It was a somewhat strange way to unveil a console, but Sony has lifted the lid on its next home video game console, which we can assume will be called PlayStation 5. It didn’t come by way of a fancy presentation or E3 briefing, but rather by “name-dropping”: detailing key technical details that help shape the PS5 in our minds.
Even in the face of constant noise that the “console is dying/dead”, Sony appears intent on being a significant player in the industry. Its PlayStation 4 has been a colossal success after the modest sales of the PS3, and the PS4 Pro shows intent to support long and hard, deep into a generation. With 90 million units sold (and more to come as prices drop), the PS4 is active proof that the video game console is still a major player.
Further proof is Sony’s willingness to detail its next home gaming console, which, let’s be honest, is most likely going to be called the PlayStation 5. Let’s take a look at what Sony has detailed thus far, what it means, and what we think about this fascinating — and seemingly powerful — gaming console.
Don’t count on a 2019 release date. That includes a holiday release. Given the timing and type of the announcement, it seems certain that Sony will celebrate the PS4’s seventh anniversary with its official replacement.
That would put a new console release at a 6-7 year cycle, in line with the rest of the PlayStation family. The PlayStation 2 came a touch under 6 years after the release of the first PlayStation. The PS3 came a touch over 6 years later, and the PS4, almost exactly six years later.
That would mean that the PS5’s release represents the longest period between generations, although we should probably consider the PS4 Pro as a mini-generation given the technical leap over the core PS4 model: maybe not a full generational leap, but still a significant upgrade.
A November 2019 release would make it exactly six years since the release of PS4, so it’s not completely outrageous a release date prediction, but it wouldn’t make much sense given the continued strength of the PS4. Further, looking at the PS5’s perceived technological advancements thus far based on what Sony has detailed, and the console could probably do with another year baking in the oven.
Seven months also seems like a mighty short period of time to really ramp up hype and get people saving for a console that would likely cost in the vicinity of $499 USD. All signs point to a March 2020 release at the absolute earliest, or November 2020.
There’s a bit to cover here based on the Wired exposè, so let’s break down PS5 specs as simply as possible.
- The PS5’s CPU will be based on a third-generational refinement of AMD’s Ryzen line.
- Its GPU is a modified/refined/variation of the Radeon Navi family of GPUs.
- 3D audio will see a significant leap in audio quality, one thing Mark Cerny, the console’s architect, said was not possible in the leap from the PS3 to the PS4.
- 8K resolution will be supported.
- The PS5 will be fully backwards compatible with the PS4’s games library.
There’s also “ray-tracing”, which your commoner probably has zero idea about. It’s a “rendering technique”, which makes for an increasingly high level of realism. It’s used in Hollywood productions almost exclusively. It also ties into the 3D audio component, which Cerny explains as:
“If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that.
“It’s all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”
There’s one other little tidbit about the hardware that stands to really make the PS5 a powerful and highly efficient beast of a gaming console, and that’s its solid-state-drive. Wired explained in their piece that a loading screen in Spider-Man that normally takes 15 seconds on the PS4 Pro, took a mere 0.8 seconds on a build of the PS5. That’s a fascinating and mesmerising improvement.
Now this is where things get interesting, because much like the PS5’s release date, it’s based purely on conjecture, looking at historical trends to predict what we think might happen.
The issue, however, is that the PS5 is completely unprecedented, and much like the PS3 and PS4, it could well go either way. There was no way Sony was going to make the same mistake with the PS4 as it did with the PS3, and so we saw a modest price point of $399 USD at launch. That’s compared to the PS3’s $599 launch price, which significantly impacted the console’s launch window success.
The Xbox One launched at $499, $100 more than the PS4, and, much like the generation before, the console with the higher price point struggled out of the blocks. Microsoft faced other challenges, which allowed Sony to build an insurmountable lead in the console war, but the price was certainly a factor.
Given the specs, however, and leaks we’ve seen since the Wired piece, it’s safe to assume the PS5 will cost more than the PS4’s $399 price, and will likely be in the vicinity of $449-$499.
Given the nature of the Wired story, and Sony’s E3 2019 snub, we probably shouldn’t expect any more information until the end of the year, at the very earliest. Sony is clearly keeping things as much under wraps as possible, controlling the release of information and identifying key talking points ahead of an official unveiling. Outside of the specs, much of the chatter about pricing and release dates is purely conjecture, but it seems likely that the PS5 is set for a late-2020 release, at a $499 US launch price.
What do you think of the PS5 details? When do you think it will be released, and for what price? Sound off in the comments below!