The PlayStation 5 will undoubtedly be one of the most anticipated devices in any technology niche, yet the existence and release date of this console are still very much under wraps. It is becoming ever harder to predict when the major console manufacturers will unveil their latest products, in what is an increasingly complex console marketplace.
2021 release looming
Nonetheless, many market observers believe that 2021 is a realistic release date for the PS5. Analyst Michael Pachter previously suggested that 2020 could be a possible date for the emergence of the PlayStation 5, but even this seems a little early. Nonetheless, in order to be inclusive with the existing PlayStation family, Pachter suggests that backward compatibility will be built into the PlayStation 5 from day one.
It is expected by the end of the decade that 4K resolution televisions will represent 50 percent of the units in operation, and thus the 4K capabilities of the PS5 will be critical to success. Of course, the existing PlayStation 4 Pro is already capable of 4K gaming via its checkerboard technique, but is still a little underpowered to deliver this in native format.
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But the PlayStation 4 Pro has still been hugely successful for Sony, meaning that the corporation may delay the release of PS5 for a few years. Sony’s President and CEO Shawn Layden has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 will definitely be released, but that it will not be in the near future.
Xbox One X precedent
What we can predict with the PlayStation 5 is that it will outperform the Xbox One X, which is undoubtedly the most powerful video games consoles ever to be released. Its 8-core CPU, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM memory and 40 compute units at nearly 1200MHz GPU, is significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro.
Sony will undoubtedly be working on a PlayStation 5 release that delivers even more power than the Xbox One X, which is pretty much on a par with a mid-range gaming PCs. While the PlayStation brand has been able to rely on an unrivalled gaming library, hardware is still important in the minds of consumers, and the PlayStation 5 will need to reclaim the crown of the world’s most powerful gaming console if it is to compete favorably with the Microsoft offering.
It is also possible that Sony will reconsider its decision not to include a 4K Blu-ray player in the PS4 Pro. While this is a hugely niche market at present – and physical movie discs aren’t nearly as important as they were when DVDs first came out – it can be asserted with some confidence that 4K Blu-rays will be more mainstream by the time that 2021 rolls round.
If Sony is serious about virtual reality, the PlayStation 5 should also include serious provisions for its VR headset. Although the PlayStation 4 Pro is a more than decent VR machine, the fact remains that it doesn’t really compare with its powerful PC rivals in this department. Thus, it is probable that Sony will deliver a brand new virtual reality headset with its new console, while the extra power included in the PS5 will obviously result in an improved virtual reality experience.
It has been suggested in some quarters that Microsoft will launch its first virtual reality headset when the next Xbox console is released, and this will up the ante of competition in this department. Of course, Sony is already competing with Oculus Rift, which is a fan favorite with many PC gamers.
Probably the biggest area of consideration for Sony with the PlayStation 5 will be the precise format that this console will take. While we can expect physical discs to be retained with the PS5, streaming of games will surely have been established as a much more viable proposition by the time of its release.
Sony has already established its PlayStation Now service, which works extremely well on the existing PlayStation 4 platform. But the ability of PlayStation Now to cope with 4K resolution AAA titles is clearly insufficient, and this is something that Sony will have to work on in the near future.
Microsoft has already spoken about the possibility of a gaming climate in which players rent titles at an affordable price point. But many will be sceptical about this possibility, considering that the buying and selling of second-hand games on platforms such as eBay is still considered to be a central part of the industry.
Indeed, the hostile attitude that Microsoft adopted to second-hand games with the Xbox One was arguably a nail in the coffin of its console. Sony and the PlayStation 4 were far more sensible in their approach, and this found favor with the gaming community; which is notoriously volatile and rebellious.
While gaming developers would love players to switch to a subscription or disc-free system, the reality is that neither console manufacturer could gain a massive advantage over the other by offering discs as opposed to streaming-only. Most gamers still want to feel that they own a game, and this can only be achieved emotionally by offering them a physical disc and box, quite regardless of some of the potential long-term problems with owning games virtually.
So this is an issue that Sony will have to get right with the PlayStation 5, if the new console is to be a success. Undoubtedly it has established the PlayStation 4 as the market leader in the existing console generation, but this can all switch around very rapidly if it gets the tone and content wrong with the PS5.
One final innovative feature that Sony could include in the PlayStation 5 is the wireless charging of controllers, even while games are being played. We see this technology regularly in the mobile sphere, and it would certainly add to the gaming experience if it was to be delivered in the PS5.
Although this console may not appear for some years, it does seem that the PlayStation 5 is set to be an innovative and intriguing video games machine.