2023 Year in Review: Xbox and PlayStation

Both PlayStation and Xbox sent out links to “Your year on {insert platform name here}” this week. Maybe Nintendo did as well but I can’t even remember the last time I turned on my Switch.

Initially I was just going to paste a couple images into a blog post and call it a day but they’re kind of big and cumbersome so I thought maybe I’d list some of the figures as well. These aren’t like-for-like as each company reports different things.


Clip from my Playstation Year End recap showing my top 5 games as listed in the text

My top 5 PlayStation games in terms of hours played:

1) Genshin Impact, 253 hours played
2) Snowrunner, 93 hours played (so far!)
3) Final Fantasy XVI, 49 hours (felt like more)
4) No Man’s Sky, 33 hours (on Playstation, I also played on both Xbox and PC, at least a little)
5) The Walking Dead Saints and Sinners, 21 hours (that’s a PSVR title)

In total I played 36 different games on PlayStation, and played for 495 hours. Sheesh. I earned 163 Trophies but no Platinums. They also claim I spent 6 hours playing “with my squad” but I can’t remember spending a moment in MP unless they’re counting dipping into FF XIV or Elder Scrolls Online or something. Lastly, my gaming style was “Thrill Seeker” whatever that means: “You spent 59% of your game time on the edge of your seat, following your goal no matter the odds.”


Clip from my year end recap of Xbox gaming showing my top 3 games as listed in the text

Microsoft only reports my top 3 games:

1) Persona 4 Golden, 126 hours
2) Starfield, 72 hours
3) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, 50 hours

True Achievements also does something similar, though they list Achievements rather than hours. But based on that I’m going to hazard a guess for what would be #4 on the list:
4) Ghostwire Tokyo, 39 Achievements

After that, I’m just not sure what #5 would be.

In total I played 149 different games, but that figure is bloated by chasing Microsoft Rewards points. Every week there’re 2 games that give points and one of them is generally “Just start the game” so if we knock 98 games (104 – 6 still to come) we get 51 different games I played by choice. I spent 486 hours gaming on Xbox. Pretty close to the PlayStation number. I earned 242 Achievements. For a filthy casual I didn’t do too bad. MS says I’m in the top 10% of gamers for hours played and the top 5% by number of Achievemnts earned and Gamerscore, though that last isn’t clear. Do they meant total Gamerscore or Gamerscore this year? Who knows? I’m guessing this year because my total Gamerscore is pretty low (67,722).


So there ya go, my year of gaming. Sure I played a bit on Steam but not enough as is worth tracking. I did play some Xbox PC games but those, I assume, are counted under the Xbox year in review. Now share your recaps!

Header image generated by https://imagine.meta.com/ using the prompt “Picture of a couple walking hand in hand down a beach at sunset. One of them has an X on their back, as in the Xbox logo, the other the letters PS5, as in the Playstation logo. They are walking away from us.” The logos aren’t perfect but I think I was fighting copyright issues so… I’ll take what I can get.

Next Gen Consoles, 9 Months Later

I was fortunate enough to get both an Xbox Series X and a Playstation 5 at launch, and as I’ve mentioned I’m primarily a console gamer. I thought I’d recap my feelings on the two machines. I’ve been meaning to do this since I hit the 6-month point with them but, y’know, procrastination.

I’m coming at this from the point of view of the average user. I haven’t counted pixels or connected meters and flux capacitors to the machines to measure anything. This is all my opinion and based on ‘natural’ observation.

Speed – I believe on paper the Xbox Series X is supposed to be capable of generating more speed, but in practical terms both machines feel similar to me. If a game comes out on both platforms I might wait to see what the pixel-counters at Digital Foundry have to say and then get the game on the machine that runs it best. That or wait for it to be on sale somewhere. Neither seems to dominate here so I’m calling it a wash.

Reliability – Most new hardware as complex as a game console comes with some minor issues. The Xbox Series X has been extremely reliable. Once or twice some sub-system would start to feel a little wonky, but a reboot has always cleared it up. I’ve had more issues with the Playstation 5, particularly right around launch. Most of these involved issues with external storage and for a long while I stopped using “Rest Mode” because when I woke the machine I’d be met with stern warnings about not shutting down properly and I’d need to rebuild databases and repair drives. This was happening when I was using an external SSD powered via USB port. I switched to an old HDD with its own power supply and the issue cleared up. I haven’t tested the SSD lately but overall, the Xbox wins in reliability. All that said, it’s not a huge win because both systems have been generally reliable and we haven’t seen reports of widespread issues with either platform.

