Mark Cerny dropped the bomb about PS5 not long ago. Ever since, the hype around PS5 is intense in every corner of the internet. Thus, this effect comes as a surprise to no one. PS4 was a tremendous success for Sony. The fourth iteration of the PlayStation console delivered many of the finest games in the history of the company. God of War comes to mind as one of the most recent examples, taking home almost every Game of the Year award the industry has to offer. Horizon Zero Dawn and Spider-Man are well deserving of mention as well. These exclusive games are one of the major forces that drove PS4 to the success it has. Will exclusives be the winning card for PS5 over their competition?
The gaming scene is rapidly evolving with mid-generation upgrades for consoles and even outsiders like Google jumping into the scene and making streaming relevant. The market in which PS4 launched is a very different one in comparison to the one the PS5 will be facing.
Franchises, expectations, and timeliness
The number of franchises that PS4 showcased through this generation was massive. A constant flow of great exclusives marked every year. PS5 can set itself apart from the competition with exclusives alone. Sony has proved that they can produce a continuous stream of quality games to differentiate from their competition.
PS5 will be backed up by the numerous studios that are part of Sony International Studio’s roster. Although, timeliness will be a crucial factor to keep the hype alive. PlayStation is famous for several delays for their high profile games. That’s not completely bad, because the final product’s quality is assured. These delays are somewhat tolerable when the platform is already a couple of years old, and plenty of third-party games are supporting the console. PS5 needs to keep a steady flow of AAA exclusive titles in its first couple years that match or surpass the quality where PS4 titles are currently positioned.
Just as its predecessor, PS5 can create a strong value proposition with its software line-up. Software is a driving force, and Sony has mastered the craft. Especially in this last generation. Still, that value proposition alone is not enough. Exclusives like Bloodborne and Horizon Zero Dawn made PlayStation fans happy. But, the ultimate success of Sony’s platform came because it was not only appealing to those who loved their exclusives. PS4 was an all-around excellent gaming machine since day one.
More than games will be needed to succeed
Games can differentiate PS5, but won’t be its triumph card alone. Sony needs to match or surpass the offerings of the competition. Right, they didn’t immediately react to Microsoft’s Game Pass or Backwards Compatibility. But, PS4 was already in a pretty strong position when those services where introduced. PS5 will have a clean slate and will have to start from scratch.
Backward compatibility was mentioned by Mark Cerny, which is a great start. But PS4 proved to be a very rigid platform in its last years. Cross-play was not welcomed by Sony from the get-go as Nintendo and Microsoft embraced the idea. PS5 will have to open up and become as flexible as PS4 was back then. Most of us still remember the E3 presentation in which Sony savagely showed how physical games could be shared on PS4. That attitude and openness of the platform made it appealing to consumers.
War, war never changes
The tech world changes fast. What doesn’t change at all is how we perceive value. Devices need to keep evolving to remain relevant. Even Nintendo Switch with all its success is bringing in VR through LABO, and some deals with Xbox are rumored. All this to make their platform more open and valuable to gamers. Xbox is doing the same with XCloud in response to Stadia and demonstrating Xbox is ready to take on the challenge of competing directly with Google.
PS5 exclusives are a great value, but the way the PlayStation brand value is perceived will be crucial to mimicking or surpassing its predecessor success. PS5, so far, sounds precisely like the powerful gaming console everyone is so anxiously expecting. Still, there’s nothing that indicates it’s not just a more powerful backward compatible PS4.
Sony can revamp their PSN service and expand the offerings of PS Now to go along with their already impressive roster of exclusive IPs. The new PlayStation iteration will surely benefit greatly from the remarkable software catalog. Granted that, it is the value proposition as a whole and the gamer-centric focus and flexibility that the current PlayStation generation demonstrated what will make the PS5 a worthy successor.