Before the PlayStation 4 came out, armchair analysts projected the death of the console. Instead, it has sold 90 million units and counting. Console gaming isn't going away anytime soon.
And if you didn't already assume that, well, Sony just made it official: the company has started sharing official details on the next PlayStation home console, which we can probably safely call the PlayStation 5 given history to date.
It won't be out right away, but Sony has already shared enough information to give us a very strong idea of what to expect from the PS5. Here's what we know so far, and we'll be updating this story over time as new details and leaks emerge.
(Hardware images shown of PlayStation 4 Pro)
When will the Sony PlayStation 5 be out?
All we really know is that it won't be out in 2019. That's according to lead system architect Mark Cerny, who did the detail-packed interview with Wired.
He says that development kits are already in the hands of some developers, and that Sony has recently ramped up that process. Safe money is on a 2020 release so that developers have enough time to prep launch games. Given that the PS4 released in 2013, it's about time for the next generation to roll out, anyway.
Nothing's official, but 2020 sounds spot-on to us right now.
How much will the Sony PlayStation 5 cost?
It's too early for anything official. When asked about price, here's what Cerny told Wired's reporter: "I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set."
Yes, it's entirely possible to read into that as much as you'd like. Given what truly does sound like a powerful set of innards (keep reading), we have to imagine it'll be pricier than the PS4 was at launch. On the other hand, Sony learned a hard lesson from the overpriced PS3 and adjusted accordingly the next time around, so the company will have to be careful here.
If we had to guess, we'd say something in the £449-499 ballpark wouldn't shock us.
What will the Sony PlayStation 5 look like?
We have no real sense of Sony's aesthetic for this generation, given that each previous PlayStation console has really taken on its own form – and then other forms once revised.
This bit is confirmed, however: the PlayStation 5 will still play physical media, although Blu-ray hasn't specifically been confirmed just yet. No, Sony isn't ready to give up entirely on brick-and-mortar shops and their real-world foot traffic, even if more and more people seem keen on quick-and-easy digital purchases.
Well, given the need for physical media, it probably won't be tiny. Beyond that, we're waiting for leaks or official images.
How much power will the Sony PlayStation 5 pack?
Here's one area in which we have hard details. Cerny's chat with Wired didn't get too deep into the vision behind the console, but it definitely dug into tech specs.
It'll have a CPU based on AMD's third-gen Ryzen, with an eight-core 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Meanwhile, the GPU is a custom version of Radeon's Navi and it supports real-time ray tracing, which delivers ultra-realistic (and seriously stunning) lighting effects. According to the Wired article, the PS5 will also support 8K resolution, although it's not clear whether that'll be native or upscaled.
The PlayStation 5 will also put a big premium on 3D audio techniques via the AMD processor, whether you're using a headset or TV speakers.
And while system storage for a console seems uninteresting beyond the sheer amount of it, the PlayStation 5 is different: it'll have a solid-state drive (SSD) that can dramatically cut down on loading times for games. It's unclear whether the system will only have an SSD or if it will complement a larger, traditional hard drive, but it'll be in there.
Cerny demoed the effect to Wired in Spider-Man for PlayStation 4, and it cut down fast-travel time from 15 seconds to 0.8 seconds. Yes, less than one second. That's incredible.
In late May, Sony touted a similar figure in a presentation for its Investor Relations day event, showing footage of a Spider-Man level loading in just over 8 seconds on PS4 Pro... and at just 0.83 seconds on PlayStation 5. Sony also showed how the next-gen hardware could better keep up with a speedy jaunt through an open world, keeping pace as it loaded almost seamlessly while the PS4 Pro version got bogged down a couple times along the way.
Unless Sony is bluffing, it's fact. Sounds impressive. Let's see it in action!
Which games will be on the Sony PlayStation 5?
Did you see the part above about Spider-Man for PS4? Yes, that means that the PlayStation 5 will be backwards-compatible with current-gen games. That means modern classics like God of War (shown) and Horizon Zero Dawn will still be playable. Hooray for Sony.
Beyond that, we can only speculate about which games on the horizon will ultimately appear on PlayStation 5 instead of – or more likely, in addition to – PlayStation 4. For example, something like CD Projekt RED's Cyberpunk 2077 seems like a safe bet. Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II too, no doubt. And when asked about Kojima Productions' Death Stranding, Wired said that Cerny's body language suggested that a dual PS4/PS5 release is likely.
Ultimately, the report claims that many games will launch for both PlayStation 4 and 5, offering a better experience for new hardware buyers without completely shunning those who aren't ready to make the leap.
Sony's Investor Relations Day presentation also pointed to a larger focus on streaming games in the future, suggesting that it will be just as viable an option for new games as Blu-ray discs and downloads. The PlayStation Now service already streams older games, but it sounds like Sony plans to push the technology and make it a much larger focus going forward. And with streaming games, you don't even need a powerful console since the computing happens elsewhere - but you'll still get the best experience when everything's running locally.
Backwards compatibility is smart, and we have to imagine that any major announced game that's still somewhat out on the horizon will probably hit PS5.
What about VR on the Sony PlayStation 5?
The PlayStation VR is still a fairly niche offering, with only about 5% of PS4 owners buying one – but with 4 million units sold, it's still leading the VR headset pack. And Sony's not done with it yet.
Cerny confirmed that the current PlayStation VR headset will work with the PlayStation 5, but couldn't talk about the possibility of a next-gen version. We have to imagine Sony is prepping a more advanced version, but there's nothing official to go on right now.
At the very least, PlayStation VR will live to see another console generation. Whether or not we get a new and improved headset remains to be seen.