Reaction: PS5 Livestreams Are No Longer Speaking to the Fans Who Built the Brand 1
Image: Push Square

It’s been eight years since Sony’s outstanding E3 2016 press conference, where it hired a full-blown orchestra and introduced the rebooted God of War to the world. And it’s been nine years since arguably the greatest gaming livestream in history, where the holy trifecta of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Shenmue 3, and The Last Guardian were revealed back-to-back-to-back. Whatever you think of the final products, these were iconic events.

Yesterday’s anticipated State of Play was never going to rival those moments because things have undoubtedly changed, but there’s a growing sentiment that PlayStation is no longer speaking to the fans that built its brand with these broadcasts. The overwhelming reaction from both readers on Push Square and on social media in general is that the platform holder’s latest livestream was middling at best, and it’s not exactly the first time.

Last year we had huge expectations for the firm’s PS Showcase, as it had skipped 2022 entirely. Aside from a glitzy Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 demo, however, it was a largely lacklustre show. Sony, perhaps responding to that feedback, rebranded this year’s summer stream as a State of Play, likely in an attempt to align expectations ahead of time. But this still didn’t really hit the right notes, perhaps signalling that the days of legendary PlayStation livestreams are long behind us.

Reaction: PS5 Livestreams Are No Longer Speaking to the Fans Who Built the Brand 2

There were undoubtedly positives: Concord and Astro Bot, the two tentpole first-party titles on display, are due out in a matter of months. PlayStation no longer seems interested in announcing projects years in advance, especially when AAA titles take the best part of a decade to release these days. We’re obviously still waiting for an update on Marvel’s Wolverine, which was revealed eons ago and has been kept under wraps ever since – sinisterly stolen assets aside.

The problem for PlayStation right now – through a heady combination of its own adjusted marketing plans, the aftermath of the pandemic, and never-ending development cycles – is that it feels like it’s abandoned the kinds of software that fans have always valued most. The success of the PS3’s latter years and PS4’s entire lifecycle was built on single player experiences like The Last of Us and Ghost of Tsushima; with new titles from Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch missing in action, many feel slighted by the manufacturer right now.

PlayStation has, to its credit, cultivated an environment where those types of titles still exist on its system. The upcoming Silent Hill 2 remake, a console exclusive, is a big deal, for example; Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and Stellar Blade launched just a couple of months ago. But enthusiasts are desperate to see that PS Studios logo followed by eye-melting, new-gen justifying experiences – and these projects are, sadly, now taking unprecedented lengths of time to build.

Reaction: PS5 Livestreams Are No Longer Speaking to the Fans Who Built the Brand 3

And so here we are, with titles like Concord left to pick up the slack. It’s not hard to understand why Sony, greedily eyeing the income of juggernauts like Fortnite, would want to make a live service like the sci-fi shooter – and with its big budget action and great character designs, we genuinely could see it catching on. But for the type of audience that hungrily laps up every new game on launch, this is just not what they want – in fact, they feel isolated by what PlayStation has become.

Astro Bot looks delightful, of course, and channels that old-school Japan Studio energy that so many propose to be lacking from the PlayStation of today – but for an audience that grew up on a steady stream of Resistance, inFAMOUS, and Uncharted, the PS5 feels sorely lacking in comparison. There’s a larger discussion about the dynamics of this generation that contextualises why, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the fact that the Sony of 2024 seems out of touch with the fans who ultimately built the brand.

What did you think of the latest State of Play? Are you disappointed with PlayStation’s offering, or were you suitably sated by the selection of software on display? Have your say on the livestream in the comments section below.

How would you rate Sony's State of Play for May 2024? (6,284 votes)

  1. Excellent2%
  2. Very good4%
  3. Good13%
  4. Okay26%
  5. Poor26%
  6. Very poor14%
  7. Terrible16%