In the two short months of 2018 we’ve seen plenty more news, leaks and all-round industry chatter around Sony’s next PlayStation 5 console than a lot of last year.
Whilst interesting, it’s unlikely that this is indicative of any such release date or announcement getting closer.
It is worth remembering after all that the only official line we’ve heard, a quote from Sony PlayStation boss Shawn Layden last year, confirmed that the new console would “probably be some time” before it arrives.
Likewise, despite a rare drop in PS4 sales at the end of last year – which leading tech website ArsTechnica.com hailed as a ‘PS4 shipment peak’ that could lead to “the long countdown to the PlayStation 5” – it does feel that the PS4 still has plenty more to offer the current console generation.
That being said, a new report from PSU.com has suggested that Sony are already starting to look at how they might be able to innovate their existing PS4 hardware for their next flagship console.
“A few weeks ago, we reported that PlayStation were fishing for opinions on their upcoming console, the PlayStation 5. A group called PlayStation Voice were apparently sending out emails surveying members of its closed community,” PSU explained first.
“At the time, we weren’t convinced about the legitimacy of the mail, and couldn’t find enough information about PlayStation Voice and their connection to PlayStation.”
“PlayStation Voice is a real community selected by a consumer insight agency called Join the Dots,” continued PSU.com
“Its aim is to get closer to consumers by creating online communities on behalf of multiple big brands. They then gather information from these communities and present it back to their clients. In this case, PlayStation Voice has been gathering data for PlayStation.”
In short, it looks like the emails are indeed legit and that, indirectly, Sony are starting to gather and canvas opinions on what the PlayStation 5 should look like.
However, this doesn’t give us any clearer indication on when such a console could arrive. Or another way of looking at it, is that, if Sony and their data gathering subsidiaries are only starting to discuss what a PS5 might look like, it’s unlikely to be that far down the line in terms or planning or production.
Which makes sense, and does tally with the vast majority of predictions from key industry analysts, developers and publishers.
For example, it was only last week in which Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick effectively said that things are only going to get better for the PlayStation 4.
“We have yet to see entirely what the technology can allow,” the executive said, when talking about Sony’s new gaming hardware.
“We’ve had a couple of releases for new-gen, but I don’t think we remotely have seen what can be done, and that’s super exciting. And that speaks to many of our titles. Hopefully all of our titles, ultimately.”
Speaking on The 1099 Podcast back in September last year, Pachter said: “I think that’s exactly when you’ll see one (PS5) 2019 or 2020, and if I had to bet, it’s 2020.
“Sony’s making so much money with the PS4 that I think they’ll continue to milk it as long as they can milk it.
“And I think the natural extension of that is the PS4 Pro becomes the default PS4, and they just knock that price down to $250 when they can and they keep selling it — a tonne of those.
“The PS5 is probably going to be their real 4K device, and so it just feels to me that they’re not going to launch the PS5 until sales momentum for the PS4 slows, and it just hasn’t.
“So you certainly get through 2017, 2018, and I just don’t see it slowing in 2018 which should prop them to launch something in 2019.
“If it slows in 2019, they’re probably launching in 2020.”
More recently, industry expert Christopher Dring, publisher for Gameindustry.biz, told followers on Twitter that he’d been hearing rumours of “Sony slowing up progress on PS5 rattling around for a few months”.
As we’ve mentioned before, the future for all three console makers might seem complicated, but in reality, we have a fairly good idea what they’re all planning in the years ahead.
Nintendo are digging in for the long haul with the Nintendo Switch, tentatively telling investors this week that they anticipate the console to stick around for longer than the normal 5-6 year cycle.
Microsoft is breaking new ground for the company with Xbox One X, the worlds most powerful console. And though it might have a lack of first-party exclusives, it’s arguably the best place to play for third party games right now.
Sony, meanwhile, seem content to trundle along with the existing PS4 (Pro), which might be declining in hardware sales, but is still selling like hotcakes and seeing PlayStation software thrive.
It’s worth adding that their latest report also highlighted a 50% operating profit increase, from ¥50 billion to ¥85.4 billion ($778m), with huge titles like God of War, Spiderman, The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding on the horizon too.
The PS5 is coming, sure, but there’s still plenty of life left in the PS4 regardless of a dip in sales.