Wired has released an exclusive article where they interviewed Sony’s lead systems architect, Mark Cerny. This interview was the first major and reliable information outlet for the spec details of the upcoming PlayStation 5. I read the article for myself, as you should as well before reading my thoughts, and I found myself both excited and skeptical. Yes, ray tracing and 3D Sound (even from stock TV speakers, what?!) is fantastic, but the only game tested was 2018’s Spiderman which ran smooth already. I might have been more impressed if they tested a game like Anthem that drained the PS4, but from the sound of the Spiderman test the PS5 made an already smooth game even more powerful.
This article is not about my skepticism on the PlayStation 5, I can sum up all of things I’m questioning in a couple sentences. First, the expectation for ray tracing should be tempered for the simple reason it will be no where near the capabilities of a PC GPU with ray tracing; it will be an under-powered version compared to a PC build. The only other two things are the 3D sound working with stock TV speakers is unheard of and I’ll have to hear it to believe it, finally the price for an SSD of their description along with the ray-tracing GPU will probably jack up the price closer to $550-$575 but we’ll wait and see.
Those are really my only questions for the PS5 after reading the article, the rest of it left me feeling extremely hopeful for the future of gaming. The fact that Sony is putting in all of this effort for a console that still accepts physical media is a breath of fresh air, most of the competition is looking into cloud gaming or a digital only age. Let’s take a deeper look at this article, not looking at the amazing specs but also looking at the future Sony sees for physical media consoles. As I said earlier, please take a look at the article for yourself, it’s well worth the read:
From Better to Greater
According to Mark Cerny, this shift from the PS4 to the PS5 will be a technological leap like we haven’t seen in many generations. Yes, the jump from PS2 to the PS3 was notable, but from reading this article this sounds almost like the jump from SNES to N64. The previous generation had a tough time for graphics since it came around the transition from 1080p TVs to 4K TVs and the mid-generation releases seemed like an attempt to keep up with the times. With more affordable 4K TV’s being available and 8K being well off in the future, the next generation can take focus on the graphical capabilities and Sony seems to be doing just that. Just look at some of the specs mentioned in the article:
8-core Ryzen Zen 2 CPU
Custom Navi GPU with ray-tracing
3D Audio within the CPU
Hyper Quick Solid-State Drive
And there are still more specs to be revealed quite possibly. As I read this, I start to remember the Reddit leak of the PS5 claiming that it would be a monster and this article backs up that claim. This is a monstrous console. We can expect, if this is all true, to be absolutely floored when this is first shown to the public. While I did say in the first section that our expectations should be tempered, and I still stand by that, I still think it’s okay to be exited about the potential that Cerny is claiming PS5 will bring.
Imagine what modern game developers can do with this technology, what worlds will be made and the speed in which those worlds are loaded in. The promise that the CPU will be capable of running games at 8K seems like overkill, but think how smooth 4K rendered games will run with this overkill mentality. This console generation jump isn’t just going to be merely better, it will be so much greater according to these specs. The article did mention that the PS5 will not be releasing in 2019, but when it does release (most likely in 2020) we’re in for a real visual treat.
There have been many rumors about the PS5’s Backwards Compatibility feature, most of those rumors stating the system will play games all the way back to the original PlayStation era. While that would be an amazing feature to have it still has yet to be confirmed, what has been confirmed by Mark Cerny is that PS4 games will be playable on the PS5. In the closing paragraphs of the article we read that “Because it’s based in part on the PS4’s architecture, it will also be backward-compatible with games for that console” and this is says a lot about Sony’s plans for games of previous generations.
You’ve already built up your library of PS4 titles and if you want to get a Day 1 Edition of the PS5 you’ll still have plenty of games to play on it. Even better, you’ll be able to trade in your PS4 with confidence using it as a coupon lower the price of the PS5. Backwards Compatibility is vital for the next generation, many sequels are set for the next generation and to have the previous games available to play is convenient (We also discussed this on Episode 38 of our Podcast: shameless plug)
Even more news for Backwards Compatibility, your PS4 Headset will be fully compatible for the PS5! In a statement he gave for the Wired article, Cerny says “I won't go into the details of our VR strategy today,” he says, “beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console.” which is massive for VR users. You’ve already paid hundreds of dollars on your current headset and I’m sure many people who heard the PS5 rumors were worried about shelling out a couple more Benjamins for a new edition. Worry no more friends, you’ll be able to bring it over! It’s one thing to have previous generation games to play on your new system, but to also have your previous hardware to function on your new system is fantastic. Cerny didn’t mention if DualShock 4s could work on the PS5, but I’m leaning towards that answer being a no.
