Epic demo highlights PS5 hardware advantages as PS4 hits new sales benchmark


It’s clear that the release of the PS5 or PlayStation 5 will be one of the biggest events of the year, but one somewhat muted by the COVID-19 epidemic which is still ongoing. Nonetheless, Sony is moving forward with the PS5’s launch, getting ready to get the new console to shelves this holiday season.

And those looking forward to the launch of PS5 might have enjoyed Epic’s recent Unreal Engine 5 demo, a 10 minute video showcasing the kind of visuals which will be possible on Sony’s upcoming console.

The lifelike characters, landscapes and architecture seen in the demo might have left many stunned, and Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney recently told IGN what he thinks makes the PS5 such a gaming powerhouse.

You see, while the PS5 boasts cutting-edge graphics hardware, Sweeney said it is the console’s blazing fast SSD drive that makes the difference, with Sony’s console delivering “a multi-order magnitude increase in storage bandwidth and reduction in storage latency” as Sweeney told IGN.

And there’s no doubt that the PS5’s Solid State Drive is something of a speed demon: Sony’s PlayStation architect Mark Cerny revealed in a presentation earlier this year that the PS5’s built-in drive can deliver an amazing 5 GB per second of storage bandwidth. This is faster than any SSD currently available for PC as Sweeney points out, giving the PS5 a big hardware advantage over current consoles and PCs.

According to Sweeney this “fundamentally changes the trade-offs that games can make and stream in. And that’s absolutely critical to this kind of demo”.

But while it’s clear the demo above looks absolutely stunning, it will surely be a while before we see games with visuals like those seen in Epic’s tech demo, as one Forbes contributor has pointed out.

This is because the full launch of Unreal Engine 5 won’t take place until 2021, and the cost of developing bleeding edge games for those with the latest hardware is cost prohibitive for developers, who are more likely to focus on cross-gen development for the time being.

This is something that makes perfect sense taking into account the PS4’s user base, and that Sony’s current-gen console is still selling millions each year.

Actually, according to data from a senior analyst at Niko Partners (via GameSpot), Sony sold 13.6 million PS4s in the last financial year, which ends on March 31, 2020. This is less than the previous year (in which sales totaled almost 18 million) but still impressive nonetheless.

This brings the total number of PS4s sold to more than 110 million, meaning Sony has hit another sales milestone, cementing the PS4 as one of the most successful consoles of all time. Actually, only the Game Boy, Nintendo DS and Sony’s own PlayStation 2 have sold more.

So it’s almost a certainty that game developers will be putting out PS4 games for years, focusing on cross-gen development instead of graphically impressive PS5 exclusives that most console owners won’t get to play.

It will take a while before PS5-only games become the norm then, as the PS5’s user base will have to grow considerably before investing in exclusives for Sony’s next console becomes worthwhile for developers.

Nonetheless, the PS5 will surely be getting some early exclusives, including third-person action game Godfall (this will also launch on PC and on Xbox Series X later, it being a timed exclusive) so it won’t be that long before we get to see what Sony’s upcoming machine can do when it launches later this year.