In perhaps some of the least surprising news I’m going to end up covering all year, Sony officially confirmed that the PlayStation 5 is set for a release worldwide next year. Holiday 2020, to be precise. To be honest, this news on its own would barely be worth mentioning despite its gravity, as this news is essentially an official announcement of something so obvious I was more surprised to learn that Sony was yet to officially give the device a release window. Look beyond the headline and there’s more to the story than meets the eye, though, as this confirmation also coincides with a few tidbits of information about what to expect from the upcoming device that personally makes me a lot more excited for the device than I initially had been.
Sony has been remarkably silent at the various major trade shows, with the gaming company’s absence the biggest sign that the company’s focus has shifted from the currently-on-sale PS4 and onto the yet-to-be-unveiled PS5. While a brief interview with WIRED back in April briefly teased the system with bold claims of ray-tracing and more, claims I personally dismissed at the time as being unrealistic and likely to be amended by the time the system was made available, little was actually known about it other than that the console existed and would be released… eventually. A far cry from Microsoft’s strategy of talking about their next-gen hardware at the most recent E3 and being rather frank about what to expect from their upcoming device.
Far from being dismissive of these new claims, however, this new information not only gives reassurances about the previous claims made in regards to the device but makes me genuinely excited to get the console in my hands and try it for myself. The reason? As a WIRED article released alongside this news suggests, it’s all in the controls.
Controls Are Key
I have to be honest, I was never a fan of the DualShock 4 that was bundled with the PS4. The short battery life was a major issue for longer sessions, sure, but the more pressing issue for me was the mostly-unused and often-unhelpful Touch Bar alongside analog sticks that never felt too comfortable to use. These are personal issues, obviously, but it hindered the system as a whole for me even if I was able to work around it.
The brand-new controller (currently unnamed but, based on past naming conventions, will be the DualShock 5) set to be included with the PlayStation 5 upon its release looks to rectify these issues. Not only will the controller promise better battery life but it will introduce two new innovations into the PlayStation family, both of which seem to borrow from the controllers produced by Nintendo and Microsoft yet are certainly welcome additions to the system nonetheless. The controller will replace its rumble functionality with haptic feedback similar to the Nintendo Switch’s HD Rumble, one of the system’s most underrated features and a glaring omission from the Switch Lite, and triggers with force feedback, a feature found in Xbox One controllers. Both of these are some of their respective controller’s best features, however, so seeing them here is very welcome.
Although I’m less of a fan of the DualShock 4, many seem to enjoy the feel of the controller in your hand, and if this controller is able to deliver these new features then it’ll definitely help to enhance the experience of games on the device.
How Much Will PlayStation 5 Cost?
This is the big question that needs to be asked as more features are drip-fed to the public ahead of the console’s official reveal.
Through this new article and announcement today, we learned about the PlayStation 4’s controller, promising two impressive yet costly additions to the controller over its previous incarnation, the DualShock 4. On top of that, when the system was last discussed back in April, we learned the PlayStation 5 planned to include an SSD and a graphics card capable of modern expensive ray-tracing techniques. In fact, this new coverage on the device has confirmed that this will be ray-tracing acceleration found within the GPU hardware itself, not a simple software fix as many thought it could be.
Considering this together, the fear is that Sony is falling into a similar trap they fell into when it came to launching the PlayStation 3. Although the system eventually went on to overtake the Xbox 360 by the end of its life, that console’s launch back in the mid-2000s was fraught with issues caused by the PlayStation 3’s oft-ridiculed price tag of $599, a PR disaster that the company took years to recover from. The hardware was impressive, with a blu ray player and many advanced components for the time, yet it was all for naught because the price of the console was simply out of reach for most people.
Heading towards the planned release of the PlayStation 5, it would be nice to assume that Sony has learned their lessons from these issues to not repeat the same mistake twice. At the same time, even the cheapest off-the-shelf graphics card capable of ray tracing is close to $400, while SSD prices for the size of storage that many would expect to find inside a device such as a PlayStation 5 won’t come cheap; adding those new features to the controller will also not be a cheap process. While Sony traditionally sells their PlayStation hardware for a loss, and it’s difficult to imagine the PlayStation 5 will change this fact with such features expected to be included as standard, it’s still difficult to imagine the hardware of the machine will come cheap, and much of that cost will inevitably be passed onto consumers.
The scant details we know about the PlayStation 5 suggest a promising device come release which looks set to deliver on the specs department. We know that the hardware set to be found inside this device based on this information will ensure the device is a technical powerhouse once the device becomes available. There’s plenty here to get excited about here for both the future of gaming and for fans of Sony hardware.
Provided the price is right, that is.