PS5: What We Still Don't Know

If you’re like me you saw the Playstation 5 Reveal Event and turned into the meme of Fry with money in hand saying “Take my money!”  The reveal was packed with exciting exclusives like Ratchet & Clank, Horizon Daw, Gran Turismo, and a diverse amount of content coming in the foreseeable future.  Due to the amount of content shown it is understandable for gamer’s fingers to twitch with anticipation to grab the new controller of Sony’s next system. It is reasonable for minds to wonder what beautiful eye catching graphics are possible with the power of the latest Playstation. However, as enticing as it is to get wrapped up in the Sony hype we need to take a step back and look at the PS5 with a wide lens. There are still many questions that Sony needs to answer before gamers can make a fully, informed decision this holiday season.

Backward compatible

Sony has confirmed their next system will be backward compatibility but details have been scarce regarding its scope. It is unknown if the PS5 will be fully backward compatible with all of the games of the PS4 or if it will be a partial list of it’s most successful releases. My hope is for the system to be backward compatible with the entire PS4 game catalog.  However, it could just be wishful thinking.  Another aspect not yet clarified about the PS5 is if it will be backward compatible with PS3, PS2, or PS1 games.  If the PS5 is backward compatible with its family tree of consoles then the CD tray version would be a great offer for long time Sony game collectors as opposed to the digital only version.  Personally, I predict the PS5 will be backward compatible with the full PS4 library of games. I strongly doubt Sony will implement backward compatibility with the PS3, PS2, and PS1 physical media.  Fortunately, Playstation already has a good backlog of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games as downloadable only options.  My expectation is the PS5 will be backward compatible with those digital offerings.But Sony fans will need to own them already on the PS4 or purchase the games digitally for the first time on the PS5.  Hopefully, my prediction is wrong but the PS5 reading the discs from its prior console is highly doubtful. 

Backward Compatible Upgrades

What we know the PS5 will have backward compatibility.  What it’s still unknown is how games will be upgraded on the new console.  From as far back as the PS2, backward compatible games on the Sony’s system have always enjoyed sharper resolutions and brighter colors.  So it’s easy to expect backward compatible games to receive some upgrade on the PS5.  What I expect is games to receive sharper resolutions.  What I would love to see is for past games to get upgraded lighting effects, new textures, and frame rate boost as well.  Unfortunately, the PS5 will not have a Smart Delivery feature like the Xbox Series. The feature allows one copy of a game to be bought and work on both the Xbox One and Xbox Series console.  Sony has confirmed that any PS4 game released after June 2020 will be required to be fully backward compatible with the PS5.  However, what upgraded features the games will have is still yet unknown.

Release dates of Games

The Sony event was packed with games.  Games with all types of gameplay, genres, and art styles.  However, it is still unknown what launch titles the system will have upon release.  The only safe thing to assume is for Sony to have the same multi-console releases the Xbox Series will launch with.  Games like FIFA 21, Cyberpunk 2077, NBA 2K21, Madden 21, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Fortnite will certainly be part of the launch lineup for both rivals.  However, it’s difficult to get excited for these games as they’ll be released in current console generation as well.  Sony needs exclusive titles to motivate gamers to jump into the next console wars and support their brand.  Currently, we know the PS5 will have two free games included in its console.  GTA V and Astro’s Playroom, a 3D platformer in the vein of Mario Sunshine that will be more of a tech demo than a full sized game.  But the number of exclusive launch titles is still a mystery.  Personally I expect Godfall, Demon Soul Remake, and Spiderman: Miles Morales to be launch titles.  Gamers will probably need to wait till 2021 to play Gran Turismo, Resident Evil 8, Horizon Dawn, and Ratchet and Clank.  SquareEnix’s game of Project Athia will probably release three to four years from now.  It’s still in the early stages and it wouldn’t surprise me if it becomes the next game flagship title in the Final Fantasy series.  Regardless, Sony needs to communicate with it’s fans regarding the launch titles and future release date of it’s games. 

