I sat last night, a glass of wine in one hand, phone in the other manning the Pure PlayStation Twitter feed, while the PS5 reveal event played out in front of our all glistening eyes. It was finally happening. After months of will they, won’t they, Sony finally came through and delivered what fans expected.
Games were central to the presentation, but we also got our first look at the console itself. No, scratch that – consoles. There are two, which is a first for Sony. One will be a traditional console that plays games via discs and downloads, the other is an all-digital machine that will only play digital content. Fair enough in today’s ultra-connected world.
Now that the dust has settled, the hangover is starting to pass, and my thoughts are beginning to gather into one cohesive mass of words, I’m left a little disappointed. I’m still massively pumped, mind you – a new console is always exciting, no matter who’s making it – but when you lay the facts out in a line, it becomes clear that something’s amiss.
For starters, why are we getting GTA V again? This will be the third generation that GTA V has released on a Sony machine. This is a new level of weirdness, no? GTA V was good the first time around, better on PS4/Xbox One, and then superior on PC. Will the PS5 version do enough to warrant the asking price? There’s no official word on the RRP for GTA V on PS5, but you can guarantee it won’t be a cheap release. GTA V on PS4 was a full-priced game, and you can expect that to be the case on PS5.
Of course, you don’t have to buy it, and it won’t be a launch game as it’s releasing in 2021. But still, it’s getting a little silly now. We all have a little chuckle each week as GTA V sits in the top ten week after week, years after release, but come on, it’s time to put the game to rest. Basically… I want GTA 6, damn it!
Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the next game to be announced, and it looked fantastic. When my colleague Max and I sat down to talk about the even after it finished, I said that I thought Spider-Man: Miles Morales wouldn’t be a full-fledged sequel, but more of a stop-gap between Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. I was right, but I didn’t expect to be so wrong at the same time.
It turns out that it’s not its own full release, but instead an expansion for the original Spider-Man, and it’ll only be available on PS5, skipping PS4 altogether. I get the want and need to show off impressive games using the PS5’s hardware, but the way Sony presented Spider-Man: Miles Morales was a little deceptive. Many would have thought it was a full game featuring the titular Miles Morales, not a bolted-on expansion to the main game. I guess the other side of the coin is why haven’t Sony properly communicated that the original Spider-Man on PS4 is being remastered/enhanced for PS5?
I think that by going for the honest approach and saying “hey, we’re re-releasing Spider-Man on PS5 with a bunch of enhancements, and it’ll come with this awesome cool Miles Morales expansion too” would have been just fine and I wouldn’t be sat here writing this paragraph. Instead, it feels like Sony was going for the immediate “wow” factor, and that the fallout from the confusion could be dealt with later. And it was. Via a paywall website…
[Update: Even more confusion surrounds Spider-Man: Miles Morales, as Sony has said it’s one thing, but Insomniac has said it’s another. Is it hard to get clear messaging out the doors to fans? The confusion could have been avoided with a clear initial message.]
Other questions are still hanging in the air, like, how many first-party games will actually launch with the PS5? By my count, there will be just two PlayStation Studios games releasing this holiday season: Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a re-release with an expansion, and Astro’s Playroom, a pre-installed demo. Of course, other games will release on the system and you won’t just have these two games to play on launch day, but it’s a surprisingly weak showing when we talk about first-party games. The rest of the games from Sony’s PlayStation Studios are without release dates and release windows. Will they release in 2021? 2022? Will they be surprise December drops? Who knows, because Sony isn’t saying.
Of course, there’s still time for Sony to make release date announcements between now and the PS5’s release, but I don’t think we should expect much. If release dates were close to being finalised, you’d think we’d have heard about them during the PS5 reveal event, like with Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
It’s worth noting that over the last few months, the world has changed dramatically. Development teams are largely working from home rather than sharing communal spaces in their regular offices. This has no doubt had an impact on how games are being made and their schedules, but it shouldn’t be me writing that. I think that most of us would appreciate if Sony said “look, times are hard right now, we’re battling with new ways of working, and it means we might not have things quite ready.” Honesty always wins, at least that’s how I see it. And for the most part, people are understandable. Everybody has been affected in one way or another, and I don’t think any reasonable fan would begrudge any developer for putting their hands up and saying that things are harder and taking longer to produce.
For the most part, I was happy with what was shown. I was disappointed in the lack of Batman (damn you internet “leakers”!) and the total lack of PSVR talk. But what I saw left me impressed, and I immediately dug into my wallet and dumped all of my spare change into my penny jar which will be broken open to pay for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. This winter is gonna be long, hard, cold and hungry, but I’ll have the latest games! And I could probably use the PS4 Pro to heat my house with its over-enthusiastic fans.
At this stage, some four to five months out from the PS5 release, we’re still in the dark on a lot of things. Sony will tell us more in the coming weeks and months, that’s a certainty, but the lack of information on the console’s price, the price difference between the two different versions, the console’s release date, and the release dates for its big tentpole showings adds an air of uncertainty.
It’s the same with Microsoft, too, and make no mistake – they’ll be watching each other closely, plotting their next moves accordingly. As my colleague Jason aptly put it: Whoever comes out first with pricing information takes the first volley of arrows. Who will be brave enough? Which console manufacturer thinks they have the armour to withstand that first volley? I don’t know, but I just hope that we get more answers sooner rather than later, especially when it comes to services like PS Now and PS Plus, backwards compatibility, pricing, and schedules, not to mention stock situations arising from the ongoing Rona pandemic.
Just please, for the love of all that is holy… don’t be another $599.99 fiasco. There aren’t enough jobs going around for us all to work two to be able to afford the PS5!
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Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)