieves launched in an unfinished state, and today it is in a much greater place and with Game Pass is easy to get into.
However, PlayStation takes the win for me here. Their storytelling within games has been excellent this generation, and many of these games are amongst my favorite of all time. Xbox is slowly bouncing back with the acquisition of new studios in the past year, but we probably won’t see results from that until the next round.
Steve Bennett – Some good arguments from both sides there, however, we are judging this on exclusive titles and that means games. Xbox’s Game Pass is fantastic, but let’s not forget that you still need to fork out on Xbox live should you wish to play online. Plus, it may be exclusive for now, but it will most likely be available in some form on the Switch, so that’s that argument out of the window. PlayStation wins because of the games, you can’t find Bloodborne, Uncharted, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, The Last of Us or Yakuza on the Xbox. That alone is enough for me.
At the end of the day, there’s fun to be had with great games on both consoles, which is great for us gamers. But for me, in terms of exclusives, it’s a W for Sony.
Winner: PlayStation Exclusives and Shelby Royal
After the matchup, I was able to get a short interview with our winner and you can see the transcript down below:
Taylor Cole – Shelby, you’re now 1-0 in this prestigious series, joining Johnny Reynolds as the only other victor. In December, we’re planning to crown our first ever Clash at the Stash champion. Do you think this performance was good enough to get a spot in the event?
Shelby Royal – “I mean, all my PlayStation exclusives are victory enough for me, but what an honor to be considered for such a prestigious award! As Nathan Drake would say, ‘Greatness from small beginnings,’ so maybe this piece is just the thing to boost me to the top!”
Which platform do you think has/had better exclusives? What do you want to see us debate over next? Let us know in the comments below!