Last week had a double dose of next-gen news for PlayStation fans. First, we heard that the PlayStation 4 was in its final lifecycle and that Playstation 5 dev kits were out already, then two days later, we get the news that Sony has no plans for a PlayStation 5 before 2021. So what’s the most likely outcome here?
The Down Low
With E3 around the corner, this type of information juggling is to be expected. Every gaming site out there is trying to predict what’s going to appear (or not appear) at the massive industry event. But it’s important at this point to cut through the excitement and apply the realism microscope to these rumours.
PlayStation 4 is less than 5 years old, and PS4 Pro is less than 2. PS4 Pro brought Sony into the 4k realm and offered up a worthy competition to the Xbox One X. It also allows developers and publishers to dabble in VR, which is still fairly untested in the marketplace. Sony will want to see if there’s money to be made in VR, as if this is the medium of the future, it will naturally feature heavily in development for the PlayStation 5. If, however, VR flops in this current generation( or, pulls a “Kinect”), they can freely develop the PS5 with little to no VR support.
We also need to consider their recent console sales history. 2017 saw 19 million PS4s ship worldwide. A drop on the 20 million of the previous year, but still a significant sales figure regardless. Even with similar drops in sale over the next few years predicted, every major developer and publisher will be eager to squeeze the life out of this generations consoles before having to relearn a new architecture for the next generation.
Sony took a dump with the PlayStation 3. It was a disaster, with a net loss on every console sold until nearly 2 years after the console’s release. They will want to avoid this happening again at all cost. The simplest way? Make the PlayStation 5 an absolute necessity for gamers worldwide.
At the minute this just won’t be the case. The hardware simply hasn’t developed at a fast enough rate. A PlayStation 5 released this year or next would simply be an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4. With PS4 Pro games still looking sublime(God of War!), a newer console wouldn’t have the jump in quality to make gamers want to part with their cash. GPU and CPU progress is definitely slowing down. With the recent release of GDRR6 RAM, we are waiting to see if that will be the way memory goes, or if it will merely be stepping stone to the next, faster memory form.
“We will use the next three years to prepare the next step, to crouch down so that we can jump higher in the future,”
– Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera
So there ya have it. Much ado about nothing, as old Willy Shakes(that’s William Shakespeare btw), would say. Expect a PlayStation 5 alright, but not any time soon. The PS4 and One X still have plenty to offer in exceptional titles, and VR may well be the future, or it could be this generations…well, VR really.