Although the current console generation clearly has several years still to run, many gamers are nonetheless looking forward to the PlayStation 5. There are obvious reasons for this, aside from the fact that gamers typically relish new technology anyway.
Next gen needed
The current generation PlayStation 4 has not exactly been a disappointment, by the same tokenit is acknowledged that it is already falling behind technologically. And the PlayStation 5 is set to deliver numerous new technologies and gaming experiences that will once more update the entire concept of what a console delivers.
But ahead of the release of the PlayStation 5, some surprising and eye-catching rumours are already developing. Some analysts believe that we may secretly be getting the PlayStation 5 this year, with industry insiders believing that the PlayStation VR headset due for release this year is far more than an add-on to the existing PlayStation 4 experience.
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No PlayStation 5 console?
It is increasingly suggested that the virtual reality products that Sony has in mind for the next 12 months represent a soft-launch for the PlayStation 5. It was reported this week that Sony has patented a special virtual reality glove system, and it is notable in the details of this technology that it is suited to being a standalone system.
And this has perhaps fuelled the fire of the theory that the PlayStation VR and glove-based technology could collectively represent a new video games system that runs exclusively through the cloud. With the PlayStation VR headset due for release in 2016, and the technology clearly available at Sony to implement the glove-based technology right now, Analysts believe that this could be the gateway to the PlayStation 5 in 2016.
Sony’s patent for these systems state that the computer required could be a “network device, such as a router”, effectively meaning that players could access games directly via the cloud on either headset or gloves, without requiring an attendant PlayStation 5 console. This would effectively mean that the headset and gloves combination emerges as a new type of futuristic console, eliminating the need for a machine to be based under the television set.
Instead, this VR technology will enable processing to be carried out over the cloud, leading analysts to suggest that the new virtual reality systems will follow the first part of a multi-part PlayStation 5. The virtual reality headset will softly launch in 2016, paving the way for a glove controller later down the line, and eventually a revamped online gaming network based in the cloud, competing a entirely new PlayStation 5 puzzle.
However, certainly not everyone agrees with this conclusion, but what it does emphasize is that online gaming systems could form a significant part of the PlayStation 5 portfolio. This is certainly something that is almost universally predicted by analysts, considering that Sony has already established a successful PlayStation Now system.
What we are definitely likely to see when the PlayStation 5 is released is that the existing PlayStation Now service is extended to ensure that ever more complex and advanced titles can be streamed from day one. At present, PlayStation Now remains relatively limited, but with technological improvements coming rapidly, it is possible that Sony will focus on ensuring that PlayStation Now can extreme PS5 titles out of the box. At the very least, it should be possible for the service to deliver PlayStation 4 titles via streaming.
One aspect of the PlayStation 5 that Sony is certain to address is the inclusion of 4K gaming. This is becoming an increasingly mainstream part of the technology landscape, with the British broadcaster Sky having just announced a 4K-enabled set-top box. The existing PlayStation 4 certainly lacks the power to ever even conceivably deliver 4K gaming, and this is something that Sony must ensure with the PlayStation 5, particularly as some PC gamers are already enjoying this screen resolution.
Despite the importance of streaming in the next generation of video games, it is largely anticipated that the PlayStation 5 will retain the physical disc drive when it is released. It is possible that some form of 4K disc will be available by the time that the PlayStation 5 goes live, and it is notable that Sony has already made a significant amount of currency from offering its PlayStation consoles as low-cost DVD and Blu-ray players. It is likely to follow suit with the PlayStation 5 in this department.
What could easily occur with the PlayStation 5, however, is that Sony could ensure that consumers are offered more flexibility. This is extremely common in consumer electronics products such as smartphones, and particularly the recent Apple Watch, but consoles have never previously followed this model, and certainly not in their early days of release.
But Sony could possibly release a more affordable version of the PlayStation 5 without a disc drive, ensuring that consumers can purchase a cheaper console for which downloading games is mandatory. Other options could also be provided to consumers from day one, with a large hard drive version of the console possible, and perhaps a greater emphasis placed on compactness than in previous releases.
Although the virtual reality focus of the PlayStation 5 is ultimately unlikely to result in the console not appearing at all, it could have a massive influence on when the system is launched. Analysts have already pointed out that Sony will effectively be releasing a machine into the marketplace to compete with its already successful PlayStation 4, and it has no need to do this when it is wiping out Microsoft efficiently in the existing climate.
The virtual reality systems that Sony has planned for 2016 could effectively represent a stopgap between the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, ensuring that the consumer electronics giant creates a new revenue stream, and produces a PlayStation 5 console worthy of being considered a next generation contender.
So a relatively early launch date of 2018 has been suggested to be wide of the mark, and it is perhaps more realistic to expect the PlayStation 5 to launch somewhere towards the end of the decade, or possibly even into 2020.