PS5/Xbox Series X Rumors, Probabilities, and Eschatology… Not Necessarily in that Order (Matthew 24-25)

We are entering the home stretch now… the infamous Death Star “trench run” phase of the console launch cycle.  At this point Microsoft and Sony are fully committed to their launch strategies even if they are holding their cards EXTREMELY close to their chests as it relates to the date, price, and launch titles for their respective consoles.  But make no mistake about it… behind those closed doors are some serious plans on how each console manufacturer intends to capture the hearts, minds, and (of course) wallets of gamers with their unique offerings.  So without the details we crave, there is nothing left to do but patiently wait, and… well… I suppose we could guess at what they have in mind, couldn’t we?  So without further ado, we are going to make some EXTREMELY uneducated guesses on what the future holds for each of the major consoles.  And if any of these turn out to be correct we will be as surprised as you are…

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RUMOR: Microsoft will be ending it’s Xbox Live Silver and Gold tiers and make multiplayer free for all games

Anyone who watched the Xbox Games Showcase in July could clearly see that the Game Pass service is a core part of Microsoft’s launch strategy for the Series X.  Not only will massive first party offerings such as Halo Infinite and Forza be available through this on-demand gaming service, but a large amount of third party support is present as well from acclaimed developers such as Obsidian.  And with the recent announcement that the multiplayer for Halo Infinite will not require a membership to play, it just seems to line up with a BIG change in regards to how Microsoft approaches online gaming in this next generation.

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Microsoft is putting a lot of eggs in their online basket, and they have been innovators in the multiplayer realm dating back to the advent of the Xbox live service on their first console.  Sony and Nintendo have been chasing Microsoft’s online dominance from day one, and if anyone is going to jump the shark here it simply makes sense that it would be Microsoft.  The Game Pass service to this point has been a great place for older titles and showed a jump in interest when Gears 5 premiered on it’s launch day, but this would be the beginning of Microsoft putting all of their flagship titles on this service on day one.  With such a large commitment, they will HAVE to monetize this both for themselves as well as the third party publishers who are placing their new games on this service.

PROBABILITY: Hmmm.. does Kripsy Kreme taste better when fresh?  Let’s go with EXCEPTIONALLY likely.

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RUMOR: Sony has a major surprise first party game to partner with the PS5 on launch day.

Sony unveiled an incredibly striking design of their new PS5 console and showed some impressive titles along with it, but very little is known of what will actually be PLAYABLE on launch day.  The PS4 clearly dominated this console cycle in terms of units sold, but their launch titles on day one were… let’s just say a little lackluster.  Their big first party titles?  Do you remember Knack or Killzone Shadow Fall?  No?  Well, neither gained much traction in the marketplace and they certainly didn’t exhibit staying power.  And third party support was decent, but lacked any exclusives as core titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Need for Speed: Rivals, Battlefield 4, and more were also available on competing platforms.  As you can see below… that didn’t seem to limit the interest on the system itself…

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The PS4 library didn’t really take off until the heavy hitters landed… God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, Spider-Man, and a host of third party support as well.  And in spite of the fact that most of what we REALLY wanted to play on PlayStation didn’t land until much, MUCH later, Sony’s PlayStation 4 finished a DOMINANT number one in this console cycle.  So what did we learn?  Clearly, Sony doesn’t necessarily feel the pressing need to have huge titles at their launch in order to be successful… they did just fine without it.  So with that being said, there is always a chance that Sony has been secretly much farther in development on their most desired titles than we think.  But it is much more likely that they plan to be just fine without them.  DriveClub 2 anyone?  No?  Good idea… maybe we are all better off that way.

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PROBABILITY: 10%?  Maybe 15%?  Let’s go with the same odds that Syphon Filter will return bigger and better than ever.  Hold onto your chips…

It can be a lot of fun guessing at what the future holds and seeing how these predictions play out.  Does Nintendo have some huge news in the future regarding some of their legacy Mario titles?  VERY likely.  Will Sega make another 3D Sonic game?  For the sake of all the current and future gamers on earth, I certainly hope not.  Will Gran Turismo ever be as good as Forza again?  Can a toy-based franchise like Skylanders, Disney Infinity, or Starlink make a comeback this generation?   Will Bubsy get one last chance to live on this generation of consoles? Quick answers… no, nope, and if God truly has mercy on us definitely not.  The future of gaming can feel like unwrapping Christmas presents that you have been waiting to open for weeks… some good surprises, probably a few disappointments, and something homemade that you have to act like you appreciate even as you start calculating how long it will be until you can make it disappear forever.