Noise – I REALLY hate fan noise, and both these machines are essentially silent. This one is a toss up but both are FAR superior to the PS4, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One. (I did have an Xbox One X which was also very quiet.) I love how quiet these machines are.

Innovation – Giving this one to Playstation 5 because of the cool haptics they’ve added to the controller. Those can really change how a game feels, though I’m sure some gamers disable them because in many cases they make the game more immersive but more difficult. Both systems of course have fast SSDs and the difference in load times compared to the older consoles is astounding. Xbox has “Quick Resume” which is pretty handy; it allows you to basically ‘sleep’ a game without saving or shutting it down, and you can switch between slept games quickly. That’s a cool feature but not, in my opinion, as cool as the Dual Sense haptics on the PS5. PS5 controller also has a speaker and microphone in the controller, which is kind of neat.

Storage – Xbox wins. The Xbox Series X launched with a port for a ‘next gen’ 1 TB memory card. The PS5 has a slot for a 2nd SSD but they’ve just now rolled out a beta of the operating system that supports it; those of us not in the beta continue to wait to put this slot to use. You have to open up the PS5 to install this, which isn’t a huge deal but it’s a lot more work then inserting a ‘card’ into a slot on the back of the Series X. If you’re wealthy enough (right now a 1 TB expansion for either system is going to cost in the $200-$220 range since they use cutting edge SSD technology) you could even have a few expansion cards for the Xbox and switch between them.

Both consoles support external storage for ‘last gen’ games but again the Xbox wins. It supports multiple external storage devices. I have a 1 TB SSD for Xbox One games I’m playing, and a jumbo 8 TB HDD for long term storage. The PS5 only supports one external drive at a time.

Game Library – This is a tough one. The Playstation ecosystem has more flashy exclusives, though honesty not too many for PS5 yet. The Xbox has great backwards compatibility so you can play games from the Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S libraries all on this hardware and in many cases older generation games run better than they ever have due to framerate boosts and features like “Auto HDR” which adds HDR to games that never supported it.

The big thing is most Xbox games are also available on PC, so if you’re a PC gamer looking for a console to expand your gaming collection, Playstation makes the most sense for its exclusives. If you don’t have a gaming PC and want access to a large variety of games go with the Xbox because of the huge libary and because….

Game Pass – There’s no real comparison here. Only Xbox has Game Pass. Game Pass is a great value. For $10/month you can download and play 200+ games (including all first party Xbox games, which now includes upcoming Bethesda titles like Starfield), with new titles being added every week (though titles do leave eventually too). If you go up to $15/month for Game Pass Ultimate you can also play the games streaming on mobile devices and on computers via Xcloud, and you then get access to Game Pass for PC & get some PC titles as well. The prices I list are full retail prices and if you shop around or wait a bit, there are frequently sales and special offers. I usually pad out my subscription during Black Friday sales.

Sony does have PS Now, which is $10 month and is technically similar to Game Pass, but it features mostly back catalog titles. I have to admit I’m watching from the outside, but I do think PS Now is getting better. However at the time of this writing it can’t really compare to Game Pass.

Summary – OK that feels like a lot of words and I could keep on going, but I won’t try your patience. So if I had to choose one which would I go with? Probably the Xbox just because Game Pass is such a great value. There’s always something new to play. I’d really miss the PS5 though; it feels more ‘next gen’ than the Xbox Series X does (looks it too, for better or for worse…the thing makes a statement in your living room. It is HUGE.). Put it this way, if either of these consoles was stolen or destroyed somehow, I’d replace it. I really like having both. I do think for folks who are primarily PC gamers, Playstation 5 makes the most sense since you’ll get those exclusives that aren’t available on PC.

Sony is letting us register to pre-order a PS5

We’ve heard that quantities of the PS5 (and probably Xbox Series X) will be limited this holiday, but I kind of thought there was a certain amount of “ass-covering” around that announcement. Now I’m not so sure.

Today I got an email from Sony asking if I wanted to register to be among the first to know when PS5 pre-orders are going live. It’s not clear exactly what this means: is it just going to be an announcement email, or are we going to get some kind of personalized link to pre-order? Who knows? It does sound like we’ll be ordering direct from Sony, though.

I thought this was interesting. Here’s the bulk of the email:

PS5™ Console Pre-Orders are coming – Register for an opportunity to be one of the first!

PlayStation 5 is coming!

Register for an opportunity to be one of the first to pre-order your PS5™ console directly from PlayStation.

There will be a limited quantity of PS5™ consoles available for pre-order, so we will be inviting some of our existing consumers to be one of the first to pre-order one from PlayStation.

To learn more or register, please click the “Register” button below.

Registration button sends you here:
I think anyone can get in on it.

