When will PlayStation 5 release? Games, specs, backward / forward compatibility?

That’s a good question. No one knows for sure, but there is evidence to suggest that next year Sony will formally announce and begin to reveal their next-generation home video games console. One of the hot topics of debate is whether that system is coming out too soon. Most gamers seem to be split on the issue, with one side claiming that they just bought a PS4 and wish to see it supported for a long time. The other side feels that the current generation has had its spotlight long enough and they’re ready for new technology to take the industry further. However, Sony may have found a way to satisfy both camps in a way that gaming has never seen before in the console space, taking a page out of PC Gaming’s playbook. In this article we will dive through the sea of evidence, hints, rumors, leaks, and probabilities surrounding the sequel to this generation’s most popular console and identify our opinions on what the truth is.

Editor’s Note: There is no image of the PlayStation 5 at this time. Any images used on the website during 2018 or earlier are concept art images created by fans or as fakes by rumor websites. We do not claim to make any expectation as to the look of PS5. Please enjoy the images presented as prompts for the imagination and be prepared for the actual product to look very different. The information presented here is a mix of speculation, evidence, technical data based on computer knowledge, and rumor. Nothing has been confirmed about the PlayStation 5 and any information about it posted during 2018 or earlier is to be taken as such. This is the most accurate information available at this time, but do not take any info as fact until it has been confirmed directly by Sony in future.

IS THE PS4 FORWARDS COMPATIBLE?

Not only do gaming systems get more powerful each generation, but they’ve historically changed up their components and even hardware / software architectures routinely! This meant that learning how to code games for a Sega Genesis probably wouldn’t help you at all when it came time to create the next Sega Saturn entry of your series. While some systems did borrow from others, this was still a major challenge for developers (Wii used the GameCube design, but had a new operating system and controller).

During the PlayStation 3 Versus Xbox 360 console wars, developers even publicly hated on how hard it was to create games using PS3’s CELL processor – which was much better suited for micro-super-computing in military operations rather than game design at first glance. Eventually though, once devs mastered the system’s strengths and weaknesses, they were able to create games that outshined the Xbox 360 which had previously enjoyed superior games due to its similarity to the PC architecture most game designers are taught how to code for in college. But even Xbox 360 had challenged devs early on, with its 3 core PowerPC processor being much different than PC Gaming’s single, dual, and quad core processors of the time.

All of this is well known by console manufacturers who often win wars by having the best developers find it easy to make games for their platforms. The less technical challenges a studio faces, the more they can focus on creativity and quality. That’s why when Mark Cerny designed the PlayStation 4 he worked closely with developers to find out what they wanted, and ended up making the big leap to 64-bit x86 (sometimes called AMD64, x64, or x86_64). This is the architecture that all PCs have been using since 1999 and is built on computer industry technology and practices in place decades prior.

What this means for console gaming is that they’ve now entered an era in which theoretically consoles can get better and better, but still be comprised of the same essential “computer” platform. Making games fresh out of college with tools like Unreal Engine 4 or even coding custom engines in C++ should be extremely easy compared to the days of PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and earlier. The PS4 is using what can be called “computer architecture”, so it’s also even possible that Sony could allow PlayStation 5 games to be playable when inserted into a PS4 system – at lower settings and performance rates, and only until developers eventually make games too powerful for it to run (which could be multiple generations later). So it is possible that PS4 may be forward-compatible, allowing you to play PS5 games on your PS4.

However, there are a couple of reason why this is just a rumor still, even with PS4 being on computer architecture and using computer parts. The first, and most obvious reason, is that Sony could decide not to allow this. Even if it’s likely that we would see an increase in software sales due to the 85 million+ users who own a PS4 being able to buy PS5 games even before they’re ready to upgrade consoles, Sony is also making a profit off each PS4 sold now and likely will do the same now on PS5. That is contrary to past systems like PS3 in which the hardware was sold at a great loss in order to make the money back later on software sales. Since PS4 (and presumably PS5) are using computer parts, the cost to manufacture is much cheaper and they do not incur a loss but instead make profit. That could be an incentive to not allow forward-compatibility.

