The buzz on the Next generation of Consoles is heating up. And both the juggernauts of the industry are prepping their respective machines for their imminent launch within the next two years. And as a gamer, while the hype, drama and the thrill rides towards the launch of these consoles is very appealing, I feel that this bubble of time from now until the launch needs to be savoured as it unfolds. So let’s take a look at what the gaming landscape would be like once the consoles are released and the dust has settled. What would the names PlayStation and Xbox mean as products? Obviously, we don’t know what the new consoles look like or the exact specs they will be packing, but we do have a good chunk of news and rumours to piece this puzzle together and take a peek into that time period. Let’s travel to 2021 and, assuming most of these news reports and rumours will pan out, see what we will experience with the PS5 and the XBOX 2(?)
This one is the most obvious and needs to be addressed off the gate. The next wave of consoles will no doubt be a significant improvement in specs over their current-gen counterparts. Games like Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us 2 have shown where the industry is heading in terms of cutting-edge graphics and these machines will be equipped with the power to run such graphics heavy games all the way into the next 6 -7 years. Of course, these boxes aren’t going to rival an RTX 2080 but we can expect to get the best bang for our buck in potential $400 we spend on them.
The death of physical game discs has been discussed since the PS3/X360 era. And the technology and internet services of today may finally make that happen. There are already rumours cooking up about a disc-less Xbox One, let alone a next-gen console. And the removal of a disc drive could potentially make the console cheaper, assuming the bigger hard disk requirement does not increase the cost. And if this model succeeds, chances are that this approach will seep into the next-gen consoles from both parties. Whether this will succeed, or the degree of success will also determine the availability of disc-based consoles. Personally, I love my game discs. I like my games to a have physical tangible form. It adds to the emotional attachment one may to a title like say God of War.
Further, in the lines of disc-less consoles, subscription services like PS Now and Xbox game pass will be more prominent next generation. With both companies butting heads on offering the best value proposition things may come down to streaming services playing a major role in the success of either console. Sony may not tout the PS Now this generation due to its strong library of exclusive games driving their sales of the PS4. But Microsoft seems to have fixed the issue of exclusive games for next gen. So heading into a potentially even playfield in the next generation, Microsoft’s card of “Better value with subscription services” may be a make or break factor for both companies in the next round. Sony has already evolved its PS Now service mimicking Microsoft by adding the option to download games directly to the console. Chances are both will go the distance to check the depths of streaming services.
With Microsoft, Nintendo, and Gamers being so vocal about crossplay, Sony will be following suit by offering crossplay for third-party multiplayer games on the next PlayStation. I mean they have to, right? This is another point that may seem super obvious but we have seen corporations make a bad decision based on statistics. However cross play seems like a no-brainer and it is something that I fully expect to see it in PS5, but then again, Sony!.
Backward Compatibility has been another weapon in Microsoft’s arsenal to make up for the lack of games this gen. Backward compatibility is one of the popular practices in the industry. The amount of success it brought to the Xbox one is a different topic altogether, but the appeal of Backward Compatibility is no doubt a force to be reckoned with. With the complicated architecture of the PS3 and therefore the way PS3s games were made, Sony had struggled in this department with the PS4. But recent rumours strongly hint at backward compatibility on the PS5. There was the one suggesting that the PS5 is very similar to the PS4 on how it works, and then another focusing on a patent Sony had made towards backward compatibility. These indicate that the PS5 could potentially play all of the PS4s libraries. As pointed out in my last article about 5 Reason Why Microsoft May Win Next Gen, if this happens Sony would have already won next gen. I hope this happens and, more importantly, not locked behind a paywall as PS4 games are too good to be ignored.
The last batch of rumours suggested better integration of PSVR on Sony’s next system. Whether we like it or not VR has been a novelty that has done better than the novelties of the past like Motion Control and 3D. And, if these rumours are true, Sony seems to be embracing VR more strongly next generation. Whether VR will become stronger or will next gen be the end of the VR run will be an interesting thing to see and experience through the life cycle of next-gen consoles.
With every generation, the games we play get more and more advanced with more systems and gameplay nuances integrated within. Games have come from humble beginnings in the PS1 era like Crash Bandicoot, to awesome experiences like God of War 2 on the PS2, to complex story experiences like Mass Effect and Skyrim on the X360, to magnum opuses like Horizon: Zero Dawn and Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PS4. And this upward trajectory is only going to soar towards the sky next generation. If games like Ghost of Tsushima are any indication on where we are headed, then we gamers are in for a treat with our new machines. That said, questionable business practices like loot boxes and unfair implementation of microtransactions will still be an issue from big third party developers. New gaming trends may topple today’s trends like battle royale prompting these companies to apply new ways to make money. But, with every good comes the bad and it is up to us to choose what we want and what we encourage. So let’s be excited for the good and wonderful that is sure to come our way.
And there you have it. My trip to 2021 showed me these visions. How many of these will stand truly is something that time will answer. One thing is for sure though. There has never been a better time to be a Gamer. And you know it is true.