Sony has enjoyed a particularly golden generation with the PlayStation 4, but what can we expect from the PlayStation 5?
PlayStation 5 – 4K emphasis
One of the first elements of this next generation console that Sony is likely to address is 4K resolution compatibility. This is theoretically possible with the existing PlayStation 4, but limitations of the hardware effectively mean that the prospect of 4K gaming with the PS4 is unthinkable.
By the time that the PlayStation 5 is released, which is generally considered to be around 2020 according to analysts, 4K resolution technology should be a mainstream reality in people’s lives. There will certainly be an expectation for both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two that these next generation systems will deliver true 4K gaming, and Sony will already be planning the internal specifications required in order to achieve this.
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Another major aspect of the video games industry that will be prominent by the time that 2020 rolls round is virtual reality gaming. Numerous companies, including Sony itself, are currently working on virtual reality systems, and these are expected to become extremely popular in the next few years.
Thus, Sony will have to consider whether it builds in some sort of VR capabilities as standard, and to what extent it embraces virtual reality when the PlayStation 5 is released. Sony’s own Project Morpheus technology is due for release in 2016, at least according to optimistic estimates, and this will hopefully mean that by the time the PlayStation 5 is released that the virtual reality project is established as being successful.
Video game streaming has become massive in every sense of the word, with services such as Twitch attracting millions of viewers on a daily basis, not to mention the rampant success of YouTube video game channels. But another aspect of streaming that is important for the future direction of the industry is the ability to stream games live.
This is already being offered by the PlayStation Now service, but the capabilities of video game streaming should have improved significantly by the time that 2020 rolls round. There are always issues related to broadband speeds with such a project, particularly if Sony is looking to seriously embrace 4k gaming, as indeed it should. But it could be possible for Sony to launch the PlayStation 5 with some sort of live streaming service in place, ensuring an entirely different video games model to the one that has operated for decades.
Speaking of which, Sony also has to decide what the future of disc-based gaming is in its consoles. It seems certain that consumers would prefer for some form of physical media to remain part of the video gaming experience, and Sony will certainly take this into consideration. It will not have escaped the attention of the corporation that the main reason for the success of the PlayStation 4, certainly in the early days of the console, was the fact that the company listened closely to customers, something that Microsoft manifestly failed to do.
So the smart money would be on console games to remain on discs for the time being, but Sony may at least wish to offer gamers the opportunity to experience console gaming without ever needing to purchase a physical disc. This is already theoretically possible, but it must be said that Sony hasn’t really delivered downloadable games in a particularly flexible or affordable format. It is pretty scandalous that downloads still cost more than physical games, and Sony must surely address this if it is to encourage gamers to move away from the physical medium model.
Early release date?
One recent rumor related to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two is that one or both of the consoles could be released in the next couple of years. This would mean that one of the Sony or Microsoft consoles currently available would have had a pretty short shelf-life, but there are rational reasons to believe that this is possible.
With hardware evolving rapidly, and 4K resolution technology already available for television and movies, both of these consoles are becoming somewhat out of date. This could put pressure on Sony and Microsoft to advance the release of their next generation consoles. But there is certainly less pressure on Sony to do this considering that the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One comfortably.
In order for video games consoles to stay ahead of other possible gaming platforms, it is essential for both Sony and Microsoft to offer more than merely video games machines. Thus, one suggestion related to the PlayStation 5 is that it could focus on improved music streaming and playback. Spotfiy is already available on the PS4, but Sony has gone backwards with CD playability, at a time when Apple is investing strongly in music. The PlayStation 5 could thus be presented as a major music player and streamer from day one.