2020 will see the release of the much-anticipated PlayStation 5, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that based on Sony’s own PR. While Microsoft has kept fans engaged with a steady flow of Xbox Series X information, and plans to provide monthly updates going forward, Sony has taken a more slapdash approach. So far, the only things of substance they’ve delivered are a confusing, bone-dry PowerPoint presentation about the PS5’s system design and an out-of-nowhere reveal of the system's DualSense controller. Ultimately, our first real look at something running on PlayStation 5 hardware came courtesy of Epic Games, not the console’s own creators.
Unsurprisingly, all sorts of PS5-related rumors and conspiracy theories have sprung up to fill the wide gaps in what we know. While Sony had gamers in the palm of their hand earlier this year, it feels like they’re starting to lose control of the messaging surrounding the PS5. Thankfully, according to reliable insiders such as Jason Schreier and Jeff Grubb, Sony seems to be planning a big PlayStation 5 reveal event for early June (Grubb has specifically said June 4). Can this event make up for months of iffy marketing? What does Sony need to deliver to get the PS5 hype train back on track? Here are a few musts…
The fact that everyone has had to use this PS5 mockup from LetsGoDigital for months now is frankly ridiculous.
An actual look at the hardware
This is an obvious one, but it’s time for Sony to actually show us what the PlayStation 5 looks like. The case, the ports, everything. Microsoft did this last year. It’s borderline embarrassing that Sony hasn’t followed suit yet. If it’s ugly, it’s ugly, you can’t hide it forever.
A clear rundown of what the PS5 can do
No more boring, indecipherable college lectures from Mark Cerny – Sony needs to tell players in clear terms the layman can understand what exactly the PS5 is capable of. Does the PS5 support RDNA 2? If the system’s running some custom version of RDNA 2, what exactly does that mean? Can the PS5 do ray tracing? What kind of resolution and framerate will most games be targeting? We've got half answers on some of these things, but we need assurances.
Sony really emphasized tech with the PS4, and they can’t get away with the Nintendo “It’s just a box of fun, don’t worry about specs!” approach now. Every few days it seems another developer pipes up to say the PS5 is actually more capable than the specs and Cerny’s presentation imply, and the fact that Sony isn’t out there providing evidence of this is kind of baffling.
Some demonstration of the SSD's power
Based on what we know about the PS5, it seems Sony has gone all in on cutting-edge solid-state drive tech, perhaps at the expense of raw CPU and GPU processing power. According to Epic’s Tim Sweeney, a lot of what we saw in the impressive Unreal Engine 5 was possible due to the system’s custom SSD, which can transfer nearly 5GB of data per second, although he muddied the waters by implying other systems with SSDs would also be able to run the demo.
Bottomline, if the PS5’s SSD is its big differentiating feature, then we need some sort of very clear demonstration of what exactly it does. Something beyond just “it will reduce load times.” That’s great, but we need to see how the SSD will make games look better, play better. We saw hints of that with the Unreal Engine 5 demo, but we need to know how the PS5 SSD will result in better exclusives for PlayStation fans specifically.
First party exclusives
Speaking of exclusives – games, games, games. Sony needs to show us some PS5 exclusives at the reveal event. Whether that be the rumored Horizon Zero Dawn 2, Spider-Man 2, or something we’re completely not expecting, next-gen exclusives are one of the big advantages Sony has over Microsoft (all the Xbox Series X launch titles will also be on Xbox One). Flaunt ‘em.
Third party support list
I honestly don’t think Sony should devote that much of their reveal event to third-party games – the first-party exclusives are what fans will be tuning in for – but they need to assure us the third parties are still on board. The most recent Inside Xbox caused a lot of confusion and concern, as a number of games were at first only listed for Xbox Series X, not PS5. Some of those games have since been confirmed for PS5, but some haven’t. Provide some clarification on games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon and show us that big list of third-parties supporting the PS5.
Backward compatibility details
Unlike Sony’s previous couple consoles, the PS5 will offer backward compatibility, with the “overwhelming majority” of PS4 titles eventually being supported. That said, there are still lingering questions. Will these PS4 games be enhanced on PS5, and if so, how exactly will it work? Will Sony offer something similar to Microsoft’s “Smart Delivery” program, where players can buy games on the Xbox One and then receive the upgraded Xbox Series X version for free? Backward compatibility could be a big deciding factor for a lot of early adopters, so we need some details.
Proof Sony’s taking subscription and cloud gaming seriously
Microsoft has pushed gaming in new directions in recent years with Xbox Game Pass and xCloud, and Sony really needs to show they’re not going to let themselves fall even further behind. I’d love to hear about how Sony plans to make PS Now a more appealing subscription service or perhaps some sort of PlayStation cloud gaming option. Sony has actually partnered with Microsoft in order to take advantage of the latter’s Azure cloud tech, so the company clearly has some irons in the fire – let’s hear about them.
A price tag
Microsoft has revealed a lot about the XSX, but we still don’t know the price. Beat them to the punch, Sony. And while you’re at it, be the first to open pre-orders, too.
There you have it, a few things I’m hoping we get from the PS5 reveal event. Will all this come to pass? That’s hard to say, but hopefully more of these things happen than not. What do you think? What do you expect from Sony’s next big event? What do they need to do to sell you on the PS5?