Games Inbox: Is PS5 only for the rich?

It’s not a cheap hobby (pic: Sony)

The Thursday letters page continues its debate over the merits of Xbox Game Pass, as one reader tries to explain G-Fuel Mighty Poo.

PLEASE NOTE: We’re currently preparing our content for over Christmas and the New Year, which will include several Reader’s Features. So if you have an idea for an article you want to write about any gaming related subject you like, now would be a great time to submit it, at the email address below.

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High rollers
It’s common knowledge that free-to-play games make the majority of their income from the small percentage of ‘whales’, players who spend a considerable amount on in-game purchases whilst the majority of the userbase never spends a penny.

With Sony looking to launch expensive kit in their PS5 Pro, new virtual reality set-up, and now a £200+ controller, I wonder if they are looking at a similar model? Ignore the core audience who only want the base PlayStation 5 and games, whilst squeezing as much as they can from their whale audience?

Probably not but in the current world I can’t see many takers for any of this stuff.
Mike T
Currently playing: Marvel Snap (for free)

Near miss
I was close to ordering an Xbox Series S when it was down to £189 during Black Friday. It was an amazing deal and yet I just couldn’t do it. Yes, Game Pass is a good deal as well, but there’s no point in it if there’s nothing worth playing on it. There’s nothing on Xbox that rivals the exclusive big hitters on PlayStation – where’s their answer to Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, or God of War?

It’s the exclusives that sell consoles and all Xbox has are Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon, and Flight Simulator. Decent games, but hardly system sellers, not to mention how long they’ve actually been out. Microsoft has been in the industry for a couple of decades now, how has it not implemented this?

I haven’t bought a PlayStation 5 yet because I see no need, most of the top tier games are available on PlayStation 4 as well, but that will change next Xmas when Spider-Man 2 comes out – that will be a huge system seller And Xbox will be dead in the water, Starfield or no Starfield.
Rangersingh (PSN ID)

GC: Elden Ring is multiformat.

The Netflix of gaming
It’s been interesting reading all the GameCentral community’s thoughts on Game Pass, to which I’ll now add my own. I switched to Xbox for the first time this generation because I could clearly see how great value Game Pass was. Generally, I haven’t been disappointed in what it offers and have had the opportunity to play a large amount of great games I just never would have otherwise. When I look at PlayStation and the games they’ve published I’ve no regrets as there’s genuinely nothing I’m particularly interested in.

My own issue with Game Pass is the long term damage it’s having on the gaming world, in a similar way that Netflix has (in my view) destroyed movie making. My major worry is that the more algorithmic data Xbox accumulates, the less likely the types of games I love will be made. I think we’re already seeing the major games become more homogenous. Specific formulas seem to work to the point that I can’t remember the last triple-A game I gave a fig about.

Added to all this is the spectrum of price rises that are clearly going to happen. Currently the price of Game Pass is undeniably great. Will it be in two years’ time? I very much doubt it. But at that point what else will gamers have? The outlook just seems so bleak.

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Good and bad
Given the recent letters on Game Pass, as we approach the end of the year, it’s made me reflect on how good the year has been for games, and I have to say it’s an odd one.

A few such as Tunic, Deathloop, and A Plague Tale: Requiem got me hooked and I played them to completion. Many others also got played to the end, just not with the same enthusiasm.

But then I wondered what would I have played without Game Pass? Deathloop I would have bought. A Plague Tale: Requiem would have been a no (the first came out before I got Game Pass and I didn’t buy that then), and while I do like small games like Tunic I rarely ever bought them as more often than not I end up wasting money on something I don’t play. Other games like Avengers and Life Is Strange I certainly wouldn’t have bought.

So I conclude that without Game Pass, this year would probably have been one of those years I didn’t buy any games on Xbox or only bought one. I’m not sure if that makes it a good or bad year for games, I definitely had a lot of fun though.

On the Nintendo front it’s more clear cut. I got the DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and finally got Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. I know they have had new games, they just didn’t appeal.

Giving it a pass
So, as a PC gamer I have the option of signing up for PC Game Pass, but I never have.

As a couple of people said yesterday people will all play games differently.

