Yes. Most likely, yes there will be a PlayStation 6. There is your short answer, and unlike its rival Xbox with Microsoft’s unpredictable branding, the next console in Sony’s line will very likely be called the PlayStation 6. So fear not, even though the PS5 is only now being launched, there will eventually be another PlayStation to meet your gaming needs based on what we already know. With that in mind, it is human nature to want the next thing. Even with the eminent launch of the PS5, we understand the desire to dream ahead and speculate when the PS6 will be upon us and what we can expect from it.
Let’s dream together…
Looking Back and Looking Ahead – When Can We Expect a PS6?
To understand when to expect the PS6, it is necessary to delve into the history of the PlayStation in order to get a clearer view of a potential future. The PlayStation was created by Sony and originally released in December 1994 in Japan, then worldwide the following year. The PlayStation 2 was released on the turn of the century, 6 years later in 2000. The PlayStation 3 was then released another 6 years later in, you guessed it, 2006. Already there is a trend developing here with the next generation of console being released on a 6 year cycle. However, the PlayStation 4 released in 2013; increasing the gap between consoles from 6 to 7 years. A small but statistically relevant piece of data as the launch of the PS5 is taking place in 2020 meaning the last two console launches have taken place 7 years apart as opposed to 6 years.
Now this could mean a couple different things. The first thing is that the launch of the PS6 will be in approximately 6 to 7 years, taking an average of the previous releases would indicate this. However, the statistics could also prove Sony’s attempt at lengthening the life-cycle of their consoles with each new generation. Meaning Sony could be looking to squeeze as much life out of their latest console, thus pushing back the date of the PS6 launch to 8+ years. This may come as unwanted news to some of you but it would make sense to push more and more space between the launch of new consoles. It has been reported that Sony are making a loss on the PS5’s hardware, so often is the case that consoles undercut the market on hardware and maximise profits elsewhere such as online subscription fees. So with Sony cutting their losses on state of the art hardware upon launch opens the opportunity for the PS5 hardware to remain competitive well into its lifespan.
We also saw the launch of the PS4 Pro in 2016, 3 years after the original PS4 was released. This may be another contributing factor when it comes to the console’s lifespan. If Sony decide to do something similar with the PS5 and bring out an improved console in several years time then expect the reign of the PS5 to last for at least as long as the PS4, if not more.
Another thing to consider when predicting the arrival of the PS6 is the leaps in technological advancement made between each console generation. When comparing the original PlayStation to the PS2 and the PS3, looking at the games released on both consoles, the difference is notable. Take EA Sport’s FIFA franchise as a useful marker. Player models look strikingly different on the PS1 compared to the FIFA titles released on the PS2. There is a somewhat of a graphical upgrade on FIFA titles going into the PS3 era but it tends to become less and less significant as time goes on. Compare this to the PS4 player models and the margin is even smaller.
The issue here is that even though Sony may make claims such as the ‘PS4 [being] roughly 10 times as powerful as the PS3’, few would argue that it actually looks 10 times better. In the image above, the need for new hardware is obvious between the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2. Just look at poor Messi’s jagged jawline and boxy hair seen in the image representing the original PlayStation. But by the time you get to the PS3 and the PS4 the jump up in graphics just is not the same.
All of this leads to the assumption that the lifespan for the PS5 is looking potentially longer and longer. Perhaps the need and desire for graphical upgrades just is not the same anymore. As long as the hardware of the PS5 fulfils the capabilities and scope of the current game developers then the PS5 could be here to stay and the PS6’s release date may be placed further into the future.
Take one of Sony’s rivals, Nintendo. Nintendo have shown that hardware is not everything with their most recent console, the Nintendo Switch, having far less to offer in terms of power. The Switch also offers itself as a handheld console, a market Sony have dabbled in before but would most likely be a side-project not affecting the release of the PS6 if Sony were to release a new handheld console. Nintendo have often done things a bit differently when it comes to console releases, as a result they probably are not considered to be Sony’s main rival in the console wars. Nintendo’s innovative ways are unlikely to shake up the console market and force Sony to release a whacky alternative PS6 any time soon. No, instead it is Microsoft and Xbox that are considered to be Sony’s main rival. Like a console themed space-race, Sony and Microsoft push each other to produce bigger and better consoles all the while. It is their continued rivalry that will set the tone for Sony’s inevitable new PS6 release in years to come.
Overall then, hardware-wise it is difficult to predict. Hardware will continue to improve as always but the results on screen have been a little less obvious to some. This in turn may decrease the demand for a new console. The PlayStation consoles have however shown a relatively steady launch cycle, but the pattern could be on an upwards curve when it comes to the length between new generation launches. It is difficult to make any certain claims, although one thing is certain that as long as there is rivalry and consumers to be appeased then we will get a PS6 most likely within a similar timespan to previous console releases. As always, the question has been a case of when, not if. We shall have to wait and see when that is.