PlayStation 5: the video games console is not dead yet

Guardian Technology 12 Jun 2020 01:18
More to come from the console? The Sony PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and DualSense controller. Photograph: Sony Interactive Entertainment I/Reuters

Last night in a livestreamed broadcast, Sony showed its new video game console, the PlayStation 5, for the first time, along with 28 new games that will be out this year or next. It is a futuristic-looking thing, all white curves and black and blue-LED accents and a touch of mid-00s service robot about it. One version is digital-only, the other comes with a drive for people who prefer to buy games on disc.

As cloud-based and Netflix-like subscription services have gained traction in the video game world, the “end of the console” has become a popular conversation point. Two years ago at E3, the yearly video games conference, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer told the Guardian that “we pivoted about three or four years ago to thinking about the gamer first, not the device first … Our focus is on bringing console quality games that you see on TV or PC to any device.” But Sony is doubling down not only on the idea of the games console, of generational technology shifts that make new kinds of games possible, and on the idea of selling a new box by funding games that can only be played on PlayStation 5.

“The launch of a new video games console doesn’t just mark the passage of time, it represents a new paradigm, the promise of a new kind of creative expression,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Simon Rutter last night.

“Console life cycles are fairly alone in technology terms, so when upgrades happen what we’re hearing is there’s an expectation of a noticeable change in how people game,” says Rutter. “When we put that together with the feedback that we were getting from the developers, there was a happy, serendipitous meeting of minds. The technology allows us to implement the kind of speeds and data flows that developers appreciate, but at the same time they realise very significant gameplay benefits for players.”

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