Words by Robert Barrie
In the United Kingdom, November 19 shall see the release of Sony’s most recent iteration of one of their most successful products and indeed one of the most successful electrical products in the world. The Playstation 5 (PS5) will boast incredible next-generation graphics and will have such high processing power that the need for loading time screens will be no more. The Japanese company are releasing two versions: a conventional one with a disc drive (for £449.99) and one, in a world which is becoming ever more dominated by streaming, a digital version (with no disc drive that will retail at £359.99). When pre-ordering went live, many of the sites crashed under the traffic of eager gamers ready to experience the future of gaming.
The console it’s tasked with replacing is no mean feat. The Playstation 4 (PS4) has, worldwide, sold just over 100 million units. This is 60 million more than its competitor the Xbox One and led to the PS4 having a 52% market share. It was, and still is, a hugely successful console. Even in 2019, six years after its initial release, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One 3-1, worldwide. Some experts predict, though, that the PS5 will outsell the Xbox Series X, Microsoft’s latest console, even more than its predecessor, and, with this, corner even more of the gaming market than the PS4 held.
A pressing question, though, is will the PS5 be worth buying on release day itself? In truth, it’s a difficult one to answer.
Many game companies have already announced titles that will be available on release day for the PS5. Horizon Forbidden West (the follow up to the critically acclaimed Horizon Zero Dawn) and Spider-Man Miles Morales (a spin-off from the marvellously majestic 2018 game Spider-Man) are just two games that will be available to play come November 19. There are plenty of other games from smaller indie developers too. With the PS5’s eight core AMD Zen 2 (this is a hugely powerful processor) the PS5 will run these games effortlessly and they will, without question, look stunning. And with the most developed controller to date including haptic feedback and dynamic adaptive triggers, the playability will be more immersive than ever before.
The only hiccup is that some of the developers have made the decision to release their games on the PS4 too, alongside the PS5 copies. The decision to release the game on both consoles has split the fanbase. Indeed, it has made buying the PS5 on release day slightly more redundant. There was the promise of PS5 exclusivity for these games for those who have pre-ordered the new console. They, however, shall be playing games that will be available to PS4 owners anyway. The latter group of people who kept their wallets stowed away have rejoiced, whilst the former, who bit the bullet and pre-ordered the console, have called out Sony for releasing a console that will have very few exclusive, console-specific games. This is in contrast to Microsoft who have supplied the Xbox Series X with a plethora of exclusive games.
Moreover, it is well known in the gaming community that it takes developers a few years after a console has been released, to design their games that maximally utilise the console’s hardware. The games in 2018, for example, on the PS4 were, graphically, head and shoulders above the ones designed in 2013 – despite the console itself being unchanged. It is fair to assume the same will apply to the PS5. By releasing two versions, the games are being designed for two consoles with developers’ resources split between the two, as opposed to being optimised for the PS5. In this vein, the games released later this year and next – although looking better than their PS4 counterparts – will look archaic when compared to the games of 2022 and beyond where developers will be designing games with eyes only for the PS5.
So, will the PS5 be better than the PS4 in November? Of course – great graphics and hardly any loading times. Is it better to the tune of nearly £500? Probably not. Thus, the safest choice, if you are still deliberating, is to probably wait a year or two until game developers have really understood what the PS5 is capable of. It is then that we shall truly see next-gen gaming.