Price, price, price

Of course the most important factor yet to be revealed is the price of the console.  I predict the price will be $500 for the cd tray option and $400 for the digital only version.  However, I’m just as curious for the price of PS5’s respected accessories as well.  Microsoft has offered a great incentive for Xbox players.  It will allow for Xbox One controllers, fightsticks, and many of it’s accessories to be compatible with their next generation console.  I would love for Sony to offer the same great value for Playstation fans.  Technically the PS4 controller isn’t dramatically different from the PS5.  Unfortunately, I do not expect this to be the case.  Sony fans will have to cough up the dough for additional controllers if they want to play couch-coop games on the ps5.  Many people expect the controllers to be priced at $60, the same price as the current ps4 controller.  I do not expect this to be the case.  The new tech inside the PS5 controller will make the controller more expensive to make than their PS4 counterparts.  Don’t be surprised if the PS5 controller retails for $80 upon release.  I’m also intrigued by the PS5 headphones due to its “Pulse” product name.  The Sony Pulse headphones were a favorite headphones for Sony fans during the PS4 era.  The bass boost was an awesome feature missed by fans as, unfortunately, the follow up Sony Gold and Platinum headphones were not able to replicate.  I predict the headphones will retail in the $130~$180 price range and will add the sorely missed bass boost option.  Two additional accessories shown in the PS5 reveal event were the charging pad and HD camera.  While I predict the charging pad to retail for $30 the HD camera seems out of place.  Sony currently has a PS4 camera accessory but throughout the lifetime of the system it was hardly supported.  So the question is, why would Sony develop a new camera for the ps5?  I can only hope the camera will have a 4K resolution, provide better VR fidelity, and improve broadcast potential during streaming.  One can only hope.  I expect the retail price to be in the $60 - $100.  The final piece of the puzzle is how much games will retail for.  There are rumors games for next generation consoles will be $70.  I think developers will charge $10 initially for the PS5 versions of their games but I don’t expect this to be the standard moving forward.  So regarding all the mysteries regarding pricing the next question iis, when will Sony reveal the price of their new console?  It’s rumored Sony will have an event on July 13th which will finally reveal the price and also open the doors for pre orders.  Hopefully, we’ll find out sooner than later.

The Console Itself

Sony can reveal the price of the console tomorrow but there’s still so much left to know about the hardware itself.  We know it will have two ports in the front, a USB-Type A and a USB-C port.  The ports make sense, the A port will support the most popular peripherals of the past (fight sticks, keyboards etc.) while the C port will support the peripherals of the future.  However, for Sony’s sake it needs to have additional ports in the back.  Having just one A and one C port is not enough for modern gamers.  Assuming players buy Sony’s HD Camera, an external hard drive for additional storage, and a captured card for streaming, they will run into a wall with a lack of accessible ports.  I predict the system will have two additional USB ports in the back, an ethernet port, an hdmi port, and a digital audio option as well.  Personally, it’s important to know how loud the fan of the console will be.  Long time Sony players still remember the horrendous fan noise coming out in the first models of ps3 that negatively affected the gaming experience.  Another important factor influencing buying a console for many is having the option to upgrade the internal hard-drive and knowing how difficult the task will be.  Upgrading the ps4 hard-drive from day one gave many gamers the ease of mind to never worry about running out of space again.  Before purchasing the PS5 for the long haul people want to know if they can upgrade the internal hard drive and know the task will not be a troubleshooting nightmare.  I predict Sony will provide these options.  Additionally, I predict Sony and Microsoft’s next console will be more hardwire for streaming and content creation.  Imagine being able to have customizable layouts and overlays or advance community interaction.  Streaming is the future and it would be interesting if Sony takes advantage of the PS5 to create its own streaming paradise to rival Twitch.  

So as excited as it is for the PS5 release there’s still huge gaps of knowledge that need to be filled before making an informed choice in purchasing it.  Backward compatibility, launch titles, release dates, the console’s price, the price for accessories, along with their features.  We know all these answers will be revealed in time.  My concern is with the holiday season fastly approaching the answers will come fast and furious.  So be on the look-out gamers.  Take the time to analyze what are the biggest deal breakers for you in the next generation war.  Much of the information, with exception of the price and launch date will not be forthcoming.  You will need to look for the information with a fine comb and read the fine print of hype building articles.  The future of gaming looks bright as both Sony and Microsoft’s next console seem amazing.  But the devil is in the details.