After Microsoft’s Xbox Games Showcase last week did very little to demonstrate the Xbox Series X’s power advantage over Sony’s PlayStation 5, the next-gen Xbox has just received a surprising endorsement. Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve and one of the most respected persons in the video games industry recently gave a rare TV interview where he made his next-gen consoles preferences pretty clear.
When one of the journalists from a New Zealand TV show asked Newell what was the best new console to pick up later this year between the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, the Valve co-founder bluntly replied “The Xbox.” After the journalist expressed his surprise with a “Really?”, Newell drove in the nail with a “Because it is,” causing some laughter in the audience. You can watch the quite funny segment below.
"I don’t have a stake in that race, Newell explained. "Obviously, we do most of our development on personal computers, but of the two, I would definitely go with an Xbox,” he added. Seeing the Valve co-founder endorse the next-gen Xbox is a bit surprising considering his past criticisms of Microsoft and the Windows Store on Windows 8, which Newell called a "catastrophe.”
Newell, who used to work at Microsoft between 1983 and 1996, found a common ground with Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney, one of the biggest critics of the Windows Store and UWP games in recent years. Interestingly, Sweeney recently endorsed the PlayStation 5 and its superior SSD technology, going as far as describing it as “god-tier”. This was before Sony announced a $250M investment Epic Games, and before Epic chose to showcase its Unreal Engine 5 on the PlayStation 5.
Microsoft's Xbox Series X isn't exactly in the best spot right now. It's been known for quite some time that Microsoft's console has more computing power than the PlayStation 5, though the latter may still stand out with its proprietary storage technology. However, Microsoft has yet to truly show off this power advantage, and we didn't see it on last week's Halo: Infinite gameplay demo which was running on a PC. Worse, developer 343 Industries has since clarified that the Xbox Series X version of Halo: Infinite won't support ray tracing at launch.
Newell's words of support for the Xbox Series X were quite unexpected, but they won't really matter: The PlayStation 4 has quickly become the lead platform during this console generation thanks to more than 100 million units sold, and PS4 gamers have few reasons to switch allegiances when Sony is committed to supporting backwards compatibility on the PlayStation 5. Sony's ability to deliver system sellers such as The Last of Us 2, or Ghost of Tsushima is also still unmatched, though Microsoft's content strategy for Xbox Game Pass may become increasingly tempting for PlayStation fans.
Microsoft still has many other opportunities to highlight the Xbox Series X's technical superiority before the launch of next-gen consoles this holiday season. So far, we haven't really seen how next-gen features such as ray tracing, 120 FPS support, and Quick Resume will make a difference for Xbox gamers, but we hope that Microsoft will finally focus on these things in the next couple of weeks. It's good to see someone like Gabe Newell confirm that the Xbox Series X will be the next-gen console, but now we really need to see it with our own eyes.