GameTech: Set for next generation hardware

NEXT year, it will be 25 years since Sony launched the original PlayStation. Since that time, the PS brand has taken over gaming, with three more mainline home consoles released in that period. Don’t be surprised if E3 2019 sees the reveal of a PlayStation 5, with a release date of 2020.

Even if the PS5 doesn’t arrive in 2020, it’s definitely coming. Sony president Kenichiro Yoshida recently said: “At this point, what I can say is it’s necessary to have a next-generation hardware.” So what will the next-gen look like?

Here are our seven best guesses.

Streaming big

Everyone from Microsoft, to Google and Sony themselves are laying the foundations for a future where games are streamed from servers instead of being downloaded or purchased on DVD. While the broadband infrastructure in many countries, including in the US, isn’t quite up for the task yet, that won’t stop the Play- Station 5 from building a path to that future. Expect PlayStation Now, Sony’s gameplay streaming service, to feature more prominently at launch.

Virtually untouchable

Microsoft and Nintendo have so far declined to join the VR race, leaving Sony the only real player on home consoles. The PlayStation VR isn’t perfect, but it has been an unqualified success for the Japanese giant. The PS5 will be built from the ground-up to accommodate VR, meaning you can expect to see a new headset that it far easier to set up and much more accessible overall.

Grand design

As in, ‘We don’t need to change the design, it’s grand.’ There’s no chance the PS5 comes out with an eye-catching design, or anything remotely divisive. This is partly due to limitations of the hardware — a fully powered home console won’t fit inside an unusual shape — but also because the days of consoles being ‘toys’ are long gone. The PS5 will be a rectangular, black box with minimal lighting and curves.

Backwards approach

Backwards compatibility was a sticking point for the PS4 and we’re betting it will become a fully blown sore point for the PS5. Backwards compatibility is a console’s ability to play games from previous generations. The PlayStation 2, for example, could play PlayStation 1 discs — but the PS4 cannot play PlayStation 3 discs. We don’t think anything will change for the next generation. It just isn’t compatible with making money.

Always on

It would be a hugely risky move for Sony, but the PS5 might finally herald the era where gamers must be ‘always on’ to play their games. Microsoft tried this in the past and it went down like broadband service in Kerry, but the world is changing quickly. Don’t be surprised if your PlayStation 5 is next to useless without an internet connection.

Resolutions

The PlayStation Pro has already taken a small step towards 4K gaming by being capable of displaying high-res games on compatible TVs. The PS5 will naturally complete that journey, ensuring all games are designed for 4K by default — helping to sell many more Sony TVs in the process.

Familiar faces

Games sell consoles. Just ask Nintendo, who have been thriving on about four games since the 1980s. Sony will make sure they have a strong lineup for the PS5’s launch and there are rumours that development kits for the console are already in the hands of the biggest industry names. If we were placing bets, then CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk is almost guaranteed to be one of the launch titles, along with an outside chance of seeing Starfield, the sci-fi epic from the Elder Scrolls team. We would be surprised if either Uncharted or The Last of Us didn’t make the launch too.

Be aware

While excitement about the PS5 is sure to start building, Sony has problems in the current generation. A malicious message has been doing the rounds on the PlayStation Network. That doesn’t sound too bad, until you realise the message supposedly ‘bricks’ (kills) your console when opened. Until Sony officially responds or debunks the rumour, it’s best to set your messages to private by going into Settings > Account Management > Privacy Settings and switching to ‘friends only’ for messages.

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