We’re here again for Throwdown’s seemingly monthly tear down – and my consequent defense – of Sony’s 2020 marketing and promotion efforts. In the true sense of continuity, Brett maintains his uniquely cantankerous and entertaining stance that Sony is botching their PS5 rollout. I’ve explained why Sony’s off-putting 2020 isn’t a cause for concern, and after the most recent developments – including revealing the DualSense 4 and a jaw-dropping Unreal Engine 5 demo running on PlayStation 5 – I maintain that position. And let me say, this is all in good fun. We’re just intelligent gaming enthusiasts trading opinions.
What intrigues me, though, is that the gaming public overwhelmingly interpreted their silence as a negative. Sure, it’s unusual for almost no major news to have been revealed about a new console this late in the launch year, but that’s a far cry from having a heap of news that doesn’t move the needle. It’s not as if one of their sparse announcements revealed that PS4 games would have to be repurchased to be played on the PS5 (*cough* NINTENDO *cough*). They didn’t announce that no PS5 exclusive games would be released within the first year of its life (*cough* XBOX *cough*). Those announcements would have qualified as bad news. But that’s not what we got.
To be clear: Sony hasn’t had a bad year, just a quiet one. And as the Throwdown crew often references, there seems to be a prevailing notion that Microsoft is winning the 2020 console launch battle because they’re the only ones talking. But I don’t believe that saying something is the same as saying something good, or that saying nothing should be equated to bad news.
We’re still in the first half of the 2020 next generation push, so it’s still early. There’s only so much information we would expect to be presented by either Xbox or PlayStation at this point in a normal launch year. And we know 2020 has been anything but normal.
Among those things are the details Xbox has already revealed: console name, form factor, tech specs, controller, studio partners, and the promise of “more to come soon.” But those aren’t the details that make group chats explode, wallets tingle, and pre-orders pile up. And while tech specs make for great debates, they have yet to definitively decide the success of any console.
Ultimately, consoles win early generation battles with features and amenities (chat, interface, customization, sharing, creating), improvements over last generation (gameplay, visuals, online capabilities), games lineups (expected releases that utilize those improvements), and the price. That’s where the early generation battle is won or lost, and none of that information has been released by either Xbox or PlayStation.
Again I ask, what is the rush? Xbox and PlayStation will start dropping essential details around the same time. Once they do, one thing will become incredibly clear: for reasons both inside and outside their control, Sony has been holding on to the most important, most impressive, and most exciting cards this entire time. Once they show those cards, the 4 months of meh that preceded will be forgotten and we’ll have a hotly contested race on our hands.
Being first out of the blocks doesn’t guarantee you’ll win the race. The first card played isn’t necessarily the winning card. And since there’s no sense in calling a race before someone crosses the finish line, or call a hand before all the cards are played, let’s just sit back and relax.
June is almost upon us, and it’s about to get good. We’ll finally learn more about the PS5 rollout and which games we can expect to see on the next-generation system. Until then, let’s run back that Unreal Engine 5 running on the PlayStation 5.