Well, it had been quite the wait for PS5 details, but the slow trickle of PS5 related information has turned into a steady drip. From a bone-dry tech spec presentation delivered by Mark Cerny to the reveal of the DualSense controller. To get ahead of the final PS5 details, I thought it would be fun to run down some predictions on Sony’s release strategy leading up to the launch of the PS5. I’m not just talking the mini-reveals of things we had no idea were coming, I’m talking major features, games, and tech that Sony will confirm before the PS5’s presumptive Holiday 2020 release.
We’re all just guessing until the final details are revealed, but based on current information, leaks, rumors, and gut instinct, here’s what I think Sony will be selling us for the next generation and a brief explanation of why I think each thing is likely.
Full backward compatibility through to the PS1. Day 1 access to PS1, PS2, PS3, and PS4 games in your PSN library from the PS Store. Compatibility with all PS1, PS2, PS3, and PS4 discs.
Xbox’s backward compatibility (BC) tech got quite the spotlight back in 2016, and justifiably so. There’s no way Sony can step into the next generation without fielding an answer for the level of fan service Xbox BC provides for its users. And hoping they don’t release a subpar, sloppy mess of a service, I think the goodwill extends to digital platforms and includes all previously purchased software. I’ve got my doubts about how polished or extensive the implementation will be on day one, but I think Sony wants to nail the support for the sake of fans and the dreadful first two years of every console cycle before the big money exclusives start rolling in. (First to play on my list? Folklore on PS3.)
Cerny may have only spoken about PS4 BC only during his conference, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see no compatibility with the other legacy PlayStation systems.
PS Now bundled with PS Plus to combine for a monthly service that will have a new title and a fee of $14.99; more current games offered in PS Now
It’s no secret that Xbox Game Pass kicks ass. Sony has quietly been making up ground by offering more recent games to its service. And since Xbox already did the leg work on fleshing out game licensing for subscription services, the studios providing their content should already have a working understanding of what to expect. I think PS Now gets a boost in the arm with a much more robust 3rd party selection, a package deal with PS Plus a la Game Pass Ultimate, and similar perks to Game Pass like purchase discounts.
A “Smart Delivery” feature (though not that name) mirroring the feature announced by Microsoft and endorsed by CD Projekt Red for Cyberpunk 2077
This is the toughest prediction for me. It’s a stretch because both Microsoft and Sony (not to mention developers) have certainly made their fair share of money by re-releasing last generation content on current generation consoles. The biggest games of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation were released again later on the current consoles. Skyrim, GTAV, and The Last of Us were all remade to get a bump from better hardware and another run at the market.
It’s one thing for CD Projekt Red to make the announcement that they won’t double-dip on consumers, but few studios are so gracious or financially stable. It boggles my mind to think that every publisher could forego that kind of money simply for the good of the consumer and the health of the marketplace. But since Microsoft has already broadcast their intentions and been reinforced by the developer of one of the biggest releases of the current generation, it would now make all other parties – both Sony and other major studios alike – look like jackasses to charge twice for the same game across both console generations. To be fair, Sony did start this idea with Cross-buy coming from the PS3 and Vita into the PS4. But once games were no longer being released on multiple platforms later in the cycle, they slowed down on that strategy. Here’s hoping that type of effort will be adopted again.
Cross-play compatibility from day one
This is a gimme. Xbox and Nintendo shamed PlayStation into doing what has probably been possible since the PS3 era: letting people play online across devices and company lines. It made no sense for PlayStation to adopt that strategy with the PS4 since one of the largest determining factors of which console somebody buys is whether their friends were playing it. PlayStation having at least a 2-to-1 lead over Xbox with an install base meant that you had more friends in the wild playing PS4 and, consequently, a much stronger incentive to buy one. Since a new generation is viewed as a hard reset, it makes sense for Sony to scrap that policy in case the numbers were to shift toward Xbox early in the cycle.
PS5 downloads of all first-party PS4 games that will allow them to be played with multiple enhancements simultaneously instead of choosing just one
Mark Cerny all but confirmed this tidbit in his tech presentation, but the details were a little murky for those of us who aren’t fluent in computer engineering. There’s been a lot of talk about scalability this coming generation, and I would like to think that a thoughtful, forward-thinking console maker would have been planning for this for a while. After all, the PS4 Pro patches of Sony’s first-party games usually offered enhanced visuals, upscaled 4K, or 60fps. That means the games’ codes are written to allow for each of these enhancements to be possible. The PS4 Pro just wasn’t powerful enough to run them all simultaneously. But the PS5 will be more than capable of doing so, and I’m betting that it will. There’s no better way to ensure that you keep those 100+ million PS4 users on the ship than to guarantee that their existing library will be playable and better than ever on Day 1 with a PS5.
At least one built from the ground-up for PS5 sequel of a major property during the launch window (release date Nov 2020 – Summer 2021): Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, or God of War
There are 3 first-party classics that Sony fielded this generation: Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, and Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s yet to be determined if The Last of Us 2 and Ghosts of Tsushima can reach that status as well, but a sequel from those wouldn’t be expected anytime soon. With Horizon Zero Dawn being the oldest of those big 3, it just makes sense that PlayStation would make Aloy the face of the new console generation with a Spring/Summer 2021 release of a sequel. That would be 4 years, targeting a Spring release and allowing room to push until early Fall 2021. Since the game engine is already built, and assets may even be reusable (depending on what resolution the game was built in) that’s plenty of time for a sequel to have been brewing.
Cory Barlog already told the world he had more story to tell of the aged Kratos in God of War, so that could be on the table too. But I think Sony will keep that ace up their sleeve for a little later. Maybe a formal God of War 2 announcement by Spring 2021, but nothing more than that.
Bluepoint remake of a classic PlayStation game or series
It’s been known for the last few years that Bluepoint Games, the developer behind PS4’s 2018 Shadow of Colossus remake, has been in the laboratory cooking up something nice for the next generation. Considering how phenomenal Shadow of the Colossus turned out, there is plenty of reason to be excited about what they might be up to. Sony has used the word “celebration” to describe the upcoming year leading to the release of the PS5. “Celebration” in corporate-speak translates loosely to “bragging on our success,” and I’m taking that loose translation and running with it. I’m thinking there’s a prized PlayStation game(s) from somewhere in the PS1 or PS2 lifecycle that hasn’t yet received a current remake or remaster, but it would shake the gaming world if it were to receive one.
While there are a few possibilities that would fit the bill and generate genuine excitement, a couple of titles make more sense than others. While a Bloodborne sequel has been heavily wished for by fans of the 2015 PS4 classic, FromSoftware already has a game in the works with Geroge R.R. Martin that would assuredly be taking up most of their time. And since that’s a new game and not a remaster, there’s no reason to believe that a Bloodborne sequel is what has kept Bluepoint busy of late.
Staying in the Soulsborne arena, a Demon Souls remaster has been whispered about in many circles. Even though I played and thoroughly enjoyed Demon Souls, it doesn’t have the cache to generate the excitement that you’d like to see going into a new console launch. This could very well be the surprise, and if so that’s great. But I think Sony is hinting at more with the term “celebrate.” It’s got to be something more significant…more classic…more than 1 game.
Three games. Three classic games, to be exact. Metal Gear Solid 1, 2, and 3. All PlayStation exclusive, all sorely in need of a remake and all made by the wonderfully peculiar master game director Hideo Kojima, whose 1st release from his baby Kojima Productions was just published in a joint venture with Sony. Konami has done all of nothing with the IP since vomiting out Metal Gear Survive in 2018, so I’m sure they would be thrilled to have Sony dump a duffle bag of cash on their desks for the rights to remake it exclusively for the PS5 on at least a timed exclusivity deal. It’s just too perfect not to hope for.
Another ground-up remake of a classic PlayStation game or series
There’s something else Sony has up its sleeve that I’m sure will excite JRPG fans, similar to what Final Fantasy VII Remake did for the same crowd back in 2015. My first assumption is Square Enix since they’ve got so much history with Sony. The tricky thing about Square is that their catalog is too extensive to know which title it might be. And they’ve gone about the business of bleeding almost all their IPs dry with remasters on their own, so there’s no telling what IP they’ve saved that still has the oomph to make a splash announcement on PS5. But RPG/JRPG fans are always going to stick with PlayStation because that’s where they usually get fed, so I expect something groundbreaking in this arena. Chrono Trigger, anyone?
2-3 indie game announcements that will be exclusive to PS5
Indies are how Sony bridged the gap between the launch of the PS4 and the 1st party titles that really set them up for a successful stretch run this console generation. Studios like Housemarque and PixelJunk have previously kept Sony’s release calendar afloat by offering some offbeat games that diversify the catalog while not attempting to bear the weight of PlayStation’s usual single-player narrative offerings. Media Molecule already launched Dreams after a long beta, providing a whimsical, creative powerhouse of a title where you can literally do anything you want. And with the expected backward compatibility, Dreams will be waiting on PS5 for all to enjoy.
But I’m thinking there are a couple of additional indie games that will become beloved next generation before the big guns come back to the yard. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about at least two of them before the PS5’s release in November 2020.
Well, those are all my predictions for Sony’s 2020 PS5 rollout. Feel free to track the progress over the course of the year and see how my predictions stacked up. Then ridicule or praise me accordingly in the comments below.