To learn more about this PS5 Console pre-order opportunity, please visit our FAQs.

Ordering direct from Sony has me wondering about shipping costs, delivery dates and such. I usually pre-order my consoles from Amazon which gets me free-shipping and launch day delivery.

Even if you register, there’s just a chance that you will be selected.

So yeah, this is gonna be a weird launch.

I’ll let you know if I get selected and get a pre-order in.

Playstation 5 & Xbox Series X for PC gamers

Most of my social media friends are primarily PC gamers so I thought I’d write a post helping them to decide if/when they should buy a Playstation 5 [PS5] or an Xbox Series X [XSX]. But before we get into that, lets talk a little bit about the console business model.

Both Sony and Microsoft sell their consoles (particularly near launch) at a loss. The idea is to get you in the door, then they make their money off of you via software and subscription sales. As a general rule of thumb when you buy a game on one of their platforms they get 30% of the sale price, and of course 100% for first party titles. Keep that in mind as we discuss each machine.

Now let’s talk about exclusives. True exclusives are becoming increasingly rare these days. Don’t be fooled when a company says “console exclusive” or “timed exclusive.” The former means the game WILL be on PC (just not on the other console), the latter means it’ll be on PC you’ll just have to wait a while.

Playstation 5

Let’s talk PS5 first. Sony is a ‘traditional’ console seller in that their console is their platform. They want to sell a bunch of PS5s to build market share. This is why they have such high quality exclusives. Sony is willing to devote a ton of resources into exclusives because these are used as the ‘bait’ to get you into the Playstation ecosystem.

Tangent: I’m not a developer so this might be nonsense, but I suspect that true Playstation exclusives look as good as they do because the developers can take advantage of every hardware-specific feature and trick there is. They’re not worried about “how will we do this on Xbox or PC” so they can squeeze every drop of power out of their single target hardware.

Once you buy that PS5 to play an exclusive, Sony hopes you’ll buy other games, plus peripherals and maybe a Playstation+ subscription. The only other Playstation revenue stream they have is their streaming service Playstation Now, but so far Sony has used this mostly to put their back-catalog to use. They really want to force you to buy a Playstation in order for you to play their newest, hottest titles.

So when should you but a PS5? When there are enough exclusives to justify the hardware cost; so 2022 maybe? The truth is you probably won’t use your PS5 very much; all your friends are on PC and if you’re a dedicated PC gamer your rig is probably more powerful than the PS5 is, or at the very least it will be when you upgrade in a couple of years. Most of my die-hard PC gamer friends report that their consoles mostly collect dust after an initial burst of enthusiasm.

Xbox Series X

Now let’s talk about Microsoft. Microsoft diverges from Sony in a huge way in that the Xbox hardware platform is not their only revenue stream. They have this side project called Windows as well. Microsoft’s focus is on selling you software and subscriptions, and they’re leaning harder and harder into subscriptions at this point.

Because of this, XSX exclusives aren’t always as flashy as PS5 exclusives. In fact there are virtually no true XSX exclusives; Microsoft is making a concerted effort to offer all its games on Windows as well as Xbox.

Recently Xbox Game Pass has become a huge focus. It works on Xbox hardware and on Windows machines. Microsoft is happy to sell you an XSX, sure, but what it REALLY wants to sell you is a Game Pass subscription and it doesn’t care where you play the games. Could be on Xbox, could be on PC, could be via Xcloud.

In fact one could argue that they’d prefer you play on PC. Consider that when you buy an XSX, Microsoft loses money. When you buy a new gaming PC that comes with a Windows license, Microsoft earns money. [Granted a lot of PC gamers just carry their Windows license with them, but every time an Alienware, OriginPC or a gaming PC from Best Buy is sold, Microsoft makes money on that Windows license.]

Of course when you play on Windows, Microsoft doesn’t make anything from you when you buy a game from Steam, Origin, Epic or any other store, and no one that I know chooses to buy from the Windows Store unless they can’t avoid it. But again, this is where Game Pass comes in and why Microsoft is leaning so hard into it. Game Pass is their on-going revenue stream from PC gamers.

So when should you, the PC gamer, buy an Xbox Series X? Never. XSX is for those of us who don’t want/can’t afford a gaming PC. But as long as PC gaming is your jam, there’s very little reason for you to buy an XSX.

Snarky Summary

Hopefully this post will be of some help and will stop some of the complaints from PC gamers about how little incentive there is for them to buy a new console. These consoles are not generally meant for you. You’re wealthy enough that you can buy a $1500-$3000 gaming PC and then a few hundred dollars more every couple of years to keep it up to snuff. Be content with that, and understand that consoles are meant for a different market. Let console gamers enjoy their once-a-decade $400-500 new devices in peace. Don’t be the guy driving around in a Ferrari complaining that Chevrolet is giving you no reason to buy their new Aveo model.

