(Pocket-lint) - Xbox, after the false start of its first set of Series X gameplay trailers, has finally taken the wraps off some properly enticing next-generation exclusives, and on the surface of it things look rosy.
If there was one universally impressive thing about the Games Showcase, it was the fact that viewers could be confident that every single game shown would come to Xbox Game Pass as part of its flat membership fee, a proposition that's unmatched by anything Sony has mustered.
The presentation made it clear for the umpteenth time that Microsoft is betting the gaming house on Game Pass, and it's a package that offers unparalleled value at the moment.
Yet, for all that, when it comes to the jump to next-gen, there's still a mighty dilemma facing most gamers. On the one hand you have Xbox, with Game Pass promising a bevvy of games, some great and many good, that you'll be able to play at little cost down the years.
On the other, you have Sony, with a more traditional offering that inescapably has offered up a markedly superior set of exclusives in recent years, promising to continue in the same vein.
That's not a battle as easily won as Microsoft might be hoping, especially when you survey the lukewarm reception with which Halo Infinite's first gameplay footage had been met. An all-encompassion vision of a gaming service that you can rely on to work across your phone, your old console, your PC and your Series X is enticing, but it does rather the beg the question of why exactly you need the new hardware.
By comparison, when Naughty Dog's first full PlayStation 5 game comes out you can guarantee it'll push the visual envelope in ways that sell systems. Take cross-platform stalwarts like FIFA and Call of Duty out of the picture, and Sony's surely ahead on points.
A clear message is needed
To many less involved observers, the small differences in hardware won't matter - whether Xbox has the gigaflop advantage or Sony's SSD is faster is blurry compared to the idea that they're both next-gen consoles that will make games look better.
Microsoft clearly hankers after a clear message that puts across just how good a deal Game Pass is and how it should be why you invest in a new Xbox. But, from its marketing to the still-obscure name of its console, it's still prone to muddying the waters in a way that Sony has so far largely avoided.
The Game Pass gambit could still pay off, and it's certainly a cracking deal even at present, but in the long run, there's no guarantee that it's the power-up to help Microsoft claw back the ground it lost to Sony across this generation.