It’s The State of Gaming Podcast for August 2020, Popzara’s in-depth look at what’s shaking up the gaming landscape delivered on a monthly basis. Our hosts Cory Galliher and Nate Evans guide you through the best, worst, and everything else that’s making headlines and headway in the fine world of interactive entertainment. Change is in the air, especially as summer turns to fall, and with two giant hardware releases on the horizon fans can expect one heck of a transition. Let’s get to it!
Next-Gen Pricing Wars: It’s On!
At long last, we finally know what we’ve sorta-kinda guessed all along: both Microsoft and Sony have finally unveiled their pricing for their respective next-gen Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles – and both are pretty much what we expected, with a few genuine surprises that help make things really interesting.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles will cost $499 and $299, a huge price disparity fitting their disparity in hardware and performance. Microsoft will offer monthly financing for both consoles through their Xbox All Access service; $35 monthly for the Series X and $25 monthly for the Series S. Both plans include Game Pass Ultimate, as well as EA Play and game streaming on select hardware.
Sony’s PlayStation 5 will come in two varieties – the higher-priced $499 model and All-Digital version at $399, the only hardware difference between the two being the former’s optical disc drive. Also expected at launch is a curated PlayStation Plus Collection of PS4 “greatest hits” you may have missed, though pricing for the service hasn’t been announced yet.
As a special treat for loyal listeners, our hosts welcome Popzara senior tech editor Herman Exum onto the show to help sort out the more nerdy technical details and differences between the two consoles, as well as how specific formats will affect their respective “theoretical” audio / visual output to your old 4K HDR displays – and why upgrading “everything” may not be as easy as you think.
Both consoles are expected to play a huge library of “new” and enhanced blockbusters like Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Destiny 2: Beyond Light, Watch Dogs Legion, Devil May Cry V: Special Edition, Cyberpunk 2077 and others, a respectable lineup by any means. Notably missing from Microsoft’s launch lineup, however, are marquee titles on the level of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon Souls, though a case could be made the monthly financing and Game Pass services are the real “killer apps” the next-gen Xbox needs to compete with Sony this go around.
Pre-orders for the PlayStation 5 have begun already (and have been hugely chaotic, to say the least) while Microsoft opens pre-orders for their Xbox Series X/S on September 22th. The Xbox will be released November 10th while the PlayStation comes out two days later on November 12th, a close window that promises a very interesting week for retailers, indeed.
The Games of September
Among the month’s biggest heavy-hitters include Marvel’s Avengers from Square Enix, a super-powered assemblage of heroes that don’t quite look like what you’d want and gameplay that’s not quite as heroic as you’d like. There’s also the question of endless grinding and DLC, as well as a subpar leading lady that’s not quite ready for primetime.
On a more positive side of things there’s much love for Activision’s remake-remaster of the much beloved early 2000s sensation Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2, with all the combos, tricks, stunts, gnarly moves and levels that made you fall in love in the first place, looking and playing better than ever. If you somehow missed the original games, or just feel the need to shred all over again, there’s never been a better time to get back on the board.
Nintendo joins the re-release train with Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch, a three-game collection of the mustachioed mascot plumber’s polygonal adventures from 1996 (Super Mario 64), 2002 (Super Mario Sunshine) and 2007 (Super Mario Galaxy). We’ve seen Super Mario 64 pop up here and there over the years, but this is the first time both Sunshine and Galaxy have ever been officially released outside their original GameCube and Wii editions. It’s also a timed release, so you better act quick before picking up a copy means taking out a second mortgage and skipping college.
After ten years and over 70 million units sold Nintendo officially retires their stereoscopic 3D portable, and our hosts are ready to give an appropriate eulogy for perhaps the last dedicated Nintendo portable gaming machine we’re likely to see. Also discussed is the NPD Group’s retail reporting for August 2020, a month absolutely filled with Nintendo exclusives like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Ring Fit – and a few PlayStation 4 heavy-hitters like The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima.