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Useful Notes / The Ninth Generation of Console Video Games

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A new phase of the Console Wars began in November 2020 with the PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series X and Series S duel, kicking off this new generation.

Having both standardized around PC-style x86 architechture in the previous gen, the new consoles utilize customized versions of the drastically improved AMD Zen CPU and RDNA GPU platformsnote . An even more significant change, however, is the transition from mechanical hard drives to high speed NVMe SSDs, allowing game assets to load near instantaneously.

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Despite similar hardware to their predecessors and each other, however, the divergence in business model between Microsoft and Sony that began in gen 8 is now in full force. Sony remains very much a hardware first company and is pushing the PS5 as a clean break, emphasizing new entries to its 1st party IPs that it claims cannot be done on old hardwarenote  and introducing a significantly redesigned DualSense controller. Microsoft on the other hand, is taking an evolutionary approach more akin to the smartphone market. Buying the newest console will get the best experience but new games and experiences will continue to work on the Xbox One for at least a few yearsnote  while the controller and accessory lineup is largely unchanged. This goes in hand with a shift more towards selling Xbox as a service with many different entry points across consoles, PCs, and mobile devices via cloud streamingnote .

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While set top boxes and mobile were seen as the big window for new competition last gen, this time around it is all about the cloud. Previous efforts at streaming from companies such as OnLive failed miserably thanks to issues of latency and inadequate hardware, but with sufficiently fast internet available almost anywhere, the effort is once again being made, particularly among the major tech giants. Microsoft launched Xbox Cloud Gaming, colloquially known by its development name xCloud, on Android phones and tablets which actually runs on console hardware mounted into server blades. The initial launch only includes Game Pass subscription titles but is likely to expand to purchased games as well as being released on Windows in the future. PlayStation Now, which was launched in the previous gen, exists more as a vehicle for playing PS1/2/3 games that are incompatible with the PS4/5, but pressure from Microsoft and others is likely to force Sony's hand into further building on it. The new players this round are the 100% cloud-based Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, using their ubiquitous Chromecast and Fire TV to find a place in people's living rooms respectively. One major caveat that exists however is in the mobile space thanks to Apple, whose infamous App Store policies, along with their own subscription service Apple Arcade, have prevented xCloud and Stadia from being available on iPhone,iPad, and Apple TV. Amazon is working around this by developing a web-based version of Luna, and the others may follow suit, but it won't end the controversy unless Apple loosens up.

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Despite being thrown off the standard generational cadence by throwing in the towel on the Wii U and launching the Switch halfway through last round, Nintendo remains in the mix doing what they do best: making Nintendo games. The Switch continues to sell gangbusters, with a huge spike in sales thanks to a lot of people staying home throughout 2020 and an updated model is expected in 2021. It is not yet known if it will be a mid-cycle spec boost or a full-fledged new generation, but like Xbox it is unlikely to make any sort of clean break in compatibility from the current one.

Consoles and Cloud Services of this generation

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    New IPs of this era 

    Games of older IPs 

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