"The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create."
- Leonard I. Sweet
The way we learn from our mistakes is by making them in the first place. Is life not a cycle of constant lessons that we learn? It was tempting to place the classic quote “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it” at the beginning of this article, but I chose another one to set the mood. We are indeed the masters of our own destiny, and the future is ours to mold and create. What’s in the past is done, and it cannot be changed, but the future is a constantly shifting canvas. We are the artists my friends, the wielders of the paint and brushes. It’s time to begin painting our image of the future now, before someone else does it for us.
Video game consoles flow from one into the next, just as generations of a family line. The new generation takes the lessons from the old and makes steps to prevent those mistakes while also building a legacy of their own. The PS3 evolved over the course of it’s life span, and the successes of that time are seen in the design of the PS4. In addition, the elements of the PS3 that didn’t work as well were modified and changed in the PS4. We already can see some of the changes happening before our very eyes. The future is simply a matter of following the patterns. I may not be a time traveler, but if you continue reading, you’ll find yourself in the future, if only for a moment.
I’m going to let you finish, but this stuff needs to change
There were several lessons that Sony took from the PS3 when they began talking about the PS4. The first of which was the launch pricing. When the PS3 came out, it was six hundred dollars. Even now, that is a lot of money to pour into a game console. We could go into economics and the fact that the cost of living is so high, but suffice to say that choice of pricing was not wise on their part. This was remedied in the PS4, but at a cost. The PS4 released at a price of four hundred dollars, which was a far more reasonable starting point.
In addition, the structure of the PS3 was about as easy to understand as a wall of egyptian hieroglyphs. The only developers that could truly take advantage of the PS3 were the ones who knew how to work the infamous Cell Processor. Even with the power it had, the lack of consistent, quality titles for the system was enough to warrant a change. Did I love Uncharted, God of War, and Killzone? Of course, but I wanted every game to stand up to that level of quality. This was fixed in the PS4 with Sony choosing a very traditional, easy to develop for system architecture that more closely mimicked the style of modern PC’s. Because of this, PS4 has already been lauded by developers as a console that is far more easy to create games for. We all know that when the developer is happy, the gamers are too.
Finally, the PS3 was loved for its lack of region coding and the fact that the games were easy to buy and sell. When the Xbox One originally announced that it would not allow the playing of used games, this sent the community into an uproar. People like to feel a sense of ownership with their games, which we’ll discuss later in the article, but Sony was quick to say that the PS4 would continue to be a flexible machine that could play used games and would not require an internet connection.
It’s easy to see how these consoles have benefited by learning from the mistakes of the last generation. In addition, it is clear the each console acts as a testing ground for new and innovative ideas that if successful will carry on to the next generation. The PS4 has enough going on now and in the future, that we can predict how these elements will evolve into the PS5
Pricing is everything, but you get what you pay for
In my article about the specs of the PS5, I discussed some pretty impressive elements that will most likely be used in the PS5. Does this mean the PS5 will cost seven, eight, or even a thousand dollars? We won’t go into that just yet, but if we consider that most of this technology such as Light Peak and Head Mounted Displays are going to be fairly common in ten years, we can assume that costs will be lower as more efficient methods of production are developed.
The PS5’s technology will be widespread enough that mass production won’t be an issue. This is good for the consumer as it will bring down costs. In addition the state of the economy could, and hopefully should be better in ten years time. Taking into account inflation and other potential indicators, the PS5 may not be as expensive as we think. A major component that will decide the cost of the system is going to be how much of the system is digital. It’s no secret that digital distribution is far less expensive than making discs, but will the general consumer be open to such a concept?
The fact of the matter is that the PS4 benefited greatly from being competitively priced. In the long run, a hundred dollars less than the competition is going to pay off. This was a major plus for the PS4, and Sony would be wise to continue the trend into the PS5.
Forget discs, Just beam it straight to my system
Digital downloads are becoming more and more prevalent but there’s no denying that people still like to have a physical disc. That being said, the concept is becoming more implemented. Even though games still come out on discs, they are also being offered as digital downloads. With the PS4, the entire games must be installed to the hard drive, and we’re talking up to fifty gigabytes per game. The storage of discs is only so large before it’s simply not logical to use discs anymore.
Part of the reason that downloads receive so much hate is that people don’t like waiting for their games to finish installing. PS4 implemented a feature where you can begin playing before it’s finished, but the PS5 will be released in the time of Light Peak technology, which promises download speeds of up to ten gigabytes per second. Waiting won’t be an issue. When the PS5 releases, discs will be a thing of the past, and Sony is already prepping consumers with this change by having the option to download every game you purchase.
