Sony's recent PlayStation 5 tech talk was made for developers, not consumers. It's not enough to win over everyday gamers. Sony needs to show us how powerful the PS5 is, not just tell us.
If you've been reading our recent PlayStation 5 coverage then you know I loved Mark Cerny's recent presentation. I learned so much about SSD tech, about game design, and about the console's new heavily-customized architecture and hardware. But there's one thing that's been nagging me this whole time: It's all theoretical. The raw speeds, the promised performance values, even the praise from Naughty Dog developers--it's all based on concepts we haven't actually seen in action. Will the PS5 change console gaming forever? Of course. But it's one thing to think it, and another thing to see it.
Besides a very brief demo of Spider-Man loading in 0.8 seconds, we haven't actually seen Sony prove the PlayStation 5's industry-altering power. Sony seemed unprepared to capture consumers at this event, and rightly so because it wasn't meant for consumers. Not really. But it did sent unclear messages to gamers.
Sony's miscommunication wasn't as bad as Microsoft's disastrous E3 2013 presentation that cost them the current-gen console war, but Sony did squander a rare opportunity to wow gamers. The presentation seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to the Xbox Series X surprise spec bomb.
Ultimately it seems like Sony got caught off-guard and wanted to release something to relieve some of the pressure from fans. Apart from a brief spec sheet released in 2019, Sony hadn't said anything about the PlayStation 5. There was such incredible anticipation around this event. Microsoft, meanwhile, had revealed tidbits as early as E3 2019 and steadily fed info over the months.
Sony just didn't have a big plan this time. Or at least that's how it felt. Case in point: Mark Cerny's mixed messaging with PS5 backward compatibility made it seem like only 100 PS4 games would be playable at launch. The PS Blog post, which had already been updated once, was updated again to reflect that, no, the PS5 may actually play thousands of PS4 games when it launches.
In reality, Sony's presentation added more pressure. It might've been better not to say anything at all until a more transparent, unified, and concise info drop was planned out, complete with some actual game footage and developers showing just how the console revolutionizes gaming.
Now there's a narrative favoring the Xbox Series X, which is surrounded by Microsoft's forthright transparency with the system.
With the Xbox Series X, not only did we get a full on spec sheet, a breakdown from multiple YouTubers/gaming sites, and a huge index explaining the functionality of each of the system's components and architectures, but we also got actual gameplay footage.
Microsoft showcased Gears of War 5 running at over 100FPS at ultra-equivalent PC presets on an Xbox Series X. The company backed up its claims with some actual footage of a game running on the new system. Microsoft also had developers talk about the Xbox Series X from the start, way back when it was called Project Scarlett.
Sony delivered a glut of information that had to be parsed by journalists and tecchies, almost forcing everyday consumers to rely on third-parties to understand the merits of the hardware. That approach only really works when you have something the consumer can instantly recognize and understand, whether it's an actual product or proof-of-concept gameplay footage.
Sony didn't deliver either one.
As a gamer and as a tech enthusiast, I loved Sony's presentation. I thought it delivered everything in a concise and easy-to-understand way, but I've also been covering consoles for a long, long time. I already understand the ins-and-outs of console hardware and even predicted a lot of the features that showed up in the hardware/software stacks. And I already have lots of patience and the desire to learn everything I can about these systems.
The reality is Sony needs to step in and get a leg-up over Microsoft. They need to illustrate some games running on the PlayStation 5. That's it. They don't have to reveal all next-gen PS5 exclusives, or launch games. Just show us PS4 games boosted to incredible lengths on the PS5.
All Sony has to do is show us Bloodborne running at 120FPS and the entire internet will collectively freak out. Or even a bunch of SSD real-time loading demos showing games like God of War and Uncharted 4 loading levels in less than a second.
Sony has made bold claims about the PlayStation 5.
The console's native boost mode enhances PS4 games so much that specific games simply can't handle it.
The SSD can push uncompressed data at up to 5.5GB/sec, which is 100x faster than PS4. The console has variable GPU performance that scales in tandem with a game, meaning no power is wasted. Sony has even said the PS5 supports 8K gaming, ray tracing, and a ton of other effects like variable rate shading and variable refresh rates.
Until we see these specs and perf promises in action they're just parts of a big bullet list--the kind of bullet list you'll find below.
Sony needs to change that, and it needs to do it fast. The clock is ticking and it needs to reverse the narrative that the PlayStation 5 is an inferior product.
The console will release in Holiday 2020, and it may cost $499.
