UPDATE: 09-20-2017: As gamers eagerly await news on the PlayStation 5, the views of industry insiders have conflicted somewhat in recent days. And one particular expert from Electronic Arts has suggested that the Sony console may not appear whatsoever.

No PlayStation 5?

Chris Evenden told interested observers at the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference that the physical console model may disappear in the immediate future. Evenden instead believes that streaming services delivered via smart televisions may be the way forward for the gaming industry.

“I think it’s inevitable that the gaming entertainment world will move in much the same way that the music and video entertainment worlds have already moved, in the sense that people have moved from an ownership model to an access model. You’ll see that in gaming, just as you’ve seen it with Spotify and Netflix in other media businesses,” Evenden commented.

Sony PlayStation 5
christianladewig0 / Pixabay

While many gamers may be opposed to this concept, the remarks are nonetheless rather unsurprising. There has been speculation for some time that the video gaming industry may move to a streaming and subscription model in the foreseeable future, and the Electronic Arts employee believes that this will happen sooner rather than later.

Subscription model

Notably, EA already delivers an Origins service on PC and EA Access on Xbox One. And Evenden believes that such platforms will become more significant in the next few years, as technology develops. Sony and Microsoft have already launched streaming services for games, based on a subscription model, and Evenden expects this to be the shape of the industry going forward.

“That infrastructure barrier is still there, but it’s shrinking very rapidly. And we think in the next couple of years, you’ll see some major technological announcements that will prove to be commercially significant in the next three to five years,” the E a executive commented.

The executive also suggested that the subscription model would ultimately work out better for the consumer, although many gamers may be rather sceptical about this assertion.

“Right now if you want to play FIFA in the United States, it will cost you $460. You have to buy the game; you have to buy the console. In a streaming world, it could be $9.99 a month. The commercial details have to be worked out, but whatever number it ends up at is very much less than $460. So that extends your market, because all you need locally is literally a smart TV,” Evenden stated.

However, these comments are rather disingenuous when one considers that every game would cost $120 to own for a year, whereas currently gamers can purchase a title indefinitely for a maximum fee of $60, and often less than this. Additionally, such physical games have resale value.

Furthermore, EA has been one of the most criticized companies in the world, guilty of using downloadable content and subscriptions to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars, often from young people of modest means. Many will therefore be sceptical about any significant figure at EA suggesting that they are in favor of making games more affordable for consumers.

Sony comments

Nonetheless, despite the opinions of Electronic Arts, which must be taken seriously, Sony has recently indicated that the PlayStation 5 will eventually be released. Regardless of whether game developers are enthusiastic about the concept of physical hardware, Sony’s Shawn Layden has already stated that the gaming mega-corporation is working on the sequel to the PlayStation 4 internally.

But Layden also stated that it will be some time before the PlayStation 5 is released, indicating that reports in the media suggesting that a 2018 launch is possible are premature. It does seem that with Sony having released the PlayStation 4 Pro relatively recently that the logical timeframe for the release of the PlayStation 5 should still be some time away.

Layden also confirmed in his comments that there is no danger of titles being released that are only compatible with the PlayStation 4 Pro. The Sony executive instead indicated that there is strong support from the manufacturer for the entire PlayStation 4 range, and that this will never change.

“With the Playstation 4 Pro we have for the first time implemented this kind of innovation within the life cycle of a console. The Pro is really only to offer advantages such as 4K resolutions and HMD for players who can and want to use that. Add to this a more stable image rate and larger hard disk space. But [PS4 owners have] no real disadvantages. Each of our games will continue to run on the classic PS4 and possibly slightly better on the Pro,” Layden reassured PlayStation for gamers.

Pachter disagrees

Considering the source of these comments, it would seem to be the end of the story. However, some of the most esteemed industry analysts still believe that the PlayStation 5 could arrive next year. And with Michael Pachter having made this latest pronouncement, this will certainly lend credibility to the idea that the PlayStation 5 may emerge over the next 12 months or so. Pachter previously predicted the release dates of the PlayStation 4 Pro and Slim.

“I think [2018 is] exactly when you’ll see one (PS5) 2019 or 2020, and if I had to bet, it’s 2020. Sony’s making so much money with the PS4 that I think they’ll continue to milk it as long as they can milk it. And I think the natural extension of that is the PS4 Pro becomes the default PS4, and they just knock that price down to $250 when they can and they keep selling it — a ton of those,” Pachter commented.

And the noted industry analyst went on to explain the motivation for Sony to release this new console in the coming years.

“The PS5 is probably going to be their real 4K device, and so it just feels to me that they’re not going to launch the PS5 until sales momentum for the PS4 slows, and it just hasn’t. So you certainly get through 2017, 2018, and I just don’t see it slowing in 2018 which should prop them to launch something in 2019. If it slows in 2019, they’re probably launching in 2020,” Pachter explained.

Certainly the timing of the PlayStation 5 will be extremely sensitive for Sony, with the company having recently proclaimed the PlayStation 4 Pro to be a step forward in premium gaming. Undoubtedly, the emergence and the performance of the forthcoming Xbox Project Scorpio will also impact on Sony strategy, so the next few months promise to be intriguing for the video game industry.

UPDATE: 06-30-2017:  While a 2018 release date for the PlayStation 5 has been predicted in some quarters, it seems increasingly likely that this notion is a red herring. In an interview with German site Golem.de, Sony’s Shawn Layden has given a very strong indication that the PlayStation 5 is unlikely to appear in the near future.

Layden stated that it would “probably be some time” before the PlayStation 5 hits the stores, obviously indicating that the suggestion of a 2018 launch is significantly wide of the mark. In addition, Layden also provided strong support for existing PlayStation 4 owners,

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