Sony has made insane waves since its debut in the console market way back in 1994. The original PlayStation began life as a collaboration between Sony and Nintendo, and was originally supposed to be a CD addon for the latter’s SNES console. Eventually, this deal fell through, and Sony created the PlayStation, the first major disc-based gaming console (there had been others, but none quite as successful). The rest, as they say, is history, and since then Sony has gone from strength to strength with each new numbered iteration of its PlayStation series.
We’re halfway through 2019, and the PlayStation 5, while it hasn’t technically been officially announced, is definitely in development. What, then, can we expect from this new stage of Sony’s console gaming endeavour? How will the PlayStation 5 change the gaming landscape? What kind of games can we expect for it? Some of our PlayStation 5 questions have definitive answers, while others are further into the realm of speculation. Join us as we take a look at what we know about the PlayStation 5, what we can reasonably guess, and what we’re yet to learn. It’s going to be an exciting console, that’s for sure.
In a recent interview with Wired, PS5 lead architect Mark Cerny confirmed the bad news all PlayStation fans have been expecting: we won’t be seeing the PlayStation 5 in 2019 at the very least. Sony didn’t show up to this year’s E3, so we didn’t get any information about the console at that event either. With all that in mind, it’s probably not reasonable to expect a release for the PS5 until 2020. Any later and Sony would probably be waiting too long, especially given that Microsoft actually did unveil their PS5 competitor at this year’s E3.
So, when exactly in 2020 should we expect Sony’s console? Analyst Hideki Yasuda believes the PS5 will be released in November 2020. He also thinks the console will have a $500 price tag. That places it just within the right range of affordability while still offering the next-gen technology customers will expect. November makes a lot of sense, too; although the PS3 was delayed, the PlayStation 4 launched in the West in November, as did the PS2. PlayStation consoles are pretty popular Christmas presents, so Sony wanting to get their console out in time for the Christmas rush is logical.
Thanks to Cerny, we know a little bit about what kind of hardware the PlayStation 5 will be running under its hood. The processor will be a custom AMD chip which features eight cores, each of which is built with AMD’s proprietary 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Sony likely expects this to be able to cope with even the most demanding loading times and processor-intensive features of games so that developers can build their titles without worrying about whether the console is capable of sufficiently running them. The PS4 also featured AMD tech for its processor, so Sony sticking with this company isn’t a surprise.
While we don’t know how much RAM the console will have, the PlayStation 4 featured 4GB of GDDR5 unified memory. With that in mind, the PS5 will probably have 16GB. It’s entirely possible Sony will stick with an 8GB configuration; it entirely depends on how much they expect the PS5 to be able to multitask. However, given that it’s possible to quickly and easily switch between games and applications on the PS4, more memory is likely needed for its successor in order to maintain this function. We’re betting on 16GB. As for display, Cerny says the PS5 will definitely play games in 4K. It’ll probably also feature 8K upscaling.
Thanks to Cerny, we know the PS5 will definitely be backwards compatible with PS4 games. Since the console is based on its predecessor’s architecture (at least in part), the PS5 will come readily equipped with the capability of playing PS4 games. That’s very exciting news for people with a library they don’t want to part with; you won’t need to hook your PS4 back up if you want to play some of your favourite games on it again. It might mean that enhanced versions of late-period PS4 games are a little more scarce than perhaps they could or should be, but we think that’s a very small price to pay in return for the kind of backwards compatibility we want.
Whether the console will be able to play games from previous PlayStation generations is not something Sony has been vocal about. Back in February, the games giant filed a patent that supposedly allows the console to mimic the behaviour of its predecessors using its multi-processor setup. In essence, you’re looking at a console that’s capable of emulating previous consoles. This could lead to PS3, PS2, and even PS1 backwards compatibility, which we would love. No time like the present to revisit that copy of Vagrant Story, eh?
Back in April, a couple of images were leaked showing something that purported to be the PlayStation 5’s dev kit. The images also show what could be the PS5’s controller. Take this with a very healthy pinch of salt; Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, known for being a fairly reliable source in the world of gaming journalism, says the images are fake. The Wired interview describes the dev kit the site saw during their time with Cerny; it’s a large silver tower with no visible componentry. Fairly common for games console manufacturers to play their cards close to their chest when it comes to developer kits.
There was also a Reddit post a while back detailing what could be some of the features of the PS5’s dev kit. Supposedly, Sony is working hard to create a dev kit that features a seamlessly integrated PS VR device. Sony wants to push VR technology when it comes to their new console, and they’re making sure all developers know that VR is a function they want to build in. As such, the PS5’s dev kit emphasises VR, and all developers will be able to build VR functionality straight into their games without worrying about retrofitting the tech. Again, take this with a pinch of salt, but it could be legit.
We don’t know a massive amount about what the PS5 will actually feature in terms of software functionality. We know, of course, that it will be able to play games. We also know it’ll have a physical media drive, which points to the capability to play Blu-ray discs. As such, it looks like Sony doesn’t want to position itself in direct competition with Microsoft’s recent discless Xbox One console. This makes a lot of sense; although digital gaming is on the rise, many console gamers still prefer physical media for their games.