Check below for more info on everything we know about the PlayStation 5 so far:
PlayStation 5 specs and details:
- Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
- 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz
- Navi 2X GPU with 36 CUs on RDNA 2 at 2.23GHz
- Ultra-fast 825GB SSD with up to 9GB/sec speeds
- Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
- Ray-tracing enabled
- 8K output support (for gaming)
- Plays PS4 games, BC is on a title-to-title basis
- Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
- New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback
PlayStation 5 Coverage:
- PS5 won't play PS1, PS2 or PS3 discs, 100 PS4 games supported at launch
- Understanding the PS5's SSD: A deep dive into next-gen storage tech
- PlayStation 5 won't use memory cards, supports third-party SSDs
- PlayStation 5 specs: 10TFLOPs Navi RDNA 2 2.23GHz GPU, 3.5GH Zen 2 CPU
- PlayStation 5 SSD speeds hit 9GB/sec with custom 12-channel controller
- PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X ray tracing is easily scalable for devs
- Report: PlayStation 5 Pro and base PlayStation 5 coming in 2020
- 60FPS on next-gen PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X 'is much easier'
- PlayStation 5 specs confirmed by Sony: 10TFLOPs Navi RDNA 2 2.23GHz GPU, 3.5GH Zen 2 CPU
- PlayStation 5 could use Samsung's 980 QVO SSDs
- PlayStation 5 is beating Xbox Series X in dev kit form right now
- Hardly any devs are making next-gen PS5, Xbox Series X games
- Sony working on new horror IP for PlayStation 5
- PlayStation 5 devkit UI possibly leaked
- Leaked PlayStation 5 concepts show weird X-shaped case
- Sony's first-party PS4 exclusives are coming to PC
- PlayStation 5's new DualShock 5 may be usable on PS4
- Sony skips E3 2020, has two major events planned for February
- Next-gen console exclusives will be few and far between through 2021
- PlayStation 5's biggest features have yet to be announced, Sony says
- PS4 has sold over 1 billion games and 106 million consoles
- PlayStation 5 backward compatibility should support every PS4 game
- Sony reveals the PlayStation 5...logo
- New trapezoidal PS5 render is an expensive accident waiting to happen
- A $399 PlayStation 5 will conquer next-gen
- PlayStation 5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, analyst predicts
- PS5 may only enhance PS4 games, legacy PS1, PS2 and PS3 games unlikely
- PlayStation 5 prototype dev kit console gets V-shaped clean
- Sony: The future is coming at CES 2020
- PlayStation 5 GPU: 9.2 TFLOPs with 36 custom Navi compute units
- PlayStation 5 GPU emulates PS4, PS4 Pro with special modes
- PS5, Xbox Series X SSD may use software-defined flash to boost speeds
- PS5's SSD is 'exceptionally powerful,' may beat Xbox Series X speeds
- DualShock 5 renders show new trigger design, USB-C, ergonomic shell
- PlayStation 5 to support 8K gaming, Sony confirms
- New PlayStation 5 renders show off radical different design, again
- Leaked PlayStation 5 ad prices console at $1,000, is totally fake
- Sony seeks a new Head of Strategy for Worldwide Studios
- Leaked PlayStation 5 devkit photos show new DualShock controller
- PS5, Xbox Scarlett SSD may use Optane-like ReRAM to supercharge speeds
- NVIDIA G-Sync monitors to improve PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett
- PlayStation 5: Everything We Know So Far
- PlayStation 5 confirmed to have 8C/16T Zen 2 CPU from AMD
- PS5, Project Scarlett may use Samsung's 6th gen V-NAND NVMe SSDs
- PS5 backward compatibility confirmed, will play PS4 games
- Sony's next-gen PlayStation 5 has 4K 120Hz output support
- PS5, Project Scarlett to hit over 10TFLOPs of power, sources say
- PS4 will be supported into 2022, to live alongside PS5
- Sony: ultra-high-speed SSD is 'the key' to next-gen PS5
- PS5 dev kit rumor: 'ultra-fast RAM', Navi GPU with 13 TFLOPs
- PlayStation 5 rumored to ship with 2TB of super-fast SSD for $499
- Insider: PlayStation 5 dev kit faster than Xbox Scarlett right now
- PS5 cartridges aren't real, patents are for Sony kids toys
- PS5's SSD may benefit PS4 games the most
- PS5 powered by Navi in 2020, AMD making Navi with Sony input
- Cloud-powered PlayStation controller may let you play free game demos
- Gran Turismo 7 is a PlayStation 5 launch title: launches Nov 20, 2020
- PS5 confirmed to support 8K video, ray tracing, all on Navi
- PlayStation 5 rumored to cost $499, launches November 20, 2020
- PlayStation game demos are coming back with Sony's ambitious new plan
- PS5 controller: Built-in mic, USB-C, no lightbar, ergonomic design
- PlayStation 5 concept video shows totally new design
- Sony solves PS5's biggest issue
- Sony: PS5 development going according to plan
- New Viking Assassin's Creed may be next-gen console launch game
- AMD working on 'secret sauce' for next-gen Xbox/PlayStation
- The first real photo of a PlayStation 5 dev kit appears
- Next-gen PS5/Xbox Scarlett open-world game: 'best real-time graphics'
- Sony restructures workforce to prepare for PS5
- PlayStation VR 2: built-in cameras, wireless, ready for PS5
- PS5 games will ship on 100GB Blu-ray BDXL discs
- PS5 and Xbox Scarlett will both handle ray tracing differently
- PlayStation 5 could feature AI-powered 'PlayStation Assist'
- Sony won't abandon singleplayer story-driven games on PS5
- PS5 rumor: GPU is nearly as powerful as RTX 2080, GPU clocked at 2GHz
- PlayStation 5 rumored to be unveiled on February 12, 2020
- Sony to raise PS5 cost thanks to U.S. tariffs