For those who think this article is going to head into one particular direction – let me stop you at the gate. Honestly the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 generation lasted way too long. And if PC Gaming as well as Console Gaming throughout the past decade and a half has taught you anything it’s that it’s not always easy buying new hardware right when it comes out. That being said, Sony reached some controversy when it announced PS5 (or rather that a fifth PlayStation design (PS5) was being thought of starting around the time of the PS4 Launch). Some want these console generations to go as long as humanly possible, to get the most value out of their machine which whether you’re talking low/mid-range gaming PC or next-generation consoles in their first few years of release – you’re looking at some amount of hundreds of dollars.
Back in the old days it was a little different. The games were so expensive on the cartridge format, and players spent so much time playing through a single title that they would make modern day Achievement hunters look like ‘noobs’ at the game’s they’d ‘100% Completed’. So making available over 3,800 games like PlayStation 2 developers managed to do simply wasn’t necessary (by comparison PlayStation 3 currently has 795 games available and thanks to cloud computing (PlayStation NOW) and digital distribution (PlayStation Network / PlayStation Plus) the PS3 will likely be forwards-compatible with many games that are developed for the PlayStation 4 as a lead platform. This means a level of post-mortem support that game consoles have never seen before, and the Xbox 360 will likely hang around longer than expected this time around due to the presence of their digital Xbox LIVE infrastructure as well.
But for gamers to ask for console manufacturers not to release a ‘PlayStation 5’ or next-next-generation Xbox console is a dangerous and slippery slope in my opinion. By the time 5 years has passed the next-gen consoles we see today will likely have been host to so many optimizations in console game development code, especially as they are now more in-line with PC game development architecture, that they will be in the prime of their lives. At the same time, if you spend double on a PC what you would on a PS4 right now, you’re already there at a higher level of experience (granted you use the right kind of display, and not a television designed for console gaming). Five years from now the PC Gaming sector will be very far advanced beyond console gaming once again and with an increasing embrace to Steam and PC Gaming in general players should expect a ‘PlayStation 5’ – type of system to emerge again with updated specs and renewed focus on emerging network trends from the internet world in order to keep the console experience feeling luxurious.
As I said at the start of the topic, I believe the PS3 / 360 generation lasted way too long. The industry shouldn’t wait that long to refresh, because it holds developers of console games back. The games can’t innovate without the hardware specs increase – not just in terms of graphics, but more importantly gameworld and gameplay elements can be evolved as well. And although this source may be questionable, Electronic Arts EVP Patrick Söderlund seems to agree with the precedent Sony is putting forward with the ‘PlayStation 5”s scheduling, even going as far as to say that the PS3 / 360 generation took too long which is something I’m often lambasted for saying myself due to the bargain effect people seem to be going for with these consoles.
Currently, sales of the PlayStation 4 are skyrocketing (beyond 6 Million and rising), so many may begin to disagree with my notion that Sony is right to aim for a 5 year away ‘PlayStation 5’-style launch. But if their first party studios can manage to produce all of the projects they are currently planning – that’s a lot of incredible gaming material coming down the line including new IPs and existing IPs such as The Order: 1886, a currently untitled Uncharted 4 (in addition to The Last Of Us 2 and a New IP by Naughty Dog), Drive Club, Infamous: Second Son (followed by a New IP by Sucker Punch), a currently untitled Open World RPG by Guerrilla Games, and this is just to name a few coming soon or less soon. Essentially it seems each PS4 first party developer is engaged in at least one existing IP project and one New IP project. Keep in mind there’s also third party exclusives being developed for Xbox ONE and PlayStation 4 this generation such as Dead Rising 3 for XO and Deep Down for PS4 (both published by Capcom).
This generation might be less about entertaining you for another decade and more about packing a punch for what consumers are considering a high asking price to engage in next-generation console gaming. For a final word on the subject from the executive point-of-view, take a look at this Sony UK Interview.