It’s been almost five years since the PlayStation 4 launched, and fans are turning an eye towards the future, wondering what Sony has in store for the next generation of consoles.
Unlike past console cycles, however, this one looks different. The addition of the PlayStation 4 Pro halfway through the cycle may have opened the door to iterative console upgrades rather than standard console generations. With that in mind, fans aren’t sure what’s coming next. Could it be the PlayStation 5, or another improved version of the PlayStation 4? While we don’t know for sure yet, we’ve heard a number of rumors. Here’s the latest word on Sony’s upcoming console.
When will it release?
As Sony revealed to a group of investors, the PlayStation 4 has entered its final life cycle. From Sony’s point of view, that means that the market is fairly saturated. Most people who wanted to buy a PlayStation 4 have already bought one. Customers may not see this shift much, but Sony will as the company changes its focus from promoting hardware to promoting services like PlayStation Plus and creating more games. The PlayStation 4 has its foothold, and Sony is giving it a little time to breathe before pushing forward into the next round of console sales.
With that in mind, the current status quo is expected to last for a while longer. When Sony begins really pushing the PlayStation 5, we’ll see dev kits going out to developers long before the console arrives on consumer shelves. Since that hasn’t happened yet, we likely won’t see a consumer version of the PlayStation 5 until 2020 or 2021.
What will the hardware specs look like?
According to an appraisal done by Digital Foundry, the true technological leap to make a new console isn’t quite here yet. With games becoming larger and requiring more memory for assets, textures, and sound, analysts speculate that Sony may need to reinvent how the console handles memory. If this happens, however, we’re likely to see a console with a huge amount of storage space, or at least a more efficient solution than what we have now.
Additionally, Digital Foundry speculates that Sony could partner with AMD once again for the processor, which integrates both CPU and GPU components into one chip, allowing for smaller consoles. These could get so small, in fact, that it may be possible to include two core complexes into one console. If it can be achieved, that innovation would let consoles reach the CPU performance of a high-end desktop computer.
Will it be backwards compatible?
One analyst, Michael Pachter, guesses that Sony’s next big console will be backwards compatible with current PlayStation 4 games. While we can’t know for sure, both Sony and Microsoft have concentrated on backwards compatibility this generation, at least in the sense of making certain older games available to play digitally. The iterative design of the PlayStation 4 Pro may also be another clue; Sony has shown interest in making consoles that build off one another, rather than creating a clean break between generations. While nothing has been confirmed yet, the possibility is definitely there.
Will PS5 games be on physical discs?
Andrew House, former chief of Sony Interactive Entertainment, may have stepped down from his position, but he’s still weighed in on the question of using physical discs for games. He stated that he believes “you will see the disc around in the industry for a while,” and added that physical discs are important for sales in international markets.
However, House stressed that he anticipates cloud-based gaming will become steadily more important. Streaming has become a dominant element in the music, film, and television industries, and House believes that the gaming industry will next. If players don’t need to go out and physically buy discs, or even to navigate through a digital storefront, that’s one less barrier between the customers and the games.
What games will it have at launch?
We’re still looking a few years forward in time, but Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding is one big Sony-exclusive game that’s set to launch fairly close to the projected release of the PlayStation 5. While it’s currently being made for the PlayStation 4, Death Stranding may be one of the first games to make that cross-generational jump and usher in a new generation of gaming.