In a recent interview with Wired, Mark Cerny, the Lead Architect of the PlayStation 4, discussed Sony’s plan for the next console generation and revealed loads of information about the future of PlayStation. For starters, he finally revealed that the PS5 (unofficial name) is indeed coming, which everyone pretty much knew, but couldn’t confirm.
He also revealed details about a time frame for release, hardware, audio and visual, and cloud-based gaming. While all of these topics are important in and of themselves, the topic of cloud-based gaming is especially interesting, due to recent pushes by Xbox and Google to enter into the world of cloud-based gaming. So, what exactly will the PS5 look like in a cloud-based gaming generation, and can it survive?
The PS5 will have an optical drive
During the interview, when asked about physical media, Cerny revealed that the PS5 would have an optical drive, and would not be a digital only console. Now, a few years ago a digital only console may have sounded crazy, but in 2019, it is a real thing. Xbox recently announced the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which is the same as an Xbox One S, but without an optical drive. A recent Inside Xbox episode revealed that it is set to release next month on May 7.
While there hasn’t been any leaks about the next generation Xbox console being a digital-only gaming console, it does make one wonder if Xbox is testing the waters to see if there is a market for a digital only console. The next generation primary Xbox console likely won’t release without an optical drive, but it is feasible to say that depending on the success of the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, Xbox could release a digital-only version of their next generation console.
In addition to their digital only console, Xbox has also been making big advances in the world of cloud-based gaming with Game Pass and Project xCloud. Game Pass is a subscription service, much like Netflix, that offers subscribers access to a large library of games for a low monthly price. All of the games included in the service are available for download only and give players instant access to hundreds of games. Project xCloud, on the other hand, is Microsoft’s way of bringing all their platforms into the gaming family. Essentially, it will allow players to play their games on any of their Microsoft devices. So, if you’re gaming on your Xbox console and are about to get in the car, you can switch over to your Microsoft Surface and continue playing. Project xCloud is still in the early stages, however, it is clear that Microsoft is making big pushes towards a cloud-based gaming future with these services.
Is Sony Playing Catch Up?
Sony on the other hand, hasn’t quite made the same advances as Microsoft. They offer a similar service to that of Game Pass, called PlayStation Now. However, it is more expensive, has fewer games, and lacks first party titles, so when compared with Game Pass, it isn’t very good. It kind of seems like a project PlayStation started to join the conversation, but then quickly forgot about and abandoned halfway through. If the future of gaming is cloud-based, this could put PlayStation behind its competition when the next generation of consoles comes around.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the PS5 and the next generation Xbox console for that matter is Google Stadia. That’s right, the tech giant Google has decided to throw their hat into the world of gaming. Announced back in March, Google Stadia is a cloud-based gaming platform that will allow users to play games from their Google devices at a high resolution and with little loading time.
With Stadia, there is no physical media, the platform is solely built around digital games. While we don’t know many details, it is set to launch later this year and we were promised more details this summer. However, if the model proves to be successful, it could potentially eliminate the need for optical drives altogether, and have a major influence on next generation consoles. It seems that Xbox would be prepared for this, but would PlayStation?
Since When is PlayStation “Cloud Gaming Pioneers?”
When asked about the future of gaming being cloud-based, Cerny replied, “we are cloud gaming pioneers, and our vision should become clear as we head toward launch.” Now, I love the optimism and confidence by Cerny, but saying that PlayStation is “cloud gaming pioneers” just seems a bit silly. While other first-party platforms have been making big strides in the world of cloud-based gaming, PlayStation has done very little. Unless Cerny is referring to some type of major announcement that is coming in the future, calling PlayStation “cloud gaming pioneers” is simply foolish when there is nothing to point to in order to back that up.
I am not trying to take away from anything that Sony has done in recent years with their gaming consoles. In fact, they owned 2018 with their first party games, like God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man, but when it comes to cloud-based gaming, they are far behind their competition. It doesn’t mean that they can’t adapt and find success, it simply means that they have a lot of work to do.
With Xbox and Google making major advances in cloud-based gaming, it seems that we are headed into a digital gaming future. While details about the next generation of gaming are still few and far between, it does seem that the future is trending towards cloud-based gaming. So, if PlayStation wants to continue their dominance with the PS5 during the next generation of consoles, they are likely going to need to adapt. If they don’t then they better get ready to fall.