MICROSOFT MISSED THE MARK NOT HAVING A PACK-IN TITLE FOR XBOX SERIES X LAUNCH
This practice has largely continued over the years, but seems to have tapered off a bit recently. Having a game to immediately jump into as soon as the system is out of the box gives buyers a sense of anticipation. It also makes giving a next-gen console as a gift a no-brainer — you’ve already got the game handy, so there aren’t any extra purchases required to start playing.
Just as Wii Sports introduced gamers to the Nintendo’s Wii motion controls as a pack-in launch title in 2006, the PS5 comes pre-loaded with the adorable Astro’s Playroom, a playful hybrid of DualSense controller tutorial and friendly platforming game.
Being a free game meant to act primarily as the welcome wagon for new PS5 owners, Astro’s Playroom could easily have lasted an hour or so and done little more than offer ways to try the DualSense’s adaptive triggers or haptic feedback. Instead, the game is a full-fledged adventure that not only feels fulfilling and exciting to play, but presents a heartwarming tribute to the PlayStation brand over the years.
Most importantly, Astro’s Playroom is available straight out of the box without the need to redeem a code or seek out the right version of the game, or needlessly expending any additional energy.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the Xbox Series X|S, despite its competency as a console. Players opened their systems up to, well, nothing, which made for less of a curated experience, especially if they hadn’t been able to purchase a game created specifically for Xbox Series X.
We’re likely years out from the launch of another new console from gaming’s “Big Three” (aside from what Nintendo may or may not have up its sleeve), but the act of including pack-in games is still of importance. Astro’s Playroom specifically makes a great case for continuing this practice, both as a way to show off what the PS5 is capable of and to make things simple for buyers. Pack-ins are a tradition that is still very much integral to a console’s launch, and as long as we’re going to have new systems on the way out, we too should have the games that come with them.
Photo courtesy of Sony Interactive Inc.