As both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One near their five year anniversaries, rumors about the next cycle of consoles have begun swirling around the Internet. While it seems that these new consoles aren’t actually anywhere near completion—the latest word is that the PlayStation 5 won’t release until 2020 at least—former PlayStation boss Andrew House has weighed in with his thoughts on Sonny’s next console.
House stepped down from his position as Sony Interactive Entertainment chief in October 2017 after a run that lasted nearly 30 years. Although he’s not currently involved with any behind-the-scenes developments, his long career in the industry lends his words some weight. Recently, he spoke with tech analyst Mike Vorhaus at the GamesBeat conference (via Polygon) on what the PlayStation 5 might look like.
While many aspects of consoles and gaming will change with technology, House was fairly sure that physical discs will stick around ‘for a while.’
“I don’t have any firm knowledge on this, but my sense is that you will see the disc around in the industry for a while,” House said. “If you’re going to tap into some of these [developing] markets [like China], then allowing for that more traditional physical purchase model as an option is probably no bad thing.”
However, House believes that cloud-based game streaming will become steadily more important.
“If you look back at console gaming history, there are certain inflection points that allow for the industry to be upended and for new participants to emerge,” House said. “One of these is when you have a wholesale shift in the distribution method. In content-based industries, that is what is creating barriers to entry for people to come in. So, other than the technical challenges, there’s no reason why game streaming can’t be present in games in the same way that we have seen in the music and film and television industries.
“The evidence I draw on was the original launch of PlayStation. That wasn’t based on 3D graphics alone. The vision was to shift from expensive cartridges to more accessible and cheaper disks. Dropping that barrier allowed developers to take more risks. Streaming could be the next inflection point.”
However, the PlayStation 5 itself could be a long ways off. Somewhat corroborating earlier reports of the console not arriving until 2020 or later, House expressed a wish for longer console life cycles.
“I’m very bullish on longer life cycles for consoles,” House said. “Consoles are so under-represented and under-penetrated in so many markets around the globe. There’s so much potential. Let’s not forget that China is still largely [untapped].”
At this point, it seems unlikely that Sony will have anything to announce about the PlayStation 5 any time soon. Still, we’ll keep an eye out for more reports, especially as E3 2018 draws closer.