- Sony and Microsoft are working on the next versions of the PlayStation and the Xbox, respectively.
- Both new consoles are expected to arrive ahead of the holiday shopping season next year.
- Although neither console has an official name just yet, we know a surprising amount of confirmed information about the new consoles thanks to Sony and Microsoft.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
It's true: In just over 12 months, a new PlayStation and a new Xbox are scheduled to launch.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's the fifth PlayStation and fourth Xbox generation. As such, it's likely that the next PlayStation will be called PlayStation 5. The next Xbox's name is anyone's guess — it's code-named "Project Scarlett" by Microsoft.
Although neither has gotten the full showcase treatment just yet, both Sony and Microsoft have detailed the consoles with a surprising amount of specificity. As such, we've broken down the similarities and differences below — here's how the two consoles stack up:
More than ever, Sony's next PlayStation and Microsoft's next Xbox are eerily similar consoles.
They have similar chips powering them, similar amounts of memory, and similar storage levels. They both have disc drives ( still) and are expected to launch during the 2020 holiday season.
Microsoft and Sony are employing AMD's Navi processors to make their consoles faster than ever and solid-state hard drives to cut down dramatically on load times. Both are using GDDR6 RAM for memory.
Sony has gotten slightly more detailed than Microsoft in one respect: The PlayStation 5 will apparently feature a Ryzen-based CPU from AMD.
Both Microsoft and Sony are touting the ability to produce 8K visuals and "ray tracing" (an improved lighting system for game visuals) with all those beefy specs.
The long and short is this: The next-generation Xbox console is using pretty similar tech to what Sony's using with the PlayStation 5 (and vice versa).
For the most part, Sony and Microsoft have detailed only the specs of their forthcoming consoles.
But there's one feature both are touting that's directly attributable to their solid-state hard drives: faster loading times.
Both Sony and Microsoft directly cite faster loading times as a tentpole feature of their next-gen consoles. Sony even demonstrated the feature in a video:
Both companies are also touting a new lighting feature, called ray tracing, that promises to make in-game lighting more detailed than ever.
And finally, both companies are saying that their next-gen consoles will produce 8K visuals — a pretty meaningless promise at this point, given that the vast majority of consumers don't own a TV capable of handling 8K visuals, but it's intended as a means of future-proofing the consoles.
"Halo Infinite," the next game in the long-running first-person-shooter series, is scheduled to launch alongside the next Xbox. It is the only game thus far to get an official announcement for a specific next-gen console.
That said, at least two other major games have been announced for unspecified "next-gen" consoles: "The Elder Scrolls VI" and "Starfield." Both games are in production at Bethesda Game Studios, the folks behind the "Elder Scrolls" and "Fallout" series, and, if we're being honest, both are likely to come to the next Xbox and the next PlayStation (and probably PC as well). Bethesda makes multiplatform blockbuster games, and that is unlikely to change with "Starfield" and "The Elder Scrolls VI."
Additionally, there are some logical guesses to make about other games in the works: The annual "Call of Duty" that arrives in 2020 will almost certainly come to the next Xbox and PlayStation, and the same can be said for "FIFA," "Madden," and the next "Assassin's Creed."
Services — by which we mean stuff like Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Vue, and Xbox Game Pass — are a big question mark right now.
There's no reason to believe that any of these services would suddenly cease to exist on next-gen consoles. Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus transitioned seamlessly from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively. It seems entirely likely that they'll do as much once again with Project Scarlett and PlayStation 5.
Similarly, Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription has been a massive success. Moreover, it's the foundation for Microsoft's plans for its future with Xbox. Given that Microsoft just expanded the service to PC and announced a bunch of major Game Pass initiatives, it seems guaranteed that Game Pass will move forward with Project Scarlett.
Additionally, we know that Microsoft's Project xCloud game-streaming service is expected to work on Project Scarlett — we know almost no details about it thus far, but the "Netflix for games" service is going into beta in the year leading up to the launch of Project Scarlett.
One crucial similarity: backward compatibility.
Something that both Microsoft and Sony have stated outright is that both of their next-gen consoles will support backward compatibility: the ability to play games from previous console generations.
Microsoft has gone into a bit more detail than Sony in this regard. "The original Xbox games and Xbox 360 games that are backward compatible now on your Xbox One, those will play. Your Xbox One games will play, your accessories will play," Xbox leader Phil Spencer told me in a mid-June interview.
Sony, meanwhile, has said only that the PlayStation 5 would be able to play PlayStation 4 games — a more limited version of the backward compatibility offered on the next Xbox.
Still, both consoles supporting at least some form of backward compatibility is reassuring.