Zelnick says both companies are “approaching this launch very aggressively,” but that “in certain parts of the world, Sony had a preferred position last time around.” Much of that comes down to Sony, who had “an advantage on the content side.” Microsoft, however, is said to be “working very, very hard” to ensure that advantage isn’t repeated.
Microsoft has been trying to catch up with Sony’s first-party efforts for a couple of years, announcing at E3 2018 that it had purchased a handful of significant studios to boost its next-gen output, and Zelnick suggests that the company might not be finished. He claims that the Xbox manufacturer is trying to focus on content, and says it could be looking to buy yet more developers - “they have a great balance sheet.”
While Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has received plenty of praise in recent years, Zelnick doesn’t seem convinced by its relevance as we approach next-gen: “I would say I know pretty much for a fact that there will be certain important front-line titles that will not be available on a subscription basis. Those are very much the titles that people buy these platforms for.”
Zelnick also points to Sony’s domination in certain areas, particularly east Asia, but still says that “if I had to guess, I think Microsoft is going to do very well.” As the CEO of a major publishing company, Zelnick is pretty likely to know something we don’t, so the fact that he seems to fancy the Xbox’s chances despite Sony’s content advantage and Game Pass’ variable impact could make for an interesting few months as we learn more about the PS5 and Series X.