What Exactly Does PlayStation 5 Mean for the Future of Gaming?
On June 11, the PlayStation 5 was introduced to the gaming world during Sony's "Future of Gaming" stream. It was met with extremely mixed reviews, with most people immediately focusing on the console's size and unconventional design.
Gamers immediately took to the internet to discuss how big it might end up being. Many argue that the PS5 is much bulkier than the Xbox Series X and are wondering why the console needs to be so large. Without having official dimensions released by Sony, fans found other ways to measure the size of the PS5.
By using measurements of both the USB 3.0 port and Blu-ray disc drive as a scale for the rest of the console, fans were able to get dimensions for the PS5. A rough height of 14 inches was estimated using these measurements, which makes it much larger than any of the previous PlayStation models. For example, the PS4 Pro is about 13 inches tall, when displayed vertically. This makes the PS5 over an inch taller than the largest current PlayStation.
Not only did the gaming public start asking questions about the size, but they also started criticizing the design. PlayStation fans thought the design looked too over-the-top, comparing it to a duckbill, a lab coat, and even a wireless router. They seem to think that the white accents on the side of the console are tacky and only make the console seem bigger than it actually is.
When asked about the reason for the PS5's current design on LinkedIn, Matt MacLaurin, Vice President of UX Design at PlayStation, responded with the following:
Thermals. This gen is little supercomputers. While the 7nm process delivers amazing heat performance for the power, the power is very extreme.
The technology that powers the PS5 seems to be relatively lightweight and compact. However, the tech is still so new that it generates a lot of heat. Efficient systems haven't yet been created to cool these various parts down, so the console size has to be adjusted to make room for bulkier thermal solutions. The devkit for the PS5 has two huge cooling systems, which Sony allegedly spent more money than usual to implement. These cooling systems were prioritized so that the powerful chips and processors would not overheat or malfunction, which would prevent potential consumer issues.
Besides the design and cooling systems, another unique feature of the console are its two separate versions. Sony teased both a PS5 Classic and PS5 Digital Edition. The major difference between the two is the PS5 Digital Edition is entirely digital, with no Blu-ray drives or extensions, whereas PS5 Classic is set up to be compatible with both Blu-ray discs and digital releases. This edition is rumoured to be less expensive than the PS5 Classic, but actual figures have not yet been released.
Many are excited for the reduced price of the PS5 Digital Edition, but some remain sceptical about the accessibility of the console. Digital games can be costly compared to physical releases and they lack the vital resale value that physical releases have.
Consumers are worried that price disparities between digital and physical releases will make the PS5 Digital Edition inaccessible to the public, as most physical PS4 games are cheaper than their digital counterparts. This is not as big of a problem in the United States as it is in Europe and other countries, where import costs inflate game prices. For example, the Last of Us Part II is listed at $119.95 on the PlayStation store in New Zealand, with its deluxe edition costing a steep $135.95.
According to Sony, the PS5 will also be backwards compatible, but only with PS4 games. In conversations about the PS5's specs, both Mark Cerny, PS5’s architect, and Hideaki Nishino, Senior Vice President at Sony, stated that the console will be compatible with most of the top 100 PS4 games based on average playtime. Nishino elaborated in that eventually this list of games would expand to include most of the 4,000+ PS4 games. Some PS4 games, such as Fortnite and the Last of Us Part II, might even have PS5 versions that take full advantage of the enhanced hardware and console-specific features.
In a recent demo, Unreal Engine 5 was run on PS5 hardware in order to demonstrate the power and processing capabilities of next-generation gaming consoles. This sparked a small discussion on why the PS5, with its 10.28 teraflops of processing power, was selected to run the demo and not the Xbox Series X, with its, 12 teraflops.
Tim Sweeney of Epic Games took to Twitter to address these concerns, stating that Sony and Epic Games have been discussing future graphics for quite some time and this demo was just the culmination of those discussions.
Games and game engines, such as Unreal Engine 5, seem to run quickly on the PS5 due to the consoles SSD storage, which allows for areas with heavy graphics and detailed environments to load quickly. This reduces the need to have long loading screens, huge corridors, and elevators separating graphically-intensive areas.
The PS5 is also being teased as a completely customizable console, in both hardware and interface. According to PlayStation execs, the OS will be different from that of the PS4 and will allow users to customize it to their liking. Mark Cerny also stated that the 825GB SSD storage could be expanded upon by adding compatible SSDs to the console. This gives players greater control over their library of games and shows that Sony is moving toward making the console as customizable and accessible as possible.
Sony is planning on releasing the console in the holiday season of 2020 and further announcements regarding line-up and pricing will be made in the near future.
Images via Sony