Well, the gauntlet has been dropped. Sony has finally admitted that the “Next generation of consoles is a necessity” thereby hinting at what the world already knew. That the next PlayStation console is in the works. And this brings us to what we recently discussed about Microsoft and how they are spinning the wheels in preparation for their next console. Especially how Sony had not been in their most customer-friendly face-off late and how this might affect the PS5. In that light, Sony has a lot of things to keep in mind before unveiling/releasing the PlayStation 5. Whether the next PlayStation will be called the PlayStation 5 is yet to be seen, but for the sake of this article, we will call it the PS5. So without further ado, and in no particular order here are 5 things Sony must (or mustn’t) do in order to make the PS5 a success
No.1 – Do Backward Compatibility
This is a no-brainer. As the catalogue of games grows by the thousands every year, the games themselves become redundant after a few years. However, unlike other entertainment medium, games are more emotionally connected to people and these redundant games start feeling relevant again. Hence the demand for these old games is higher than ever. Thanks to the misstep that was the architecture of the PS3, Sony was not able to implement Backward Compatibility in the PS4. But with the next iteration of the PlayStation hinted to be very similar to the PS4, architecture-wise, and hints at backward compatibility being thrown in by Sony executives, this may well be a possibility on the PS5.
Having the entire catalogue of PS4 games playable on the PS5 on day one will be one hell of a feature to overlook. And this may be the make or break feature for many (me included) on deciding whether to stick with Sony or move to Xbox. And the best part, in my opinion, is that it all looks possible and could very well happen. Unless Sony decides to put this behind a paywall and start charging money. Chances for which are equally as good, given the popularity and demand for Backward Compatibility. Let’s just hope for now that this would not happen.
No. 2 – Integrate PS Plus with PS Now
“So the Xbox has a game pass. The PlayStation has PS Now”. This would not be a winning argument as of now. PS now is service that launched much before the Xbox game pass and has not been a resounding success that Sony probably hoped for. Microsoft, on the other hand, took the same idea and made a better, more appealing product with the Xbox game pass. With the option to download the games to the Xbox One, the user did not have to rely on streaming the games real time, unlike with PS Now. Sony has since added this option but limited to PS2 classics and PS4 games, and not PS3 titles, possibly due to the aforementioned architecture of the PS3. That said even with the option to download whatever is available, the value proposition does not match to that of the robust service offered by Microsoft.
The solution to this…… Merge PS Now with PS Plus and have the library of games as part of the PS plus subscription, along with the 2 monthly permanent additions as offered now. To be fair this does seem a bit farfetched as executives may see this as potential money down the drain. But keeping in mind that this was not that much money, to begin with (considering the lacklustre success of PS Now), plus the incredible value this will bring to PS Plus in direct comparison to the Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, this options makes a whole lot of sense.
No.3 – Do not “Kinect” the PSVR. Do not “Switch” the PS5
Watching Sony stick to the PSVR is both delightful and disturbing at the same time. Considering its track record Sony does not seem to support a device unless it is a big success (Remember PSP Go?). But things have been different with the PSVR. Two years into its release, Sony has been supporting VR, and the strongest line-up of VR games have only emerged in the last few months making a stronger case for VR as a whole in the future. Rumours have hinted that the PS5 will have better PSVR integration and will be made with PSVR in mind. While this is encouraging and all, Sony still needs to consider the people who haven’t bought into VR Yet. The non VR crowd (me included) who prefer traditional games playable with their DualShock controllers.
Sony’s stance on VR is worrying not because there is a small risk of them abandoning VR, but because they may get carried away and shoehorn PSVR to every PS5 console. Much like what Microsoft did with the Xbox and Kinect. This is a big NO. Also with the Nintendo’s Switch being the success that it is, and Sony’s recent announcement that the PS Vita has stopped production, there is also a worry among fans that Sony may attempt (and fail) to recreate the Switch. While chances of this are far less than the shoehorning of the PSVR, it is still a big NO. Sony’s strength has always been in making great home consoles and making great games for those consoles. That’s what makes them money. I’d say Sony needs to stick with it and do it better than anyone. Invest in the research of your consoles. Invest on your Console Game Testing and Game Functionality Testing, and keep churning out excellent quality, bug-free and micro-transaction free first party games throughout the console’s lifecycle. That will give you the Win.
No.4 – Do Adopt Crossplay/Other policies
Like point No.1, this too is a no-brainer. The gaming community is the most vibrant and outspoken ever. We gamers are spoilt for choice when it comes to games to play or opinions to share. So Sony needs to listen to the community rather than the boardroom executives and start to adopt customer favouring policies like crossplay. The fortnite debacle gave Microsoft a launch pad to troll Sony and the public perception that Sony managed to maintain for years sure took a dent. So Sony needs to understand the importance of this and be more flexible towards the community. This may sound cliché but it is more vital than one could imagine.
No. 5 – Do Nail the Price/Do not PS4pro.
The most important of the lot, and one that I honestly believe Sony will get right. The Price. $399 has been the sweet spot and Sony is more or less sure to stay on that price (The absurdly overpriced Indian SKUs are a topic for another day). That said, the cost of R&D and the unpredictability of the events to transpire from now until the release of the PS5 (Predicting Holiday of 2020) are factors to consider. Sony will have to overcome all of this and execute a competitive price at launch. What Sony also needs to do is avoid having a mid-cycle refresh like the PS4 pro. I intend to purchase any one of the consoles that win me over in the next gen, whether it’s the PS5 or the Xbox Scarlet.
What I do not intend to do is invest a similar amount two years down the line. The PS4 Pro was a tough proposition and pretty much a grudge purchase for anyone wanting the “best experience”. This was thanks to Microsoft’s move out of desperation to gain footing in the form of the launch of the Xbox One X. With Microsoft looking confident than ever before, I feel that a mid-cycle refresh is unnecessary. Yes, Microsoft hinted at next generation of Consoles, and not a Console. And if Sony was to mimic Microsoft, I’d rather prefer both options (base and pro models) at launch and decide for myself on which variant to invest on for the next 5-7 years and not have these variant pop up 2-3 years down the line. But whether that will happen is something that we will have to wait and see.
Bonus Bit – Get DualShock 5 Right
Ah, the DualShock controller. Every PlayStation gamer, fan or not, will have a love-hate relationship with his/her console, thanks to the DualShock controller. While the DualShock 4 is much better than the DualShock 3 for the PS3, in terms of build quality and the overall feel, it is still nowhere close to the ruggedness and reliability of an Xbox One controller. I own and use both controllers and prefer the Xbox One controller when I play on a PC, while my preferred console as of now is no doubt the PS4. Sony needs to put some thought and make the DualShock 5 more convenient, reliable and appealing.
It needs to avoid redundant features like the touchpad and motion control and focus on what makes sense. Hell, throw in an OLED screen on it, if it can contribute to the gameplay experience in a way that it feels cohesive and part of the experience. I don’t mind. But do not do so just for some gimmicky features to push the consoles early. As a brand, PlayStation does not need it at this point. Just focus on making DualShock better.
So there you have it. Some words of wisdom from a consumer standpoint to his beloved brand. Only time will tell if these will ever be considered or implemented. One thing’s for certain though, next gen is coming and it is more intriguing than ever before. If you have been playing games since the age of 8 bit Mario as a little kid, you know you are living in the best of times. And the most exciting is yet to come.