Spencer: Launch Lineups Won’t Impact Console Sales, Only Review Scores; Holiday 2021 Is More Important
There's not much debate on the fact that a comparison of the launch lineups between Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X has a clear winner in the former.
Microsoft doesn't really have any big next-gen game that is only available on its console, to start with. Games like Halo Infinite and even the third-party exclusive (likely timed) The Medium were delayed into 2021.
However, in an interview published on Shacknews, Microsoft's Head of Gaming Phil Spencer pointed out how the launch lineups won't really impact console sales anyway due to the extremely low next-gen console supplies available this year, partly due to COVID. On the other hand, he argues Holiday 2021 will be much more important as supply issues will be gone, and game lineups will actually matter at that point.
I know there'll be press that will want to write, "Xbox launch lineup versus PS5 launch lineup." But if they're both sold out completely, I'm not sure the launch lineup had much impact on anything other than maybe some review score. It's not going to dictate what, how many consoles we sell. The number one thing that's going to dictate how many consoles we sell is not the competition and it's not a Halo or a launch lineup. It's going to be how many units we can build.
We see that. Our pre-orders sold within hours, and that's true of the competition as well. There is a high demand for gaming consoles right now, and we're both going to build as many as we can. So I think the possibility of Halo Infinite launching beside Xbox was more of a brand and heartfelt moment for us than it was critical to the launch. In fact, you could argue that holiday 2021 from a lineup is probably more important because from a competitive standpoint, both consoles—knock on wood—will have supply so there will be a demand constraint rather than a supply constraint in the next year.
This pretty much confirms Microsoft is confident in its long-term strategy. Right now, there's not a lot of reasons to buy an Xbox Series X, as mentioned by our Kai in his review of the console.
However, going forward they are clearly counting on a much meatier lineup, powered by first-party acquisitions like Bethesda's. For instance, it is believed that BGS' new IP in a very long time, Starfield, could be scheduled to launch in Holiday 2021.
Will customers jump on the PlayStation 5 right away or wait while the latest Xbox catches up, though?