We’ve been here before, haven’t we? I remember the halcyon days of 2013, when a less jaded Sammy and a much smaller Push Square quivered with anticipation as Sony announced the PlayStation Meeting which would later play host to the PlayStation 4. The event was revealed days after a cunning Kaz Hirai had told a business broadsheet that it would let its competitor go first. The company took the entire industry by surprise.
Success has perhaps whittled away at the Japanese giant’s sneaky side, but it proved today that it still has the sheer audacity to take gamers by storm: an unremarkable Tuesday afternoon and it provided us with our very first insight into the PlayStation 5. Microsoft, once again caught with its trousers around its ankles, hastily confirmed its E3 2019 press conference in the aftermath – everyone and their Phil Spencer-esque indie developer shirt had expected the team in green to move first.
But who needs the glitz and glamour of strobe lights and stage make-up when you can just send a tech journalist to Foster City and have Mark Cerny spill the beans? It’s a strange way to announce a new console, but in this social media age, the PlayStation maker has ensured that everyone knows what it’s up to – and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it? The best news of all: the PS5 genuinely sounds superb.
In fact, I don’t think there’s a single thing I’m worried about after milking that Wired article for all that it’s worth. I suppose the console does sound pretty costly, but I don’t think there’s any chance of a PlayStation 3 reprise here – the manufacturer knows that it needs to be under $500 at the very least. Personally, I think we’re probably looking at somewhere in the region of $449.99, which is slightly more than the PS4 but reasonable for early adopters.
For me, there are two things that the PS5 needs to do: it needs to leverage the success of the PS4 and simultaneously evolve it. Those two requirements may sound precariously close to a paradox, but I think that’s what Sony is actually promising. Here we have a piece of hardware that’s built upon the very same foundations as its predecessor: it’s backwards compatible, it’s developer friendly, and it’s consumer-focused. But the manufacturer isn’t resting on its laurels.
No, the people at PlayStation are eager to evolve what gaming can be – and that’s absolutely how it should be. The drastically superior hardware specifications, with ray tracing functionality, will obviously improve visual fidelity – but features like 3D audio and faster loading will help with immersion in ways that are simply impossible on the PS4 right now. This is what a next-gen system should be aiming to deliver, and I’m glad Sony recognises that.
Of course, I do think there will be more to this story, and that leaves plenty for the manufacturer to reveal at a more glamorous showcase event. The controller – such an important part of any platform – is likely to be revised, with speculative rumours ranging from an on-board touchscreen to a built-in camera for more accurate motion detecting. What will be the PS5’s cloud streaming story? How will its operating system function? And what games will it launch alongside?
I think today’s story was targeted at investors, as the organisation attempts to reassure stockholders that it’s been busy behind-the-scenes. But in moving first in such a dramatic way, it’s stolen Microsoft’s thunder once more – buzzwords like SSD and ray tracing are now associated with the PS5, and will be greeted with little more than a shake of the shoulders when they’re inevitably announced for the next Xbox as well. It’s nice to know that this company is still as wily as it's always been.
Were you impressed by today’s PS5 blowout? Are you eagerly anticipating the next-gen console now? Salivate over the super-charged system in the comments section below.