Gabe Newell is, without question, one of the most important figures in the world of video games. Having founded Valve in 1996, he then went on to launch Steam in 2003, a digital distribution service for video games which has become the de facto port of call for PC Gamers worldwide. Of course, Newell’s company also made video game classic Half-Life too…
So it’s pretty big news when the man nicknamed “Gaben” opens his mouth about any video game-related subject, especially if it has to do with the upcoming launch of Microsoft’s and Sony’s next-gen consoles, something which is likely in most people’s minds right now.
During a talk show in New Zealand (where Newell has taken refuge during the COVID-19 crisis) the US billionaire was asked which of the two upcoming consoles of the PlayStation and Xbox family is better, as was recently reported on PC Gamer.
Newell answered without hesitation “the Xbox”, something which may have surprised some, but perhaps it shouldn’t.
Of course, being a billionaire Newell can just buy both consoles this fall and doesn’t really have to choose between both machines, but it is quite logical that he would go with the Xbox Series X. After all, any and all first-party Xbox exclusives also release on PC, and most of these (such as Gears 5) end up on Steam too.
And even if Sony is starting to be a bit more open about allowing its golden exclusives such as Horizon Zero Dawn to hit the PC, the Xbox Series X seems more closely aligned to the PC than the PS5 and its more closed ecosystem, plus the fact that Microsoft makes the operating system that Steam runs on might also have something to do with this as one Forbes contributor has pointed out.
Despite Newell’s preference, though, it seems that Sony and the PlayStation 5 may have already won the battle. A survey carried out by Experience 12 (a UK agency involved in pop culture marketing) revealed that a whopping 84 percent of respondents were more interested in the PS5 than the Xbox Series X.
This survey does seem skewed towards a particular demographic: almost 60 percent of respondents were males in the 18 to 34 years old age group, while close to 60 percent of the respondents picked the PS4 as their preferred platform in the survey too. Despite this, Xbox Series X exclusive Halo Infinite was amongst the most anticipated video game releases of the year, though.
However, a poll conducted on IGN earlier this month (via Forbes) suggests the PS5 could be handsomely outselling the Xbox Series X this year, with 54.1 % saying they plan to go for Sony’s console, while only 21.6 % of those who took part in the poll planned on buying the Xbox Series X.
This could be the reason why Sony decided to increase initial production of PS5 consoles to 10 million, perhaps expecting Microsoft’s new Xbox console to tank badly this year.
One could argue that PlayStation brand loyalty is too strong now with the PS4 having sold more than 100 million so far, and that most people will be sporting a PS5 in their living rooms in the years to come rather than an Xbox Series X.
There could be a silver lining for Microsoft though: the Xbox Series X does seem to have an edge when it comes to hardware, and its cheaper edition (codenamed Lockhart) could be the least expensive console launching this fall. Meanwhile, Xbox brand loyalty in the USA is still high, plus with a strong launch title like Halo Infinite there’s still a possibility that Microsoft could rain on Sony’s parade this year, even if this is still a matter of wait and see now.