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If Xbox can't beat PS5 this holiday, I'm not sure it ever will

With Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, and a superb Game Pass catalogue, Xbox wipes the floor with Sony's holiday offering.

Yes, I know that's a baity, console-war headline, but let's be honest, if I'd simply written "Xbox is a great buy this holiday" you wouldn't have clicked through.

Xbox as a platform is having a bit of a moment. While the start of the year was rather barren in terms of big releases, something magnified by the fact that everyone wanted shiny new games for their fancy new-gen consoles, summer onwards has been non-stop goodness.

Late July saw Flight Simulator arrive on Xbox, giving the Series X and S their first "Wow" exclusive. Of course, it also landed day one on Game Pass.

Psychonauts 2, a real Game of the Year contender, impressed greatly at the end of August. Xbox players couldn't claim exclusivity over this one, with it also coming to PlayStation platforms, but it was another superb Game Pass day one title to enjoy.

October saw Back 4 Blood arrive day one on Game Pass, which was a big get for the service that generally doesn't offer such large third-party AAA games the day you can buy them.

Then the big dogs rolled into town. Forza Horizon 5, GTA San Andreas from the new enhanced GTA Trilogy, and Halo Infinite hit Xbox and Game Pass in November and December.

I'm not overstating things by claiming Forza Horizon 5 is going to be one of the top three games of the year. It's an incredible game that feels like it's reaching a new, larger audience than ever before.

GTA San Andreas is a superb Game Pass get, and Halo Infinite could well beat out Horizon 5 as the biggest launch in Xbox Game Studios history. Did you play the Halo Infinite beta? Halo is back, and potentially in a very big way.

Add to those the likes of Art of Rally, 12 Minutes, Artful Escape, Sable, Football Manager 2022, and Skyrim (with a free new-gen update) since the summer and it's been quite the half-year for Xbox and Game Pass.

This isn't to say that the PS5 hasn't had some good games this year. Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Death Loop, and Kena: Bridge of Spirits, are all excellent, but Death Loop is being asked to do a lot of this holiday's heavy lifting, which it simply can't do alone.

In an industry where everyone is always looking to the next new and exciting thing, Xbox has PlayStation beat this holiday, no doubt, and Game Pass makes the platform far more budget-friendly (although, I won't go as far as saying cheap, when even the Series S costs £250 and Game Pass Ultimate is £11 a month before looking for deals).

Xbox is yet to fully deliver on its promise of blockbuster AAA exclusives the likes of which we take for granted on PlayStation, but it's getting there - although perhaps slightly fearful of the Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and God of War Ragnarok triple whammy coming next year. Then there's Forspoken and Ghostwire: Tokyo in terms of known third-party exclusives.

Xbox has to make the most of its advantage this Christmas. If Halo and Forza, plus a bevy of superb Game Pass games, can't beat Sony's non-existent holiday line-up, Xbox will likely stay in Sony's shadow for the entirety of this console generation.

Are you going to "jump in" as the marketing used to say? Let us know on the comments. Or tell me how I'm very wrong and PS5 is amazing (I didn't say it wasn't).

About the Author

Tom Orry avatar

Tom Orry

Editor-in-chief

Tom has been in games media for longer than he cares to think about. He runs VG247 and likes to post articles about what things were like in the old days. Formerly a Football Manager addict, he now spends his free time tweeting about the classic PGR series.

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