Excitement is mounting among gamers as Microsoft and Sony continue to tease tantalizing details of their upcoming next-generation console releases. The PlayStation 5 is expected to launch towards the end of 2020 and lead architect Mark Cerny has already revealed details of the powerful specs that fans can look forward to.
The current consensus among analysts is that the Xbox Two will also launch next year, although Microsoft’s fourth-generation console remains shrouded in mystery. The onus will be on the firm to make a major announcement at its annual Xbox E3 briefing on June 9, because right now Sony has stolen a march on its great rival in the anticipation stakes.
The timing and nature of Cerney’s reveal were unusual. Gamers would normally expect to see executives take to the stage at E3 and unveil details of a new console in an energetic, confident and high-profile presentation.
Instead, Cerney invited Wired in for an exclusive interview at a secret a conference room deep in the bowels of Sony’s headquarters in Foster City, California, and proceeded to casually unload a raft of important details to journalist Peter Rubin. The resulting article sent shockwaves across the world.
The PlayStation, PS2, PS3, and PS4 are among the bestselling consoles of all time and the press had long been hungry for details of the next in the sequence. It was surprising to see Sony announce that it would not be attending E3 in 2019, marking its first absence in the event’s 24-year history.
“We always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers,” it said in a statement. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019.”
It also canceled its annual PlayStation Experience event, and that sparked disappointment among gamers. In the end, Sony decided this new way to “engage its community” would come via the interview with Wired and it came like a bolt from the blue. Some suggested it was done to address a number of leaks, which had led to rampant speculation on social media and on forums. Rather than let the situation persist, gamers felt Sony had decided to reclaim the initiative.
However, another school of thought suggests it was a tactical maneuver to trump Microsoft. After all, the announcement came just before E3, where the Xbox team is expected to deliver details about developments on its new console. It was a telling first shot in the next-gen console war from Sony, and it has seen the PlayStation producer firmly seize the upper hand.
It will now be down to Microsoft to strike back and E3 will be the perfect platform from which to do so. The event attracts 70,000 passionate gamers and all the gaming press will be out in full force, so any big reveals would spread like wildfire.
Microsoft essentially needs to gain a greater share of the conversation, as right now the forthcoming PlayStation release is enjoying a great deal of hype. Cerney revealed that the new device – which Sony has never actually referred to as the PS5 – will boast exceptionally rapid loading times, ray tracing technology and 8K resolution.
The console will have a CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line and contains eight cores of the company’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. That might sound like gobbledegook to some gamers, but it has those in the know giddy with excitement. Cerney claims that its new SSD boasts a raw bandwidth that can outgun any gaming PC currently on the market, which has caused further delight among fans.
His reveal was very interesting, but you will notice that he did not mention what the console will look like, how much it will cost or when it will be released. That is partly to cover his own back. Cerney would not want to promise something his team ultimately could not deliver upon.
But it is also a canny marketing trick, because it leads to intense speculation among commentators, journalists, and gamers, generating huge amounts of column inches, social media posts and even causing it to be featured in the latest esports news at Unikrn. This media strategy will allow Sony to tease further details on an on-going basis, in order to maintain the momentum as the actual launch date grows closer.
The general consensus states that it will cost $499 and be released towards the end of next year, but nothing is set in stone.
Excitement is now reaching a fever pitch among Xbox gamers ahead of E3, as they are desperate for information about the next console. Again, Microsoft has never actually referred to it as the Xbox Two, but that is its working title.
The rumor mill is also in overdrive surrounding this release, and it will be fascinating to see what is unearthed at E3. Right now the Xbox One X is the most powerful console around and legions of gamers adore it, so fans will be keen to see Microsoft keep pace with Sony.
It needs to embrace ray tracing technology too, if only to fight back against its rival in the PR war. It will also be intriguing to see what sort of exclusives the Xbox team can secure. Sony has traditionally fared better on this front – Uncharted 4, The Last of Us and God of War are veritable classics – and it would be great if Microsoft could come out swinging with some big titles to up the ante in this battle.
It is worth noting that both offerings will be markedly different, as Microsoft is expected to focus more on a subscription-based cloud gaming service as it bids to tap into smartphones and tablets, while Sony is very wedded to hardware and it will also continue to pioneer VR developments.
They could peacefully coexist, but such a detente is highly unlikely for these ferocious rivals. All eyes will be on Microsoft’s conference at E3 and if it makes a big reveal we should expect Sony to fire back soon after by providing further details of its own upcoming console. These are thrilling times for gamers and there is a great deal more excitement to look forward to.