Sony and Microsoft are currently planning the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two behind closed doors, and Nintendo is reportedly already responding to this with the release of the NX console later this year. This new video game system has been linked with many interesting possibilities, including the ability to source PlayStation games from Sony.
Regardless of the truth or otherwise of these rumors, most video games aficionados will view the Microsoft and Sony offerings as the true next generation consoles. And thus console gamers are eagerly awaiting any news about when we can expect the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two be released.
Pachter moots 2019 release
There have already been numerous estimates on this subject, but in the last few days another analyst threw his hat into the ring. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter believes that some of the previous estimates which suggest that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two may appear in 2018 are wide of the mark. Pachter instead asserts that one of the consoles could arrive in 2019, with the possibility that release dates will be staggered in the next console generation.
This was something that previously occurred in the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 generation, during which Microsoft was able to achieve a significant advantage over Sony simply by releasing its console well ahead of the PlayStation 3. But Pachter does believe that both the existing PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be replaced by sequels by the end of this decade.
If these predictions turn out to be correct, it would mean that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One would have lifespans of approximately seven years. Usually, once next generation machines are released, their predecessors last another three years or so; essentially indicating that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will have a ten-year life-cycle overall. This is very much in line with previous precedent in the industry, and perhaps makes more sense than the 2018 release date which has been mentioned previously.
Microsoft to release Xbox Two first
In terms of which one of the two consoles may appear first, one hardly needs to be Nostradamus in order to make a prediction. The reason that Nintendo is releasing a next generation machine well ahead of Sony and Microsoft is due to the fact that it is flagging miles behind its competitors in terms of installed units. Thus, with Microsoft struggling to make an impression in the current console generation, it would make obvious sense for the software giant to replace the Xbox One as soon as possible.
Sony is in the privileged position of completely dominating the existing console market, and it can thus afford the luxury of assessing its rival from a distance, while simultaneously planning the internal specifications of the PlayStation 5.
Although the relative delay in the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two may be considered something of a disappointment, it is also worth reflecting that existing console owners will at least get more usage from their systems. Arguably, neither the PlayStation 4 nor the Xbox One has delivered the pinnacle of the current generation’s capabilities as of yet, and numerous major titles are yet to appear on either console.
Hotly anticipated games
For example, we have yet to witness a current generation exclusive Grand Theft Auto title, and the hotly anticipated Gran Turismo Sport has yet to emerge on the PlayStation 4 either. There will probably also be a sequel to the hugely successful and critically acclaimed The Last of Us before the console generation is out. And games manufactures are continuing to unlock the potential of the existing consoles at present.
Another interesting aspect of the existing console landscape is the introduction of virtual reality technology, and it is expected that this will play a central role in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two generation. Media reports have indicated that the PlayStation VR project is ready for release in the next few months, and it will be intriguing to see whether Sony is able to achieve the sort of market penetration with this innovation that it will be hoping for.
PlayStation VR challenges
There are some inherent problems in establishing virtual reality technology for manufacturers of consoles. Firstly, The price of the PlayStation VR helmet will dismay many gamers, and casual gamers in particular, and it can be said with reasonable confidence that consoles tend to attract this sort of consumer.
Sony is then faced with the problem of attracting games manufacturers to produce killer titles for a machine that only has a very small installed user base. This will then have the knock-on effect on the number of consumers willing to upgrade to the new virtual reality technology, even though the manufacturers of Gran Turismo Sport have already confirmed that it will be virtual reality-compatible.
So if Sony was able to offer some sort of tie-in with the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation VR helmet then it could be hugely helpful for the success of the technology.
PlayStation 5 / Xbox Two issues
Aside from this, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two console generation is likely to be defined by the shifting demands and technology of the industry. Perhaps the most important aspects of the next generation consoles is that they both deliver true 4K gaming. PCs are already beginning to provide 4K games, and the increasing prominence of this technology in both home cinema and television releases will mean that 4K is probably a mainstream technology by 2019 when the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two are mooted for release.
In addition, Sony and Microsoft have conundrums to solve with regard to streaming technology, subscription models and disc-based gaming. With consoles being attacked on all sides by other forms of technology, it seems certain that both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two will need to be significantly more flexible than previous console releases.
Regardless of this, it seems possible based on the predictions of Pachter that Sony and Microsoft will have longer to solve the next generation console problems than has been suggested previously.