I will usually have a couple of games on the go at a time, but these are usually very different games.

I will have a racing sim that I will pour hours into, usually as part of a racing league. This will not be on Game Pass.

Then I will also have another, usually open world type game on the go. This will take me months to complete (I usually get through two to three games a year). I’ve usually either picked that game up for a song in a sale or got it as a freebie in a giveaway.

As a result £10 a month (£120 a year) is actually more than I would spend on a year’s worth of gaming anyway.

One caveat, I have built up Microsoft Points now for a free month and once I’ve finished my current single-player game I’m going to give it a go, mainly for Forza Horizon 5 and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

I can see if you are time rich and like shorter games it’s a great proposition though!

Anyway,.. have fun gaming y’all! And a merry Christmas!
The Dude Abides

Too soon
I do find it bizarre that people are already talking about a PS5 Pro.

Surely I’m not the only one who sees the PS4 Pro as a bit of a damp squib, that was shown to be a product released too soon by the Xbox One X.

We can’t know the inner workings at Sony, but with all the promo and leaks for Project Scorpio It seems Sony set to work to make sure they completely dominated the market by releasing an upgraded console first… something that didn’t pay off for gamers.

I see the four year gap before the release of an upgrade as the way to go.

However, we are really still waiting for this generation to take off properly.

If I were Sony or Microsoft I wouldn’t want to release anything aside from a slim version of my console until my development team had a full grasp on Unreal Engine 5, to see where the bottlenecks were.

I would also want to be sure I was able to bring it to market at a reasonable price ($499/£413) and the existing version could be reduced in price ($399/£330).

But why reduce the price of the current model when it is still selling so well and making you money (the PlayStation 5 is sold at a profit and I assume that the Xbox is only said to be sold at a massive loss due to allocating research & development and marketing costs, rather than just the build costs).

I would hope that at E3 (if there is one) we see both acknowledge they are working on upgrades but not releasing them until 2024.
irve77 (gamertag/PSN ID)

Another world
RE: The Wizard’s understandable confusion about that Conker’s Bad Fur Day/G-Fuel Mighty Poo malarkey (now there’s a sentence).

It’s nothing new. People have been selling farts in jars since eBay started and the mind bewilders about what took place before.

You cannot comprehend the incomprehensible.
Chevy Malibu (PSN ID)

Three good options
Just a note about three of the best value or free options for PC gamers out there. All of them have been mentioned on the letters pages before and are hardly secret but worth recapping.

Humble Bundle is a gaming website where you can buy games or get a subscription but they also do charity Humble Bundles. Completely legit. They do games, software, and ebook bundles where there is a minimum amount to pay or you can choose to pay more as it’s for charity.

I buy maybe one in 1- but it is ridiculously good value even paying more than the minimum. You have to set up a free account to sign in but delivery of the vast majority of games are simply Steam codes, which will store in your library. Some of the ebook bundles are incredible as well and DRM free for all I’ve had.

Epic Games. You do need to set up a free account and install the Epic Games launcher (pretty much the same as Steam) but they genuinely give away a free game every week (and every day in the lead up to Christmas) with absolutely no catches. I know it’s a loss leader to get people on their platform, but I honestly can’t believe the giveaways are still going on after two years, with some great games given away.

Amazon Prime Gaming. You need to be a Prime subscriber for this one, but it seems oddly hidden away on the site. Probably an easier way but if you log in on a PC to Amazon, click the Prime banner in the gray bar at top of the page then scroll down to ‘Need help’. The link to Prime Gaming is there then just bookmark it. You need to install an Amazon game launcher for most games.

Just thought of a fourth: Netflix. If you are a subscriber and haven’t downloaded the app for some reason, then do so. There is the link at the bottom of the home screen for games (just for mobile). Dead straight ahead.
Mark Freeman

Inbox also-rans
So what I’m learning from that list of 39 Christmas number ones is that UK gamers have always had really boring taste in games. The only surprise is seeing Zelda: Ocarina Of Time in there, so at least there’s a few glimmers of brightness.

Personally I hope Rockstar sue the makers of Goat Simulator 3 and win. I’d like to see their reaction if Rockstar stole early footage of one of their games and turned it into a joke.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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