Game Informer recently did an interview with Lorne Lanning from Oddworld Inhabitants, and during their interview, Lorne brought up a conversation he had with Sony Worldwide Studios President, Shuhei Yoshida, during a dinner mere days before the DICE 2015 convention.
In his conversation with Sony’s president, he asked him “What does the PS5 look like?” Shuhei Yoshida responded simply by saying, “You mean if…”
Whoa, what does this mean for the PS5? Should we panic? Let’s discuss.
Put Down Your Pitchforks and Torches, There’s More to This
Alright, before you gather a mob and attack Sony’s headquarters, let’s take a step back and look at the facts. Yes, this did happen, but no, it does spell the end of PlayStation. Don’t worry, I had my pitchfork and torch ready to go when I first read about this, but I looked into it and the reality is far less daunting than most outlets may tell you.
After Shuhei’s comment, Lorne asked him “Are you willing to say that on stage?” and Shuhei nodded, “Yeah, it’s an if.”
Lorne went on to elaborate on what Sony’s president meant by his comment:
“It was really interesting thing, he really didn’t give me a clear answer. He’s hinting at ‘we need to be more agile, none of us know what the future really looks like, so how do we adapt to it faster?’ To me that’s the way he was sort of thinking about it, which I think is the right way to think about it.”
As the interview went on Lorne, made the same comparison we’ve been seeing from other gaming executives in the industry when he pointed to smartphones as an example of how the future is going to progress.
As we all know, cell phones are moving forward at a rapidly expanding rate, with new models coming out much, much faster than any console we’ve ever seen. Lorne points out in the interview that the major cell phone companies are putting pressure on game developers to release their games on both mobile and console simultaneously with equal image quality.
This has led publishers like Square Enix to publish on mobile first, and then go to consoles. Lorne points out that this isn’t because of better graphics, but simply a choice based on where Square’s audience is playing their games.
Lorne explains the difference between consoles and cell phones at another point in the interview:
”The idea that you’re going to release a piece of technology that’s going to last for seven years into the future is becoming, I think, less and less viable even though the generations of platforms are lasting longer. So it seems like it’s in conflict.”
That’s what was said in the interview, but I have my own observations I’d like to make. Give me a moment to put out the flame on my torch before I burn my house down.
The PS5 is Still Coming: 4 Reasons Why
I would recommend checking out the actual interview between Lorne Lanning and Game Informer (embedded above) when you get a chance. It got a lot of gears turning in my head and made me scared for a moment about PS5’s future, but Lorne’s comments put things into a new perspective.
Here are my top reasons why this new information doesn’t threaten the future of PS5:
1. PS5 Won’t be a Traditional Game Console
When Shuhei Yoshida said “it’s an if,” he was referring to the natural progression of PlayStation consoles from the first until the fourth. When people hear PS5, they think of another box of hardware that will play games for 7-10 years, but it’s becoming more and more likely that PS5 won’t take the form of a typical console.
President Yoshida was simply saying that the concept of consoles, of a PS5 as we know it, is in flux. The industry is shifting and changing more than it ever has in the past. The PS5 will most likely take the form of a cloud-based console that can be tweaked and upgraded either physically, or through updates. It will be more adaptive and closer to the generational pace of smartphones than ever before.
2. This Isn’t the First Time Shuhei Yoshida Has Talked About PS5
Let’s not forget that President Yoshida is no stranger to cryptic comments about the PS5. In April of 2014, he was asked about the PS5 following a Q&A session with Mark Cerny at the Computer History Museum in California.
When asked if there will be a need for a PS5, Shuhei Yoshida responded by saying:
It’s really up to the game creators. If they still feel that we need more machine power, ‘we want to realize this, and that, and that, but we cannot do it with PS4’, if that’s the case there’s a good reason to have PS5, so that developers can create their vision. So, we’ll see.”
Back then, he put the future of the PS5 in the hands of developers, and that’s where I believe the future still lies.
3. Sony is Already Planning For the Future
While this new comment from President Yoshida sounds daunting, it’s not like Sony hasn’t already started planning their next move.
At the end of 2013, Sony’s Software Product Development Head, Scott Rohde, did an interview with MTV and said the following:
As soon as you launch a new console you have to take a breather, there’s gonna be a couple of years where we’re just enhancing this machine and making it as great as it can be. And of course very soon, we’ll start thinking about what we’ll do next. That’s the culture at Sony. We always have to do something that’s bigger and better than what’s already been done.
This comment is further solidified by the Sony job posting that appeared in June of 2015 which was looking for someone to work on Sony’s “next generation gaming system.”
Sony is a business, which means they’re already planning on what’s coming next, and they’re not afraid to admit it. Still, what they’re planning may not be PS5 as we know it, hence Shuhei’s comment.
4. PS4.5 May be The Future
I’ve already spoken out against the idea of a PS4.5, but as much as I don’t want to see something like that happen this generation, it could be the way Sony plans to move forward. I don’t like the idea of a PS4.5 because it would fracture the market and scorn recent adopters of the PS4, but an upgraded console sounds a lot like the way smartphones are released these days.
If Sony goes through with PS4.5, then it will open the door for more incremental upgrades in the future. Sony could start releasing a new, slightly tweaked console, every few years from here on out, and slowly evolve their traditional system into a cloud-based streaming console to avoid taking the leap and scaring off traditional gamers like myself.
The gamer in me is still married to the concept of a generation that lasts 7-10 years, but it’s looking like that won’t be a viable solution going forward.
PS5 Isn’t An ‘If’, It’s a ‘What?’
The way I look at it, when Shuhei Yoshida made that comment about the PS5, he wasn’t calling into question the future of PlayStation. Instead, he was simply admitting that he didn’t know what the future held. Will they even call the next evolution in gaming PS5? He wasn’t sure, and he still may not know, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
What form do you think the PS5 will take? How do you interpret this new information? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are the opinions of the author (Bradley Ramsey) and do not yet represent facts or the opinions of Sony Computer Entertainment. Although it will probably be accurate, for now it is pure speculation. Thanks for reading!