PS5: what does the future hold for PlayStation 5?
With the PS4 just under three years old, we would have previously said that we’re unlikely to see a PS5 for at least another three years.
But then Sony and Microsoft went and completely changed the rules of the game with the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio respectively.
The two pieces of hardware fundamentally change how consoles work, and even bring into question whether we’ll ever see a new generation of consoles in the traditional sense. It’s a brave new world when it comes to gaming.
Instead of mammoth releases every six years, we might start to see a smartphone-style model, where new consoles come out every two or three years, with more minor improvements that allow them to maintain backwards and forwards compatibility in their game libraries.
This development casts doubt on whether we’ll actually end up seeing a ‘proper’ PlayStation 5
There’s a chance the PlayStation 5 will be the big, component-packed box we’ve grown accustomed to heating our living rooms. But it also could be a palm-sized streaming device or dive even deeper into the world of game streaming skipping traditional hardware systems altogether. There are a half-dozen equally likely scenarios about how Sony can change its system, however, if we were a betting site, it’s unlikely that the PS5 will change too much.
Why? Sony isn’t big on change.
Gazing back 20 years to the original PlayStation and its successors – yes, you’re that old – it’s fascinating how little really changed until the internet explosion of the last few years.
That puts the PS5 in a strange position. When the time comes for a new system in the next five to 10 years, will Sony take this opportunity to change its platform forever or will it stick to its guns?
Here’s what Sony needs to place at the top of the priority list for its next system.
Discs are so 20 years ago
Now that PlayStation Now and streaming capabilities are the norm rather than the exception, shouldn’t we scrap the disc drive already?
We can hear it from here. Despite the magazine dropping the legendary demo disc in the middle of last year, ex editor of Official PlayStation Magazine, Ben Wilson disagrees.
“Steam on PC has taught us that disc drives are becoming less and less necessary, but I can’t see them being phased out completely for a while yet,” he says.
“People love their boxed products, and ‘experts’ have been predicting the ‘imminent’ demise of the CD for more than 20 years. Remind me how that one has turned out? There will always be those who prefer special editions and sexy packaging to invisible downloads, and it’s those guys and girls who’ll ensure disc drives live on within gaming in some form.”
Looking at the ages of the people investing in technology (that’s us remember, and let’s be honest, we’re not getting any younger) we do still have the desire to buy physical products despite their ready availability online.
But it’s not just PlayStation (and better pricing on the PlayStation Store) that needs to evolve here. Our broadband speeds largely still leave much to be desired and a solid online infrastructure will have to be implemented before we depend solely on fibre-optic wires to get our gaming fix.
Adding an extra hurdle to a disc-less world, there’s yet another reason why the upcoming preloading feature will be like a gift from the PlayStation gods: size.
“I’d argue that the ever-expanding size of games would cause significant issues for a digital-only machine,” says Matt Pellett, current editor of Official PlayStation Magazine.”Both in terms of download times and the number of games people could store on their hard drive at any one time.”
Of course, there are also Ultra HD Blu-rays to consider. These high-capacity discs can store 50-100GB of data, and considering how intricate games are becoming, it’s the sort of media we’ll need our next next-gen games to be shipped on. But the discs are part-and-parcel with the player itself.
Sony is quite likely to want to keep momentum going with the new disc format too and so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see it wanting to do that with a UHD Blu-ray drive in the next version of the PlayStation.
With the new PS4.5 promising support for 4K resolutions, we wouldn’t be surprised if the new UHD Disc format ended up making it into a PlayStation before the PS5.