The dates for the next console generation have finally be set in stone with the PS5 being announced for Winter 2020. With a plan consisting of a fancy new controller, almost no load times, and plenty of expected games from Sony studios, the PS5 is going into the next generation strong. But will that be enough to buy the hearts of players who are so immersed in the Xbox ecosystem thanks to the strides made by Microsoft over the last few years?
It's a fact that the PS4 has dominated the current console generation. Sony's PS5 has far outsold the Xbox One, largely in part to the strong opening years and the steady stream of exclusives. However, what Microsoft lacked in exclusive games in the first half of the generation, it made up for with services in the back half, a smooth transition into a new era of content consumption. Microsoft has focused on Xbox Game Pass, an open-minded approach to crossplay, and collaboration with Nintendo while Sony has been historically been resistant to change.
With Xbox owners now given the option of having so many quality games on Game Pass and being able to finally play with friends on other consoles, it is tougher than ever to convert players to another console family. But there are a few key things Sony can do to bring players over.
Play PS4 Games (Backwards Compatibility)
The Playstation 4 lineup is inarguably great. Plenty of fantastic, powerhouse first party titles like Horizon: Zero Dawn, a good lineup of third-party exclusives like Tetris Effect, and a majority of what the past six years of gaming has had to offer, there was no lack of great games on PS4. Based on the most recent info dump Sony released unveiling the PS5 name and release date, backwards compatibility has been confirmed for PS4 games, though the extent of the service is unknown at this time.
But backwards compatibility is beginning to go beyond the traditional method of being able to play last generation's games. This generation Microsoft leaned into adding more Xbox 360 and original Xbox games to their digital library and backwards compatibility list. The Playstation library is currently scattered across consoles and digital marketplaces i.e. PS1 games that can only be bought and played on PS3 and Vita. Sony could learn something from Microsoft by its catalogue in one marketplace and begin to build up a collection of classic Playstation games from all generations on the PS5.
Playstation Now Has To Step Up
The biggest obstacle standing in many Xbox One owner's way is Xbox Game Pass. The service constantly adds games, some brand new and many within a year of their release, and doesn't often remove many of its biggest hits. The service is a great way to play Xbox exclusives and try some overlooked gems.
Sony's Playstation Now service just slashed prices in what seems like an attempt to compete with Apple Arcade and Game Pass. The brand needs some revitalizing and focus, however, because it is relatively unknown to consumers and confusing to players used to a Netflix model of streaming service. The possibilities to evolve game streaming and allow players access to a broad selection of PS4 and PS5 games exists with Playstation Now, but first Sony needs to revamp and reintroduce the service.
A Focus on Cross Play and An Open Mind Looking Forward
Until very recently Sony was not fully on board with crossplay, and taking the final step has just now made them the final platform holder to support crossplay functionality on all games going forward. This does not mean all games will support crossplay, but if the developers choose to add this functionality all major platform holders will allow it on their devices. Sony's initial reluctance to the concept is worrisome when considering what the next generation could bring.
Sony needs an open mind to adapt to the way the industry is changing in ways that can benefit both consumers and developers. Being ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology and new business models is an aspect where Microsoft currently has a leg up over Sony. Alternatively, developer friendly moves like Epic's 12% revenue split could make the platform a more stable place for indie studios and smaller developers.
No Load Times Would Be A Plus
A number of PS5 features that Sony has announced are already quite enticing. It may end up being the most energy efficient console on the market. Another focus of the PS5 will be a major reduction to load times. A recent patent emerged that explained the ways the PS5 is trying to reduce load times to almost nothing.
A future with no load times once a game is loaded in, or no load time between zones in an open-world or immersive sim style game are all possibilities if Sony will do what it says it will with this tech. While the Xbox One X is a very powerful console, it still seems like the focus of the next generation for Microsoft will be getting Game Pass and xCloud streaming services into the hands of as many consumers as possible. A high end console will certainly be part of their winter 2020 offering, but a lack of focus on hardware could lead to Sony having a major advantage in this particular area. Shorter load times on PS5 could make a major difference in some of the biggest and most ambitious games of the next generation.
At the end of the day, it's entirely up to the consume whether they stay loyal to their preferred brand, swap consoles, or just get both. That's probably one of the most exciting parts about moving into the next generation of consoles.