While it hasn’t been the best time for Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) financially, with its mobile phone division posting massive losses, one crumb of comfort for the Japanese corporation has been the success of its PlayStation 4 video games console. Sony seems to have hugely benefited from really listening to what consumers wanted with this eighth-generation video games console, and has been rewarded by outselling Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Xbox One system by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1 worldwide.

PlayStation 5: What To Expect?
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PlayStation 5: Staying ahead of the curve

But Sony will not be sitting on his laurels, and in a marketplace which is as fast-moving as video games, staying ahead of the curve is always absolutely essential. Just ask Sega; within a matter of a few years the now video games developer went from being an absolutely major player in the video games console manufacturing market, to being eliminated from it completely due to the failure of the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast consoles.

Thus, Sony will already be thinking about when it will introduce the PlayStation 5. In the video games market, whether or not you produce a sequel to an existing console is pretty much dependent on market forces. But the success of the PlayStation 4 guarantees that there will be a PlayStation 5. Although cloud-based gaming and other technology such as Valve’s Steam Box has suggested that the console’s days may ultimately be numbered, at this point in time it doesn’t look as if this will develop fast enough for the eighth-generation to be the death knell for consoles.

PlayStation 5: Death of the disc

Additionally, both Sony and Microsoft appear to have plans for the next generation of video games consoles which will enable their devices to remain relevant. There is already speculation that both the PlayStation 5 and whatever Microsoft decides to name the next Xbox in its range, will ship without a disc drive. The death of physical media has of course been predicted for many years, and usually prematurely! But with Internet speeds increasing, and obvious incentives for video game developers to phase out the old-fashioned disc, it is possible that the PlayStation 4 might be the last Sony console to accept physical media.

In-line with this, Sony might be looking to develop and improve its online services, including its PlayStation Now technology. At this point in time, broadband speeds don’t really seem to be sufficient to support cloud-based gaming, or any form of gaming which is completely reliant on streaming over a server. But these will actually increase in the near future, and eventually it does seem inevitable that disks will be defunct.

It is also thought that the PlayStation 5 will launch in a relatively short period of time into the future compared with previous console generations. There are several reasons for this, not least the disk dilemma, but another major consideration is the fact that both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One just aren’t all that powerful.

Unquestionably, the Sony PlayStation 4 provides a significantly improved gaming experienced over the PlayStation 3. It can quite simply slickly carry out all of the tasks that the PlayStation 3 used to struggle to deal with. But its spec and capabilities don’t really compare to a high-end PC, and of course computers will develop further in terms of internal specifications in the coming years.

PlayStation 5: Dealing with 4K

Although the PlayStation 4 is theoretically able to deal with 4K video, in reality this is a physical impossibility. There is no way that the processor in the PS4 will ever be able to render 4K content in an acceptable fashion. So as this becomes a more prominent resolution, it is possible that content produced by the PS4 will look increasingly dated.

Additionally, the ability of the PS4 to deal with the Project Morpheus virtual reality technology that Sony is currently developing will obviously be considerably less than that of PCs. The Oculus Rift project could leave Morpheus looking rather pale by comparison, and this will be a major consideration if virtual reality gaming takes off in the next few years.

So when we consider the make-up of the PS5, these trends and issues will be strongly reflected in its portfolio of features and specifications. Firstly, we can expect the PS5 to launch in around 2020. It is possible that the device may even hit the stores before then, but this generation of consoles can expect to be replaced in around 5 to 6 years.

Features in the PlayStation 5 will very much reflect the world it will be coming into. This could be a cloud storage-based console with no disc drive, which is APU driven. The ability of the PlayStation 5 to deal with 4K video will be absolutely key, and thus the dedicated graphics chips and processor included in the device will be mega-powerful. This will also assist the ability of the console to deal with virtual reality.

By the time 2020 comes round, gaming and consoles could be very different beast from what we’re accustomed to.