The PlayStation 4 is still going strong, not least thanks to being reinvigorated by the launch of the Slim, Pro and PlayStation VR, expanding the gaming potential of the system. Still, the games industry doesn't tend to sit still for long, and we're confident that deep in Sony's HQ there are engineers quietly working on the PlayStation 5.
Whatever the PS5 ends up being, we can be pretty certain it's still a couple of years away, but why should that stop us rampantly speculating on what the next-gen console might feature?
Obviously, we'd expect some ramped up specs, but what other features could the PS5 include? Will it be portable like the Nintendo Switch, or feature true [email protected] gameplay capabilities? While nothing has been officially confirmed by Sony, we break down the possibilities as best we can right here.
When is the PS5 release date?
Sony President and CEO Shawn Layden told German site Golem.de in June 2017 that it would “probably be some time” before the PS5 is revealed.
During Sony's May 2018 Corporate Strategy Meeting, PlayStation boss John Kodera announced that, after five years on the market, the PlayStation 4 is entering the end of its lifecycle. Kodera also clarified PS5 rumours by stating that the next PlayStation system won't launch until at least 2021.
However, this seems to be contradicted by Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony boss, during an October 2018 interview with the Financial Times where he claims that "at this point, what I can say is it's necessary to have a next-generation hardware" leading us to believe that development of the next-gen console is in full swing.
This is backed up by claims made by industry analyst Michael Pachter, who claims that the PS5 could be released as soon as 2020. IDC's Lewis Ward also believes that we'll see the PS5 and Xbox Two in 2020, even going as far as to claim that both next-gen consoles will be revealed at E3 2020.
Considering the fact that Sony has confirmed it'll have no E3 2019 presence, we assume that the company is concentrating on games and hardware for the next-gen console. Of course, we'll update this article as soon as more concrete details on the PS5 release date are available.
How much will it cost?
Without knowing exactly what's on offer, it's impossible to accurately predict how much the PS5 will cost. With the PS2 costing £300, the PS3 £425 and the PS4 £349, we can only assume Sony will stick around the £400 mark. After all, it has other consoles and gaming PCs with which to compete.
What will the PS5 look like?
Concept images of the PS5 have already popped up on the web. We suspect it will retain the black box, blue light theme, but will be sleeker and more stylish than before.
Streaming service PlayStation Now and digital downloads could be enough to let it do away with discs, so it could even be more compact too.
Here are a few concept designs we've found on the web to give you some idea of a possible design:
PS5 Concept Art.... ?? pic.twitter.com/vv4MthIFzI— WECKLESS™ (@_WECKLESS) June 17, 2018
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What will the PS5 feature?
As you might expect, very little is known about the PS5's hardware. Going by AMD's enthusiasm over the PS4, we can only assume it will remain onboard the Sony ship for the PS5.
As mentioned above, one possible change would be to see the PS5 drop the optical drive, in favour of a focus on digital downloads and the PlayStation Now streaming service - that would allow them to either make the design more compact or leave more space and power for higher spec processing and graphics units.
This is backed up by a claim from Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata while speaking to Xbox Magazine. During the interview, Tabata suggested that video games will follow the path of video and music once the Xbox Two and PS5 get here by going fully cloud-based. This allows gamers instant access to a large number of games, depending on the speed of your internet connection.
Of course, it's only one man's prediction rather than hard evidence, but we agree that it'd be a great feature of the console.
On the other hand, ditching physical games is a sensitive subject. Retailers are understandably uncomfortable about the shift to digital, and might be less willing to stock or market a PS5 that they couldn't sell games for. Since Sony needs their support to sell the console itself, we'd be surprised if it was willing to ditch the disc drive entirely.
The PS5 could also offer backwards compatibility, if a recently-published patent is to be believed. The patent, initially filed way back in 2017, has surfaced online and caused a stir among PS4 gamers. Why? Though backwards compatibility isn't outright detailed, the patent discusses a process that can allow new devices to run software from legacy software - sounds like backwards compatibility to us.
The patent goes on to explain that the device is able to 'interpret' the architecture of older devices and allow the platform to run legacy content, or PS4 games, to a decent standard. It's also backed by investors including the chief architect for the PS4, Mark Cerny, and principal programmer at Sony Europe, Simon Pilgrim.
Again, we'll update this article as more details become available.
Will there be a new DualShock controller?
A new PlayStation console will likely bring with it the launch of a new DualShock controller - so what can we expect from a potential DualShock 5?
First up, what we don't expect to change. Sony has kept the basic button layout constant across the range of DualShock controllers, so don't expect any updates there. We'd also expect it to keep the gyroscopic controls, along with the light bar and touchpad that have made the DualShock 4 stand out from the competition this generation.
One of the big improvements we expect is Sony's own take on HD Rumble, an innovation features in the Switch's Joy-Cons and Pro Controller. This advanced haptic tech allows players to detect things as subtle as the number of virtual ball bearings rattling around in 1-2-Switch, and we'd be surprised if Sony's next controller doesn't feature its own take on the technology.
It's also possible we'll see the addition of some of the features commonly seen on pro-level controllers such as Microsoft's own Xbox One Elite controller, including back paddles and customisable buttons. These are increasingly popular, but they're also probably more than the average gamer needs, so we'd be surprised to see them on the base controller - but expect some sort of DualShock 5 Pro to include them.
Will the PS5 offer VR support?
With the huge success of the PlayStation VR, it's no surprise that the PS5 is likely to include virtual reality support. Still, there are some unsettled questions about what exactly that support will look like.
One possibility is that Sony will release an updated, enhanced version of PlayStation VR to coincide with the PS5 launch. By 2020, PSVR will have been out for four years, and with the rapid advancements in virtual reality technology right now, we'd expect Sony to have a few improvements ready by then. They could include improved tracking, better visuals, more control options, and probably a few things we haven't even thought of.
The other big question is whether Sony will include built-in VR support with the PS5, packaging the two products together to make VR a core part of the PlayStation 5. While we can see the advantages - it'd be a great way to further the company's dominance of the mass-market VR industry - the downsides seem too significant. It would massively drive up the base cost of the console, and leave it ripe to be undercut by Microsoft offering a more traditional gaming experience for a much lower price.
Will it be portable like the Nintendo Switch?
One of the other major questions around the PS5 is whether Sony will follow in Nintendo's footsteps and release a handheld/home console hybrid along the lines of the Nintendo Switch.
There's some precedent of course - Sony previously released both the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita, and the latter can even link up to the PS4 and be used as a remote screen and controller for games.
Still, disappointing sales of the Vita mean it's unlikely that Sony has much appetite to return to the portable market. And besides, the PS4's current dominance was driven partly by its position as the most powerful console on the market - we just can't see Sony making the sort of compromises on specs necessary to make the portable form-factor work.
However, May 2018 comments from John Kodera suggest that it could be on the table. In an interview with Bloomberg, Kodera said "In my opinion, rather than separating portable gaming from consoles, it’s necessary to continue thinking of it [portable gaming] as one method to deliver more gaming experiences and exploring what our customers want from portable. We want to think about many options."