I have spoken with a good amount of people who came into this generation of consoles without ever owning previous generations. What is great about Microsoft is that they’ve made the serious push for backwards compatibility so you can play the first iterations of your new favorite series. However, many PS4 owners didn’t experience previous titles because of its lack of Backwards Compatibility. Sure, there have been many remasters or re-releases of previous games such as Last of Us or Journey but there’s only a select few. There will be a good amount of people who will buy the PS5 as their first venture into gaming and the fact they can still play games like God of War and Until Dawn on Day 1 is very consumer friendly. We may not have gotten the confirmation for PS3 or PS2 Backwards Compatibility, but there are many games in the PS4 library that will be well worth playing even five years from now.
The Future of Home Consoles
Lately we’ve seen many companies telling us how they have been pushing for cloud gaming or a digital only future. We’ve seen Google’s Stadia cloud gaming being put to the test at the 2019 GDC Conference, we’ve heard Microsoft talk about their upcoming “xCloud” coming to market, we’ve even heard from Amazon wanting to get into the cloud gaming service. While Sony has also given their interest to cloud gaming, the specs we’re seeing for the PS5 sends a message that Sony still wants to focus on giving us the best home gaming experience.
Sony has always been known to do their own thing, whether that be a good or bad attribute is up for debate but they’ve made decisions unapologetically. While Nintendo and Microsoft have been uniting together with their own plans on the gaming market, Sony has been blazing their own path coming into this generation. Sony didn’t follow other companies for cross-play until much later, they put a ton of focus on single player games while other focused on multiplayer, they’ve even announced that they will be stepping away from their usual E3 conference in favor of something they haven’t even announced yet. Sony has been setting up the release of the PlayStation 5 to be set apart from other next-gen systems and this is a good thing if you still enjoy physical media.
When I first started gaming, I was in the transition of the SNES to the N64 (at least that as far as I remember) so my ideal gaming situation is still in the traditional physical media sense. I still download my games in this generation, but I would still like a physical media box that I can hook up to my TV rather than a cloud gaming USB stick. Gamers from my generation, and ones who are even older than I am, feel like they’re being left behind for the younger generations who care more for the games as a service such as Fortnite or Siege (which we had our own, better title known as Team Fortress 2). Our generation were born into video games and yet we’re the ones having to keep up with the new trend, but Sony has seen us and is designing the PS5 for all gamers of all generations.
From what we’ve read in this Wired article, it sounds like Mark Cerny still has love for the original generation of gamers by giving them the beefy parts that will allow the best graphics and lowest loading times for physical media as well as giving us Backwards Compatibility for the PS4. Cerny has also stated his focus for the next generation of gamers by putting a focus on cloud gaming by saying in the article “we are cloud-gaming pioneers, and our vision should become clear as we head toward launch” so we can see he’s not keeping the PS5 in the dark ages. It’s difficult to please everyone, especially when you have an audience that spans many decades and eras, but Mark Cerny seems to have put in the work to attempt to please a wide range of audiences. Other game companies are basically telling us what the future is and that we should get on the cloud train or else miss out on our favorite hobby, but Sony seems to be easing us more casually into this cloud future.
E3 is coming up, Microsoft has already announced that they will be discussing the details of their next generation system. Xbox has been doing well with Backwards Compatibility, Game Pass has been doing well, and there have been rumors that they have a slew of next-gen exclusive games. After reading this article, however, Microsoft is really going to have to hit the ground running if all these claims are true. Sony is now the first out of the gate to reveal this amount of next-gen details and they have set the bar extremely high; this will indeed be an interesting race to watch. The ball is now in Microsoft’s court, but we’ll have to wait for June 9th to see their response. Until then, the future of home consoles is still shining bright at least from Sony’s point of view. Worry not, we will still be having a dedicated gaming box for another generation.