The other challenge to a forwards-compatible PS4 is the fact that last-gen Sony and Microsoft went cheap with their designs to make even more profit on hardware sales, paying AMD to create semi-custom Jaguar APU chips based on SoC style design (System on Chip) meaning that everything is housed on-board and there is no dedicated graphics card of significance in the PS4. Instead it is housing an HD 7870 directly baked into the silicon, and although this was a huge level up for console gaming – it may not be powerful enough to handle the PlayStation 5’s offerings, which could see a dedicated graphics chip make its presence felt very strongly. If that’s the case, PS5 could still end up forwards-compatible with whatever comes after it, but it would be really cool to see PS4 become the first forward-compatible gaming console in history.

WHEN WILL PS5 BE ANNOUNCED?

With Sony announcing recently that they are skipping E3 2019 after opting not to host a PSX 2018 Event, as well as their disappointing PlayStation E3 2018 showing that received only a B Rating by audiences compared to the A rating given to Xbox E3 2018 and complaints from press about its handling, it seems that they’ve decided to just allow PS4 to bring in its money without their help. Rather than continuing to promote the already hugely successful PlayStation 4 platform, Sony has instead been focusing all of their energy behind-the-scenes on preparing for PlayStation 5’s announcement.

Many insiders feel that Sony will produce either a PSX 2019 Event or PlayStation 5 Event to announce their next-generation platform some time during next year in a similar fashion to how they hosted the PlayStation 4 Event we covered way back in 2013 and discussed. Some folks responsible for many of gaming’s big leaks over the recent couple of years have even suggested that they have intimate knowledge about PS5 and that it will be announced during a 2019 presentation, although an exact date is hard to pin down.

WILL PS5 BE BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE?

Even if the PlayStation 4 does not end up becoming the first-ever forwards-compatible gaming device (outside of PCs and smartphones) it is still highly likely that the PlayStation 5 will have no problem whatsoever playing PS4 games. This will be seen as a great victory for gamers who somehow can’t seem to keep their hands on older systems to play their massive library of past-gen games. Something I never really understood. If you have a ton of PS3 games, just keep your PS3!

Speaking of PS3, the problems designing for CELL architecture we discussed earlier in this article led to the system being impossible to emulate on PS4’s hardware. Even though the PS4 is able to produce impressive graphics and gameplay fidelity, it is not doing so because it is powerful. In reality, when compared to PC technology, the PS4 and Xbox One are extremely weak hardware-wise. Even the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are merely slight upgrades of the same APU technology that any reasonable Gaming PC would shred on. The reason they are able to keep up is simply because their operating systems are highly optimized, using their hardware to the absolute maximum potential for the purpose of video games.

WHEN WILL PS5 RELEASE EXACTLY?

Currently there are two strong possibilities as to when the PlayStation 5 will release. The good news is, we are likely to see a strong lineup of games already available for the system at launch – with a steady stream of titles coming afterwards. This is largely thanks to pre-dev kits and dev kits coming out way early this time around rather than the rushing that has been seen in past generations.

Even though EA  and Sony executives have previously gone on record during 2014 saying that they wanted PlayStation 5 “five years from now”, it is very unlikely to be ready by 2019. However, it does appear that the PlayStation 5 is right around the corner.

2020: The PlayStation 5 could potentially be released in Winter of 2020 (most likely November) with a potential for some titles to become “cross-gen” (available for both PS4 and PS5 with upgraded versions and exclusive features / content on the PS5 version).

2021: Another option is that the PS5 could be released wither during the Spring or Winter of 2021. This was originally the most likely window for release, but now it seems that Sony may think they are ready sooner.

WHAT GAMES WILL BE ON PLAYSTATION 5?