It’s a smart move on their part to do it this way, as massive change is typically frowned upon. Gradual change however sneaks up and strikes before you know it, and therefore have time to complain about it. Ultimately though, this kind of change is good for the industry as it removes the barrier between the gamer and their games.
There’s never enough space to hold everything!
With digital downloads on the rise, the subject of storage space for all this digital content is also rising. The PS4 launched with a five hundred gigabyte hard drive, but this is honestly not enough. By the time the PS5 releases, we could be seeing hard drives that hold as much as 100 terabytes which is a million gigabytes! Of course, this amount of space becomes moot if games themselves are extremely large in download size.
Another option is the onset of cloud-based gaming. This is hinted at with the Gaikai service on PS4, and if successful will yield a great method of alleviating the need for storage. By streaming content directly to you, there isn’t a need for downloads or storage. Again, this would have to overcome the consumer’s need to feel a sense of ownership, but again this is something that is being gradually used in the PS4 to test the waters. Take PlayStation Now for example. This service allows you to "rent" games and have them stream straight to your console in the same way you watch a movie or TV show on Netflix.
Remote servers (the cloud) are running the game and incorporating your inputs. You don't have a disc, nor do you have a download. You are merely streaming the game straight to your console. It's crazy to imagine such a world, and for me, it does bring forth questions about ownership and of course, the reliability of internet connections.
By the time the PS5 is out, there will be far more reliable internet options available to the public. It will also be more widespread. So, while PlayStation Now isn't enjoying massive success, it's clearly working for Sony because in April of 2015, when the cloud gaming service OnLive when under, Sony made it a point to purchase the technology behind their service. Sounds a little too good to be a coincidence if you ask me.
Granted, it’s better to own something you can see and touch, but people are willing to sacrifice tangible physicality for convenience. With the fast paced lifestyle of most people now and more so in the future, easy access to entertainment will be paramount.
Controller? No Controller? Make up your mind!
Up until now, consoles have had a very similar set up. You plug it into your TV, you grab your controller, and you get to gaming. With the PS5, you may still use your TV, but odds are you’ll just strap into your system instead. Virtual and augmented reality is massively popular again, with the PS4 we’ve already seen it utilized in the PS4 Camera’s game The Playroom. The Oculus Rift is pioneering a new age of head mounted virtual displays as well. Even devices such as Google Glass are proving that the idea of modifying the world around you isn’t as much science fiction as it is science fact.
With the PS4, we’ll see more augmented reality with the PS4 Camera and the DualShock 4’s light bar, but this is merely an appetizer for the main course, which is a fully immersive virtual experience. The PS5 will place you into your world like nothing else can. When you leave the house, you’ll bring your Head Mounted Display with you. This is an evolution of the remote play concept seen between the PS4 and the PlayStation Vita.
We're already seeing this kind of technology emerging from Sony. Anyone who has heard of Project Morpheus will know what I'm talking about. Project Morpheus is a fully functional virtual reality headset coming out for the PS4 that will utilize the PlayStation Camera to track your head movements as you look straight into the world of your game. Games have already been shown for this device and it's expected that we'll hear more about pricing and a release date at E3 2015.
On top of this, Sony is also working on an augmented reality headset called SmartEyeglass which is a wearable set of glasses that shows menus, information, and holograms over your normal view. Unlike virtual reality, this type of technology changes or "augments" what you see in front of you.
It's clear that Sony isn't just throwing all of their eggs into the AR or VR basket. It could be possible that the PS5 uses VR when you're at home and AR when you're on the go, which would allow you to function like normal, but also carry your games and your connection to the PSN with you. It's too early to say if the PS5 will ditch the controller altogether, but I imagine it either be extremely similar to the DualShock 4, or Sony will choose to simplify it and rely more on the motion tracking/virtual and augmented reality to deliver their new games.
The Future resides in the present
Each console leads into the next. Watch the PS4, see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll soon see patterns forming that will show you how the future will take these concepts and change them from budding ideas to blossoming concepts. The PS5 will be the culmination of every success and failure thus far in the gaming industry. With all of these lessons learned, we will immerse ourselves in a machine more perfect than anything else before it.
What elements of the PS4 do you think will evolve into the PS5? How do you think the two consoles will stack up? Tell us in the comments!