Playstation 5 Showcase reaction

I feel kind of compelled to write something about the Playstation 5 Showcase that Sony streamed on June 6th, 2020, but the fact of the matter is, I didn’t come away with any strong feelings one way or the other about the system in general.

When I watch something like this (or Microsoft’s first game reveal a while back) what is going through my mind is this: am I seeing games that make it worth buying a $500 console to play. (No official prices have been shared yet, I’m assuming $500.)

The Games

I saw a lot of games that, on the surface at least, seemed like they’d work fine on the PS4 or Xbox One, or on a mid-tier gaming PC. So that was a bit of a disappointment. On the other hand, Ratchet & Clank seemed designed to show off what the PS5 can do thanks to its SSD setup. Watch in this trailer as the duo portal between vastly different tilesets really quickly. There’s an intermediate ‘realm’ that they’re in for maybe a second before heading into a new biome.

Now maybe that’s all pre-rendered in which case, no big deal. But if this was captured “live” then it’s pretty impressive.

Of course the feather in Sony’s hat is always exclusives, and the one game shown that made the PS5 a must-have for me was Horizon: Forbidden West. Horizon Zero Dawn is one of my all-time favorite games so I HAVE to play the sequel!

As far as I know we don’t have a release date for Horizon Forbidden West. I would assume if it was a 2020 title — a launch title — then Sony would’ve promoted that fact pretty heavily. So yeah I need a PS5 to play HFW, but that’s not for launch (probably).

In fact it isn’t yet clear what the launch lineup is going to look like; it seems like maybe the new Spiderman game is Sony’s big 1st party launch title. Thing is, I never bothered finishing Spiderman on PS4; I just didn’t like it that much.

One issue both Sony and Microsoft are struggling with is that the new consoles are about more than just graphics. Both companies are talking about fast loading times and higher frame rates than we’ve seen on the current generation. Sony is talking about the haptic feedback of the new controller, too. But you can’t really experience any of these features without actually playing the games

The Competition

Sony is going the classic console generation route. While some (many? most?) PS4 games will run on the PS5, the only ones we can be SURE will work are games coming out between about now and launch. Will there be enough to justify a purchase for me at launch? I’m still up in the air. And what about cross-generation games? If I buy The Last of Us Part 2 this summer, will Sony ask me to buy the PS5 version of The Last of Us Part 2 as a separate SKU? They did that during the PS3 – PS4 transition. Microsoft is NOT doing that. For their 1st party games, the same license covers Xbox One and Xbox Series X versions of the game.

Continuing with the Microsoft comparison, Microsoft is bringing games from 4 generations to the Series X. My understanding is (don’t take my word for it tho, I still need to confirm) that I can unplug the external drive from my Xbox One, plug it in to the Xbox Series X, and keep playing all those games, only they’ll run better. For example Destiny 2 will run at 60 FPS on Series X while it runs at 30 FPS on Xbox One X. That makes the Series X something I will buy on Day 1 since I’ll have a huge library to play while waiting for Series X games to arrive.

So for me the Sony showcase gets a “B” grade. I want the equivalent of an Uncharted or a Horizon to play on Day 1, if I can’t bring my old library with me. Hopefully before launch we’ll have a better idea of how many PS4 games will run on PS5. If it turns out MOST will, then PS5 becomes a more likely 2020 purchase for me.

The Hardware

I’d like to know more about the hardware, too. Will it be quiet? I rarely use my PS4 Pro because it is astonishingly loud. Even with headphones on, the sound is annoying: that high-pitched whine like a dentist’s drill. It’s awful.

I’d also like to see how many ports are on the back. PS5 is supposed to support PSVR, which means a port for the camera and a port for the PSVR breakout box. You probably want a port for an external drive as well. So I’m hoping there’s a good number of ports on the back. (The front has 1 USB-C and 1 USB-A.)

The PS5 comes with a TB of SSD space, and I’m reading that about 825 GB of that is available which for a game-grazer like me, isn’t a ton of space. You can add a second SSD drive, but not just any SSD drive; it has to meet certain specs we don’t have yet, and I’m guessing it won’t be cheap SSD drives. PS4 games can still be run off an external USB drive, though it isn’t clear if this will require a special format or if you can just plug in your PS4 drive and start playing.

So yeah, still lots of questions. I’ll be getting a PS5 to play Horizon Forbidden West whenever it launches, but I might make the unusual (for me) choice to skip the new console at launch. We’ll see what other info Sony shares with us over the coming months.