A A few days ago, almost out of nowhere, Sony announced the PS5. In a weird unveiling, wired has published an article with Mark Cerny, the chief architect of Sony's slot machines, in which the renowned developer talked about major upgrades to come in the future of PlayStation. Cerny talked about hidden technology, what she can do in terms of gaming performance, and also confirmed that she would not be available this year. It is rather destined for 2020.
Compared to the fanfare of an E3 (glitter, glamor and millions of eyes in the world), this is perhaps the most discreet way for a hardware manufacturing company to talk about its next flagship console. We may hear about it later this year at a PlayStation event like PSX.
But the wired The article raised a host of questions. In an intelligent and thoughtful way, Sony has now essentially informed the players of what they already knew (that a new console is relatively close to the horizon) while providing them with impressive details (notably the fact that the loading times will be greatly reduced and the console will support the 8K resolution games), while keeping the juiciest commercial details (such as the price and any idea of how the console will be called or will look like) under the veil. It's a heavy piece of technology that puts the emphasis on commercial juices, and that seems like a clever way to pre-empt Microsoft's expected announcement of its 'Next Box' in June, without letting the cat go out of its bag. .
Of all this revelation, one thing seems to me particularly important: backward compatibility. This means that you will not be prevented from playing your existing games when you purchase the new console. In the past, console generations were typically a new form of physical media – think of moving DVDs to Blu-Ray discs between PS2 and PS3 era – but it looks like the PS5 will support PS4 titles.
Many will argue that maintaining the compatibility of PS4 games on new and upcoming hardware reduces the excitement of a leap in generation; Developers still struggle to develop inter-generational games – it's an expensive process to run a game on different platforms. But in the end, it's a pro consumer decision that allows people to upgrade more freely when they want, rather than choosing between being cut off from the latest games, or having to abandon the games of a generation whole. This is also proof that Sony is not yet ready to abandon disc games. In an era of cold, sterile technology such as Google's Stadia threatens to remove the magic of the living room game and host somewhere in a server rack. So that can only be a good thing.
Google Stadia looks amazing. But the death of the consoles? It's undeniably sad.
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