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Eschatology is defined as “the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind”… the FUTURE of humanity and the end of days.  Armageddon, the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist, the Second Coming… all those incredibly exciting passages in the Bible having to do with the future are contained within this topic.  And with all of those areas there is no shortage of doctrinal views on the “When”, the “How”, the “Where”, the “Who” of all of these things.

I would guess that there have probably been as many books written on the “End Times” as there have been on every other topic in the Bible combined.  Why?  For one, it can be exceptionally exciting to try to predict the future, just as we saw with our console predictions earlier.  It can also generate spirited and healthy debate, especially when many of the Scriptural references are intentionally vague enough to create opportunities for different viewpoints.  But there is also an inherent danger here… when an incredibly dogmatic perspective is present we run the risk of damaging our fellowship at a minimum, and in the worst scenarios we can mislead people and negatively impact their lives as well as their faith.

How do I know this?  Let me get a little personal… my mother spent her teen years in a constant state of being told that Christ’s return was imminent, to the point that she wasn’t even sure that she would get the opportunity to become old enough to marry and have children.  This same point of view was hammered home throughout my formative years in the church, with the Christian bookstores full of books and videos claiming they had “proof” that Saddam Hussein was the Antichrist, the world would end in the year 2000, and World War III was mere seconds away.  And every time one of these ideas became debunked by reality I could feel my faith in the church, pastors, and even the Bible weaken in response.

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Christ spent a good amount of time talking about heaven, hell, and the end of the world during his time on earth.  The book of Revelation is almost ENTIRELY devoted to the subject of eschatology.  Paul spoke of the end times frequently as well, and always with a sense of urgency.  But these things should not and CAN NOT exist to divide us or distract us.  I have read more books than I can shake a joy-con at claiming to have all the answers, and it is damaging to our faith as well as those we are charged with ministering to when we spread personal interpretations, rumors, and educated guesses as doctrine.

When Christ summed up his message on the end times in Matthew chapters 24-25 he closed out the entire sermon with this simple group of verses…

Matthew 24:44-46 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

Did you catch that?  The servant that is blessed is the one who is found “DOING” the will of God.  All the end times prophecy we can absorb can be exciting to chew on mentally, but the call remains the same… to reach the world for Christ.  We should be ready at ALL times for His coming, but in the meantime we must continue to live each day to the fullest, handling the business that He has given us with our feet firmly planted in the present.  Not convinced?  I have one more for you…

Luke 19:11-13 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I but come.’

Here Jesus is with a group of people who thought that THEIR version of the coming of Christ was imminent.  To address this group of people He shared the parable of the servants who were each given ten minas to invest and utilize until the time of the Master’s return.  This parable could not be more appropriate.  Each of the servants were given the same amount of resources and given a simple command… “Do business till I come”.  The word in Greek here is “pragmateuomai”, which in some Bible versions is translated as “occupy until I come”. This is an active word that implies busying yourself in the act of trading, exchanging, and investing for a gain.

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Let’s unpack this for a moment.  If the servants spent the entire time speculating about when their Master would return, arguing about when He was coming back, or trying to monetize their philosophy on His imminent return, this would not have gone well.  As a matter of fact, the servant who did not do anything useful with the time and resources that he was given lost what he had received.  We are told quite clearly to occupy ourselves with the work of Christ… focusing on fulfilling the Great Commission to save lost souls.

It is fun to guess what the future holds, but so often we are so busy shaking the packages under the Christmas tree to figure out what might be inside that we forget to make sure EVERYONE has a present under the tree.  Christ will return, of that we have no doubt.  Is it this year, this decade, or this century?  Christ HIMSELF doesn’t even have the answer to that, so why would anyone else think they have the solution?

Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

I want to encourage everyone who reads this that Christ’s return truly is a blessed event to look forward to, and I am as excited as anyone else for that day.  But until then, we have each been given a mission as well as resources to reach people for the Lord, and as long as we are on this earth we are still on the mission field.  Rather than waste a lot of time and energy trying to figure out if we are in the middle of a plague, judgment, tribulation, or something else altogether, shouldn’t we be redeeming the time (Ephesians 5:16)?  This is not a time to panic, nor is it a time to hide, and it is CERTAINLY not the time to lock the gates behind our personal views of the end times…it is a time to WORK.  A time to occupy.  A time to build.  A time to grow the Kingdom.  He will come soon enough, and all of our rumors and predictions will not change His timing.  The question is not WHEN is He coming… the question is WHAT are we doing to insure everyone we possibly can reach are ready when He gets here?

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