One potential launch title that could be finished in time to help the PlayStation 5 launch is Starfield, Bethesda’s next big single player open world game, set in a sci-fi universe with heavy RPG elements. It was announced at Bethesda’s E3 2018 Showcase after being our #1 Pre-E3 Rumor, but no details were given other than the basic backstory of how the game came to fruition over years of discussion and the fact that it’s the studio’s first New IP in over 25 years. We were also told that the title is currently in a playable state, meaning that while it isn’t quite ready yet – it definitely could be within the time frame of PS5’s launch.

Titles that could become cross-gen (available as both PS4 and PS5 games separately) include Death Stranding, Anthem, Cyberpunk 2077, Ghost of Tsushima, and Days Gone. Sequels that are expected to be developed for PlayStation 5 include Horizon Zero Dawn 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, God of War 2, although they will probably have different names by then. Long-term projects that could end up being released on PlayStation 5 include The Elder Scrolls VI and the Final Fantasy VII Remake, which both are likely going to take way too long to create and will not receive PS4 releases at all (unless PS4 ends up being forward-compatible). Rumored PS5 games include Splinter Cell, Borderlands 3, Destiny 2, and a Justice League game by Rocksteady.

Many unannounced projects are expected to be in development for PlayStation 5. Some have been confirmed with no project name or concept information given at all. You can expect every major company to be working on something. Square Enix Luminous Productions are among the studios who have publicly stated that they’re working on PS5 games. Unfortunately, we just don’t know a lot about those projects right now. As the console’s launch draws nearer, we will begin to hear hints and clues for each game and cover them separately. Game companies want each game to get their own mind-share and release information staggered on purpose to create that effect.

WHAT ARE PLAYSTATION 5’S SPECS?

The PlayStation 5 is said to be the most powerful console ever created. Of course, the exact specs of the PS5 are not known for sure, and there are many wild rumors out there (some of which seem very unlikely). However, we can derive some likelihood from evidence and what’s been going on with the PC industry lately. AMD has also been bragging about having “the secret sauce” to next-gen gaming consoles with a huge focus on their semi-custom market which is even being over-prioritized above their PC graphics cards.

Navi is the new graphics card architecture coming from AMD in the near future which is very likely to be involved with their co-design of the PS5 in partnership with Sony. It appears that the two have teamed up to design the architecture together, with AMD providing it for PS5 exclusively at first, before being allowed to release hardware using the designs on PC at a later date. The device may also be 7nm, even on PlayStation 5, making it half the size of the most advanced chips on the market (therefore electricity has less distance to travel and processes much faster). This could allow unprecedented performance for consoles in True 4K at 60FPS without breaking a sweat.

However, although it does seem likely that Sony and AMD could produce a dedicated graphics card for the PlayStation 5, insiders report VR support “baked in at the silicon level” and this could indicate that the very powerful graphics processor based on the brand new Navi architecture is still on-board and not quite as full fledged as its PC counterparts will be. That’s not to say it won’t be powerful, but keep in mind Sony may want to profit from each hardware unit as they began doing when the PS4 launched contrary to PS3 and PS2 which were wold at a loss to gain the investment in power back later through software sales.

As for the processor, every indication from PC experts tracking hardware manufacturing seems to suggest that Sony and AMD have designed a custom Ryzen which is not quite a second generation Zen architecture but still better than the original. There is already a product line for this in the PC world known as Zen+ and it is believed that some sort of semi-custom PS5 version of the Zen+ with improved design features is what we will see produced. More than anything, processing power has been the weakest point of consoles in the past.

With impressive performance from such weak parts produced over previous decades, gaming has reached a point in which destructive environments, advanced physics, always online services, large open worlds, 4K rendering, and other aspects simply demand more power. AMD has bragged that they’ve got the secret sauce to next-gen gaming consoles, and after their success in creating chips for PS4 and Xbox One it seems clear that they’ll be able to make true on that promise. Lisa Su (CEO and Electrical Engineer at AMD) is quoted as saying, “AMD will catapult computing, gaming, and visualization technologies forward with the world’s first 7nm high-performance CPUs and GPUs.”

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