By any measurable metric, there’s no doubt that Sony’s PS5 reveal stream was a success. The event was the most watched gaming live stream in YouTube history. It surpassed every previous live stream and E3 show. The stream is now PlayStation’s most liked YouTube video ever. PS5 was trending world wide on all major social media platforms. We should have expected as much – The PS5 logo was the most liked gaming Instagram post of all time and the Tweet for the announcement of the Dual Sense controller broke records on Twitter. The cat is officially out of the bag and everybody wants to know about it.
Sony came out swinging with this reveal. To show 26 games, 19 of which are exclusive to the PS5 in some capacity, is immense. This included actual gameplay presentations which have been the main criticism of the Xbox Series X events so far. It was also a varied show with something for everyone – a racing sim, a vehicle combat game, 2 x AAA sequels to open world games that won more than a few GOTY nominations, a game about a Cat in a robotic future, 2 horror titles, an immersive sim from the best developer in that genre…the list goes on and on. I think it’s safe to say that if you watched this event and didn’t see anything that got you even mildly excited, that’s more to do with your existing dedication to a different gaming brand than the content of this showing.
There were some notable absences from this presentation though. Because Sony had waited for so long after Microsoft had revealed the Xbox Series X, many expected Sony to pull out all of their big hitters and really go for it all guns blazing. In reality, it was measured and restrained. Sony didn’t go chasing hype with early game announcements and CGI teaser trailers for games they knew people would go bonkers for. They didn’t have to.
This is the strength and depth that Sony currently wield in the gaming market. With the PS5 reveal event, they blew away a number of records, building more hype and viewership than any other E3 show in history – and they didn’t put all of their cards on the table.
Sony Santa Monica, widely rumoured to be working on the next God of War game, were absent. Bend Studios, who were recently recruiting for a AAA PS5 game featuring “cinematic-quality facial articulation”, were nowhere to be seen. San Diego Studio, who develop the MLB The Show games (and are expected to be developing the game for the Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch next year) but often develop other franchises too, weren’t on display. Pixelopus, who finished development on Concrete Genie in 2019, are likely working on something new for PS5. Japan Studio are likely working on something other than supporting Demon’s Souls and Astro’s Playroom. Rumour is that it’s a reboot of Silent Hill. Media Molecule, Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch are all likely working on enhanced PS5 versions of their latest/upcoming games. London Studio seems to have shifted entirely to VR projects these days but they’re also a first party studio without an announced project. Even having announced a slew of first party games for PS5 during the reveal, there’s obviously much more in the pipeline. This is something Jim Ryan confirmed to the BBC when he said “this is just the start. There are so many more games that we have in development.“.
It’s not just first party exclusives we’ve got to look forward too. At the start of every generation, many third party publishers will take deals from console manufacturers for exclusivity, timed or otherwise. These work for a variety of reason – it’s easier to make just 1 version of a game on hardware you’re not entirely familiar with, you grab many more headlines as an exclusive game during a console launch and the payment from the manufacturer usually reduces any risk associated with the game. We’ve already seen this in action with Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, both of which will launch on PS5 first but come to other consoles at some point later. We’ll likely see more of these in the near future as well as content exclusivity agreements like Sony have with Call of Duty. There’s a number of long in development PS4 games that are rumoured to have jumped development to the PS5 too – Wild being among them.
We’ve not yet seen the fruits of Shuhei Yoshida’s new position as Head of Independent Developer Initiative at Sony Interactive Entertainment either. Charged with rooting out ‘new and unexpected experiences’ in the industry and then bring them to PlayStation, Yoshida is in prime position to deliver some of those memorable but obscure games Sony are known for (Tokyo Jungle, Puppeteer and Folklore) given his track record.
Lastly, we’ve yet to hear about any peripherals and services. We know PSVR is compatible with the PS5 but the sheer number of patents and trademarks that Sony have been making over the last few years indicate there’s a revision in development. How will PlayStation Plus evolve with the arrival of the PS5? Then there’s PlayStation Now – with Sony’s partnership with Microsoft to “collaborate on new cloud-based solutions for gaming experiences and AI solutions”, we could see big changes to the streaming service in the future.
When you list it down, what we saw at the PlayStation 5 “Future of Gaming” event was the tip of the iceberg – but it’s just the tip that has totally transformed the shape of the next-gen conversation in the space of a few days. What Sony have left unsaid – price, the status of some of their biggest IP’s, the capabilities of the boost mode, the UI re-design, the evolution of services and much more – mean the hype is still all about them rather than then competition. While there was a palpable buzz around the Xbox Series X and how Microsoft were taking the fight to PlayStation, it took Sony 74 minuets to change that conversation into “How does Microsoft possibly respond to an event like that?”.
Microsoft have already announced that the next Xbox Series X 20/20 presentation, scheduled for July, will feature their first party studios (with some third party partners included). There’s expected to be new game announcements, updates on Xbox One titles getting Series X enhancements and gameplay footage (what a concept!). According to Communications Manager at Wushu Studios and known tipster Shinobi602, Microsoft are “bringing the heat in July”. The pressure is now on Microsoft to deliver more than just Haloforzagears for the 7th time.
No matter what Microsoft bring to the table though, Sony’s near silent and measured hype management mean that a simple teaser trailer for the likes of God of War, Days Gone 2 or that heavily rumoured Silent Hill reboot would totally undermine any hype Xbox can build.
What Sony haven’t announced really is their greatest strength simply because there’s so much of it, leaving everybody wanting to learn more.
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