Welcome to the first Circle Cross Square. Starting today, follow us each month for an editorial on all things PlayStation 5. Of course, we will be covering all of the news every hour. We will then follow that up monthly with a deep dive on all things PS5.
What Went Wrong With The Road To PS5 Event?
This past month Mark Cerny, Lead System Architect for both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 delivered a high-level tech talk on the new hardware. Originally planned for the 2020 Game Developers Conference, the United States self-quarantine mandate caused the once developer-focused panel to become a public-facing YouTube video. As a result, this became many consumers first interaction with what the PS5 will be. Needless to say, the community was less than impressed by the inundation of technical jargon and lack of basic knowledge on the system. Things like its price, release date, or even an image of the hardware itself were all lacking. Not to mention Sony’s inability to distance itself from the seemingly more powerful Xbox Series X.
This mixed messaging became a PR nightmare for Sony. Among one of the more noted blunders was a lack of clarity related to backward compatibility. Along with, zero examples of gameplay shown, or the actual hardware itself. The gaming community rarely agrees on anything but, they agreed that this was not what anyone wanted. Unfortunately for Sony, social media reactions were in complete accord with these feelings of befuddlement. Even some industry veterans were left confused by Sony’s post canceled GDC direction.
There’s just a lot of people out there that seem to be defending what seems to be a pretty indefensible first salvo of information… It doesn’t really bolster my confidence in the machine or the machine behind the machine. When they don’t even know how to talk about it. It just doesn’t seem like it’s a problem Microsoft is experiencing right now, I don’t know how anyone can pay attention to both of these rollouts and feel like there’s no discrepancy between the two. Sony doesn’t need people to defend them, Sony needs people to hold them to account.
The general consensus is that these things are both extremely powerful and both very similar in a lot of ways and both do different things in really cool ways. These are both extremely impressive pieces of technology. But because of the way Sony has actually presented this thing and marketed this thing, now the narrative is ‘The Xbox is way more powerful than the PlayStation,’ and I think that is such a — maybe fatal flaw on Sony’s part for this console generation. Maybe it’ll all be forgotten if the PS5 comes in cheaper, or it has a killer launch lineup, and maybe none of this will matter in November. Or maybe these consoles won’t even be able to come out in November. But right now, it’s such a dropping the ball after so many years of smart decisions on Sony’s part.
What Does Sony Need To Do Next?
All is not lost for Sony. The great console war of 2020 is not over yet (I’m kidding). There are still seven months until the launch of the new consoles, provided they don’t get delayed. Sony will still have several opportunities to win back the hearts, minds, and wallets of gamers this holiday. We expect both consoles to be a hefty financial commitment this year. Messaging is going to be important now more than ever.
During the GDC YouTube video, Cerny made it known a hardware teardown video is coming next. This must be the next move for Sony. It will be an opportunity to clear up confusion created during the GDC talk. We need a lengthy video showcasing the console’s hardware for our own eyes, not just our ears. We need a detailed look under the hood of the console, to close the loop left open by the GDC talk. Right now it’s not clear what older games will be playable on the console vs what older games will get PS5 upgrades, and when that will be ready. There is also the issue of this unquantifiable power that needs to be displayed in the form of gameplay. What Jason mentions with the PS5 that makes it similar in power to the Xbox Series X, needs to be conveyed somehow. Otherwise, we have to just assume it’s not true. The teardown video would be an opportunity for clarification, while physically showcasing the hardware.
I expect Sony will spend a lot of time on the cooling design during this upcoming teardown. They need to convince the hardcore audience that this isn’t going to be the loudest device in their home. There is also this issue of how Sony will illustrate the tactile or haptic feedback controllers. Sony has to find a creative way to showcase the new controller and its features. This is especially important, now that they are unable to bring in outlets to review how the haptic feedback feels.
Of course, Sony can right the ship by showing what makes PlayStation so great. We are seven months away from launch, and we know very little about what we would even be playing. We don’t even have a single first-party PlayStation game announced yet. When it comes time to show the games, I don’t want a Knack like tech demo. I want the whole shabang. Give me E3 2015, the Year of Dreams part two. I need to see the entire launch lineup, in detail. Followed by trailers for the first year of PS5 games. Show us how the tech is evolving the visuals as well as the scope of games. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. Nintendo has been a leader now in these digital events, they showed off 11 games at the Switch reveal. That doesn’t even count the games that didn’t have titles.
For two years, I have been salivating over what game(s) it might be that BluePoint Studios is remaking for PS5. Mark Cerny, tell us how this new hardware evolves PSVR games. I want Sony World Wide Studio Head Hermen Hulst to take the stage to theme music a-la professional wrestling and drop Horizon Zero Dawn 2 on my face. I need to know who the villains will be in Spider-Man 2. What new and exciting things are cooking over at Japan Studio? Is The Order 1887 real? How will PS4 games be improved on the PS5? There is so much they still need to show with these games.
Tell Us What We Don’t Know, Jim Ryan’s Surprises
Earlier this year Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan spoke with Business Insider of Japan and revealed that there is more to the PS5 than we know.
Every new game console comes with a better processor and graphics, which, of course, is appealing, but it also needs a special appeal. We have already revealed that the adoption of SSDs (for storage) Yes, it’s a big change that the game loads almost completely.If you experience 3D audio and tactile feedback controllers, you’ll notice that it’s an amazing change. Just playing the racing game “Gran Turismo Sport” with the PS5 controller is completely different. I was able to experience a good run with my previous controller, but if I experience the fine road surface with haptic control and the control with an adaptive trigger, I can not return to the original. But, there’s more to the PS5 than the traditional game consoles, and we haven’t yet announced.
In his statement, Jim alludes to features we don’t know about yet with the PS5. I can’t think right away what that means but I can’t help but have my mind shift towards the backward compatibility rumors. Rumors that claim the PS5 can play games from PS1, PS2, PS3. Those rumors seemed to fizzle out after Cerny’s tech talk explained how the PS5 would emulate PS4 games. Then this month the rumors came up again. I am highly skeptical that this is true. However, allegedly Sony is hiding something about the PS5 they are not ready to show yet. Maybe they plan to go full subscription service? Maybe there are tools for content creators, streamers and other baked in integrations. Whatever it is, we hope Sony can come back strong after a very weak first showing.
Make sure to check back every day for up to the hour PlayStation 5 news. We will then follow that up monthly with a deep dive on all things PS5 right here with Circle Cross Square.