Sony’s PS4 has been phenomenally successful, but it’s now reaching the end of its lifecycle. But you would be expecting Sony to be very pleased with what it has achieved with the PS4. After all, it’s the second best-selling PlayStation console ever, only surpassed in sales by the phenomenally successful PS2, which sold more than 150 million units worldwide.
But despite being the clear winner in the current console generation, Sony is now focused on the next generation, which will begin with the launch of its new console (the PS5) and Microsoft’s (which is codenamed Project Scarlett) during the 2020 holiday season.
And it seems that despite shifting more than 100 million PS4s this gen, Sony wants people to buy PS5 faster during the next console generation, as head honcho Jim Ryan said in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz (via GameSpot).
“As we move towards the next-generation in 2020, one of our tasks–probably our main task–is to take that community and transition it from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5, and at a scale and pace that we’ve never delivered on before”, said Sony’s CEO Jim Ryan.
How Sony plans to do this is something of a mystery at this point, though.
Will they launch the PS5 at a lower price than they did the PS4, in order to entice current users to move to the new console? This seems unlikely taking into account that the PS5 will feature some pretty impressive hardware including a state of the art SSD and a new controller which packs some impressive features. The PS5 is likely to end up costing more than the PS4 at launch if anything.
Will Sony then rely on the fact that the PS5 is backwards compatible with the PS4’s catalogue of games to convince those sitting on the fence to buy the new machine at launch instead of waiting? This by itself might not be enough even if PS4 games run better on the PS5, very likely taking into account how much more powerful the new console will be than the previous one. But how many people would buy a new console just to play the same games at higher resolutions and with better frame rates?
The PS5, then, will need some pretty fantastic exclusives to get users to upgrade quickly. The problem is, no PS5 exclusive games have been announced yet – major titles like The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima will be launching on PS4, although they will surely have enhanced PS5 versions too.
There is a risk for Sony if too many PlayStation exclusive games are launched for PS5 too early. This is because the PS4 has a huge user base (more than 100 million consoles are in consumers hands right now) and many would be upset to have to buy a PS5 too soon in order to play the latest PlayStation game, preferring to wait until their PS4 has outlived their usefulness.
And since most people aren’t early adopters, PS5 adoption is likely to be a slow process no matter how good the console is, meaning most developers will launch on both the PS4 and PS5 at first.
Also, the odds are against Sony being the winner in the next console generation. Microsoft dominated the previous gen with the Xbox 360, while Sony had to play a catch up game with the PS3. But Sony ruled the current generation from the start by pitching the PS4 as a simple games machine and nothing more, while Microsoft billed the Xbox One as a multimedia machine – a strategy which cost the Redmond giant dearly.
Microsoft is unlikely to make the same mistake twice though, and its next console will be a much tougher competitor for Sony right from the start. Plus things could also be quite different during the next gen thanks to the introduction of new technologies like streaming.
Nonetheless, Sony’s PlayStation brand is loved by millions worldwide, so it’ll likely be easier for the Japanese company to persuade its current users to switch to another PlayStation rather than to whatever Microsoft and Nintendo come up with next gen – or maybe not. Time will tell whether the next PlayStation will be another huge success for Sony, then.
PS4 Pro (Sony Interactive Entertainment)