Sony is pushing VR hard, so expect the PS5 to sync up beautifully with the existing VR hardware you may already have for your PS4. Obviously, Sony will be developing a successor to this headset at some point in the future. In the Wired interview, however, Cerny is quite cagey about Sony’s VR strategy. The company is heavily focused on it, but for now it looks like the existing PS VR headset will be more than enough to play VR-compatible PS5 games. As for software – UI, primary software functionality, online, etc – we just don’t know at this stage.
Naturally, Sony’s biggest competitor in the console field is Microsoft, as it’s been since the Xbox 360 and PS3 duked it out. Like the PS5, Xbox Scarlett (as it’s currently codenamed) will have real-time ray tracing and will feature third-gen Ryzen CPU tech. It’s looking likely that Microsoft and Sony’s machines will both have quite similar tech inside them, so the console war this time will come down to two things: games and gimmicks. Whichever console captures gamers’ hearts and nails the zeitgeist will win the console war.
There’s also Nintendo, of course. The Switch remains an incredibly popular and widespread device. Nintendo won’t be looking to compete directly with Sony; this hasn’t been their strategy since the days of the GameCube. Instead, the company will look to install a Switch in the house of every gamer who also has a PS5 or an Xbox Scarlett. Perhaps the biggest worry Sony has right now is Google Stadia. This streaming console is promising high-fidelity 4K gaming without the need for powerful hardware. If the dream is true, Sony should probably start preparing for a prolonged battle with the Mountain View software titans.
Ah, the games. These are the battlegrounds on which wars are won and lost. There are some very obvious games on the way for the PS5 and some outside possibilities. Games like Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding and The Last of Us Part 2 are all but guaranteed for Sony’s console. Although these are also launching on PS4, they’re shoo-ins for some kind of enhanced edition when Sony’s next-gen console launches. Alongside these games, expect a new instalment in the Uncharted franchise as well as the usual suspects (Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, et cetera).
Now let’s think about what could be coming to get you excited. We’d really like to see a sequel to From Software’s Bloodborne, although we’re willing to accept it’s unlikely at this point. That said, if Sony hands over the cash, it’s unlikely From Software would reject the offer. A followup to God of War is inevitable; indeed, head honcho Cory Barlog has already said the followup won’t take another 5 years to develop. It’s almost impossible, therefore, that God of War 2 – or whatever it ends up being called – won’t be a PS5 title. It probably won’t be a launch game, but you can expect it within the first year or so of the console’s lifespan.
The Most Exciting Leaks
We’re seriously hyped about the claims Mark Cerny makes in the Wired interview. The PlayStation 5’s solid state drive (SSD) will supposedly cut loading times drastically. Cerny showed off a Spider-Man demo in which a city that took 15 seconds to load on the PS4 now takes less than one second on the PS5’s dev kit. Remember, that’s a dev kit that’s running a “slow” version of the finished hardware. The possibilities here are seriously exciting. What open-world environments can we look forward to on Sony’s new console?
There’s also the fact that the PS5 will run real-time ray tracing on its graphics card. This means the visuals of games will, in theory, be drastically improved. Ray tracing simulates real objects by running paths of light in real-time. Imagine the possibilities for games like those made by Quantic Dream or Rockstar. Dramas will come to life, environments will breathe, and monsters will be rendered in breathtaking, terrifying detail. We think the PS5 is going to represent the future when it comes to gaming, and we couldn’t be more excited.
According to a text file leaked onto Pastebin, the PlayStation 5 will probably cost around $500. It’s very difficult to imagine Sony pricing the console much higher, since a significantly greater price would alienate consumers and open the door for Microsoft to price their console extremely competitively. Of course, at a cost of $500, the PS5 probably won’t be profitable for Sony on its own. Many games companies do sell their consoles at a loss to attract investment, making money on first-party games, peripherals, and other things that are profitable.
We don’t yet know what the ancillary parts of the PS5 – controller, other peripherals, et cetera – will look like, so we’re not sure how much those will cost. If, like rumoured, the PS5’s controller has an OLED touch screen built into it, expect the cost to jump significantly. The RRP of the DualShock 4 is £49.99, so there’s almost no chance the DualShock 5 could cost any less than this; in fact, it’ll probably cost more. PS VR 2 will also likely set you back a fair whack of your cash.
Sony’s refusal to attend E3 presents a unique and interesting situation. We aren’t likely to hear anything about the new console at 2020’s conference, unless Sony significantly reverses its position. The company is shifting towards a model that emphasises fewer games on a bigger scale, which means it won’t have huge things to announce each year. Still, if a new console is on the way, one would think Sony would want a big stage on which to announce it.
It’s not totally unfeasible for Sony to show up at 2020’s E3 conference to announce the PS5. If the company sticks to its guns, you’ll probably see an announcement for the PS5 on State of Play or a similar direct-to-consumer presentation. If not, then 2020’s E3 is going to be a significant event for the PS5. With great games on the way, significantly more powerful hardware, and the promise of 8K gaming, the PS5 looks like it’s going to take some beating.