A lot of the gaming conversation in 2018 has been about what’s next – meaning what the next console generation will look like, much less when it’s coming. A lot of that is because of A) how long the previous generation ended up lasting, and B) the disruption of what a console generation even is, brought upon by the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. So, will there even be a PS5? Well, if any of the wacky rumors that have floated around, from release dates to dev kits and more, are even remotely true, sure. Something is coming, eventually. But when? Well, according to PlayStation CEO John Kodera, it will be a while yet.
A pair of fascinating statement came from Kodera during Sony’s Investor Relations Day. During the event, Kodera said that the PS4, as of now-ish, has entered the end of the console’s life cycle. In contrast, then-CEO Andrew House said in around 2015 that the “harvest period” was getting started, which is sort of peak time to ride on investments and stack that paper. So it sort of makes sense that, as we go into 2019 and all these big-ass games like Marvel’s Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part II come out, we’re going to start ramping into the next big thing. But are we?
In subsequent interviews, obviously being asked by the press to clarify the previous statement, Kodera said that Sony/PlayStation is going to “use the next three years to prepare the next step.” Basically, over the next few “fiscal” years (leading into roughly March of 2021, Sony is going to be riding the PS4 into the sunset. So, the ending of the life cycle comment doesn’t mean the PS5 is launching next year or anything. And, if we don’t see a PS5 (or whatever it ends up being) until 2021, or late 2020, that would make for a pretty hefty generation length. And, frankly, that’s really not a big deal!
Sony has a lot going on right now with the PS4, so much so that there isn’t really a demand for a PS5 outside of the usual community eagerness for the next new thing. In a general sense, PS4s, exclusive games, accessories and more are still doing great. Nothing’s slowing down, and the most recent, big game, God of War, broke several records for the company, including dollar amounts spent on controllers ever (obviously controllers are more expensive now, but still), and Sony’s most successful first-party game to date as well. With the likes of Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima, and whatever else Sony’s teams have cooking, there’s no reason to take the focus away from the PS4 anytime soon. Especially since the competition isn’t quite a factor yet.
Speaking of the competition, it’s not a shocking statement to make that the Xbox One X is a beast in terms of power, and that thing eats the PS4 Pro’s lunch. But Microsoft is in the second place position, and has a two-hour “we’re gonna do good this time you guys” E3 event lined up, and it’s being reacted to as if the Xbox’s whole future is riding on it (it isn’t, but still). The point there is that PS4 isn’t really being challenged, and while the Switch is doing amazing, it’s taking up an entirely different market space. In sum, whatever the next console is, there’s no need to rush to get there. It’s not like the PS3, when Sony had to spend nearly the whole generation rehabbing the brand.
That’s a whole lot of waffling about expensive toys, but it is admittedly exciting to get drawn into speculating and deciphering corporate speak when it comes to the next step in video games. Perhaps the PS5 won’t even be that, and instead it will be some sort of extension of what we’ve seen this generation. Perhaps part of the three year plan is to totally overhaul PlayStation’s whole suite of services, considering how things kinda fell off the rails this gen when the Vita underperformed and PS4 dropped a lot of planned integration. Maybe the next box we get will play PS1 games again! Yeah I know, I gotta slow down. Whatever it ends up being, I’m glad Sony isn’t jumping into it yet, as the fruits of the longer generations have been pretty significant. What do you think?