Sony's PS5 talk wasn't enough--for next-gen, seeing is believing

Sony's deep PS5 tech talk revealed tons of information, but lacked one critical component: Using games to prove the console's power.

17 minute read time

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.

Sony's PS5 talk wasn't enough--for next-gen, seeing is believing 9

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's PS5 talk wasn't enough--for next-gen, seeing is believing 57

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.

Read Also: Understanding the PS5's SSD: A deep dive into next-gen storage tech

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:

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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