PlayStation 5 is coming. The arrival of Sony’s next PlayStation iteration is as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning. The only thing we don’t know is when that console will arrive. Current speculation has the device pegged for a late 2018 release – just over 18 months away. It doesn’t really add up when you look at the direction the videogame market is heading in right now, or Sony’s more recent movements.
Part of the reason PlayStation 4 has enjoyed such strong momentum is because Sony have been very consumer friendly. From their opening pitch, the company has always worked to make PlayStation 4 seem like a logical choice for the savvy console gamer. Every move from the consoles release has been carefully designed and crafted to deliver on this, much to the annoyance of Microsoft. Yet releasing a whole new console so soon – five years after the release of PlayStation 4 – would be a step in the wrong direction.
It doesn’t help that over the years, the company has jumped from pillar to post in its attempts to court emerging technology trends. Failures have stacked up high as the company rolled out features and half thought out ideas that gamers really didn’t ask for. Remember its awkward push into 3D gaming? How about that time it tried to rip off the Nintendo Wii with the PlayStation Move? Even in recent times, the company has delivered a whole new console purely to woo 4K gamers into its system.
And this presents the biggest problem to these rumors – Sony have only just released the PlayStation 4 Pro, a console that the company marketed heavily as the true gamers choice. Yet in the months since launch, the new systems increased power has arguably gone underutilized, relegated to making games more appealing in 4K (Which in itself, is not mainstream enough to warrant being the primary concern for Sony). To those who’ve rushed out to buy that device, I’m sure the rumors circling right now are far from impressive.
If Sony wants gamers to invest in a new high-end console – it has to showcase that understands how important scalability is. This is becoming a hugely important selling point – and it’s one that Sony hasn’t a great track record with. Gamers like stability, but if consoles are arriving in ever-increasing power leaps, it’ll create fatigue among gamers who don’t want to have to upgrade their console every 2-3 years. If they wanted that kind of commitment, they could just buy a PC.
It also needs to be said that Sony’s ecosystem is already something of a mess, without the addition of yet more hardware. Unlike Microsoft, who’ve managed to streamline the ecosystem enough to allow easy progression, Sony’s consoles don’t quite fit together in such an easy way. Moving from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 requires abandoning an entire generation of digital content and games – something Microsoft is actively promoting on its console. This kind of jarring jump won’t be acceptable again, in particular when PlayStation 4 is barely three years old. The console should be in the prime of its existence, so talk of a replacement only serves to hurt the console.
Part of the problem is that Sony’s lack of focus is beginning to affect its delivery. Vita is a good reminder that Sony can talk a big game, but ultimately fall flat in delivery. PlayStation 5 shouldn’t even be on the table right now, Sony has more than enough going on to keep it busy for the time being without muddying the waters further.
It’s such a shame, as the PlayStation 4 is killing it right now. The console is delivering some of the best games ever and plays host to a rich collection of exclusives that sit among the best ever. But if Sony undermines this by continuing to push out hardware at an accelerated rate – it runs the risk of alienating gamers. No one likes to feel their new console is already ticking down to its demise, it’s a feeling that Sony’s eyes are drawn a bit too much to the future – and not enough on ensuring that PlayStation 4 remains the best it can be.
Xbox Scorpio may be able to beat PlayStation 4 Pro in power – but that’s nothing if it doesn’t get the games. Sony has the games and consumers confidence. To announce a new console when it’s riding so high would be a foolish endeavour.