Hardcore gamers have probably heard about Michael Pachter. He's an analyst at Webbush Securities and famous for his gaming predictions. He's right every once and a while, but I wouldn't call him gaming's Nostradamus. Even so, it's always interesting to see what he thinks and compare it with our own thoughts.
To this end, he has revealed yet another prediction during a podcast. He seems to believe that Sony is going to wait and see what happens with Project Scorpio before they go public with PS5. How does that make you feel? Is that even something we think is possible? It's time to discuss.
Pachter's Prediction: A Hint of Truth?
Pachter's predictions are often met with mixed reactions from the community. Sometimes he's pretty close, but other times he makes a vast majority of the community's eyes roll. We've got a new prediction from him, courtesy of a podcast where he mentioned a new prediction about the PS5.
Sony has been busy as of late with the release of PS4 Pro, PlayStation VR, and the PS4 Slim. It's safe to say they won't be releasing the PS5 right away, but according to Pachter, they could be waiting on Microsoft:
"You know, I think Sony's probably going to wait and see what happens with the Scorpio, and if the Scorpio puts pressure on them and if it's really that much better, maybe they'll accelerate. But you know, back to my 4K TV thing, I don't see 4K broadcast until 2020, and I think 4K broadcast is what's going to cause people to switch their TVs over. So, I think that's a good time to launch a new console. Sony should also work on backward compatibility this time.
Okay, this is a lot packed into a few sentences, so let's break this down. Michael Pachter thinks that Sony will modify their timeline for PS5 based on the performance of Scorpio/Xbox 2. He also thinks that, if the console does well, they'll push up the release date.
In addition, he believes that 4K broadcast through mainstream cable providers is what will cause people to switch over, and that it will won't happen until 2020. He also pointed out backwards compatibility. Do we agree with this? Well, yes and no. Let's dive in and see how I feel about these predictions.
Michael Pachter's Vision For The PS5: Releasing in 2019?
Michael Pachter spoke with Gaming Bolt in the wake of Shawn Layden's PS5 comments, and of course, the analyst had some predictions to throw out for those interested in his wisdom. Pachter confirmed his beliefs that the PS5 will indeed be backwards compatible, but he also mentioned a release date: 2019.
In Pachter's words:
"The PlayStation 4 Pro is better (from a technical perspective) than the PS4, so I think that's a half step towards the PlayStation 5. I think the PS5 will another half step. It will surely support 4K. Will it support 240 frames per second? Great. Will it play games that were made for the PlayStation 4 Pro? That's the question. I think it will. So I think they will build a console that will be backwards compatible with the PS4 Pro. So I think it will be perceived by the consumers to be a half step and I think Shawn is telling the truth when he says it will be a full-fledged console."
Pachter went on to explain his prediction, saying that Sony is waiting for the 4K market to mature more before they release their new console. He admits that it could be 2019 or 2020, but leans towards the former. According to his predictions, Sony already has the PS5 nailed down, they're just waiting for the timing to be right.
While Michael Pachter is championing a 2019 release date, another analyst begs to differ.
Damian Thong Predicts Sony Will Release PS5 in 2018
Taking cues from Michael Pachter, another analyst has weighed in with their own unique argument. Damian Thong has released an analysis, which was featured on Barrons. In this report, he predicts that Sony's profits will grow to an all-time high for the fiscal year ending March, 2019. The catalyst for this growth includes multiple factors, but one of the big ones? Yep, you guessed it, the PS5. In his analysis, Thong wrote:
"While we have tempered expectations to account for rivalry with Microsoft/Xbox and PC gaming, we note that the success of PS VR (which has reached 915K units sold) highlights the health of the ecosystem. We expect Sony to launch a 10 TFLOPS ‘PS5’ in 2018 to secure the installed base."
Wait, what? Are we seeing this right? Microsoft is here bragging about their six teraflops with Scorpio/Xbox 2, and Sony is bringing the heat with a 10 TFLOPs system? While it's hard to say exactly what evidence went into this prediction, Mr. Thong seems to believe Sony is planning a gargantuan system release to crush Scorpio in 2018. Some big predictions here, so let's break them down and add our own speculation.
Breaking Down Pachter and Thong's Claims: A Few Hits and Misses
Okay, so now we've seen what he thinks, it's time to break down his claims and see if we agree with them:
1. Sony's Timeline Will Be Decided by Scorpio
I have a hard time swallowing this one. I think Sony has a healthy level of understanding when it comes to watching and countering their competition. If you don't believe me, see their sick burn below from when Microsoft originally said people couldn't share games on Xbox One:
Now, they didn't just suddenly decide to change their stance to hit Microsoft hard. They altered their marketing to highlight a feature that was always there. This brings me to my point: Sony has always proactive instead of reactive.
Another example: they were working on PlayStation VR long before Oculus Rift or HTC Vive made the technology mainstream. In 2014, Sony's R&D engineer Anton Mikhailov said his team had been working on PlayStation VR since 2011.
Meanwhile, the first Oculus prototype didn't even get shown to potential investors until 2011, and it wasn't until even later that the first Kickstarter went up. Also, HTC Vive didn't become more than a twinkle in the eyes of its creators until 2014.
Case and point: Sony doesn't "wait and see." Whether they tell us about it or not, they are always working on something new in the pipeline. Their R&D is incredible, and because of this, I can't imagine they will drastically change their plans because of Scorpio's success or failure. Yes, they will react to it, but it won't drive their business decisions.
That's never been the case, and it's not going to start now. I'm giving this prediction a thumbs down. On to the next.
2. 4K Won't Become Mainstream Until Cable Broadcasts Embrace It
Our next prediction is that people won't start switching over to 4K en masse until we have 4K broadcasts, which Pachter says will be in 2020. Here's the thing, cable is dying.
Think about it, when was the last time you watched TV? It's probably been forever. Instead, you use services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube to find your video content and TV shows. People view billions of hours of online content and broadband-only households are growing by exponential margins each year.
No, broadcast will not define the 4K adoption rate. Instead, we'll see people switch over when the competition starts doing 4K. When Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu are all offering entire catalogs of 4K content, that's when we'll see people switch over.
Sony clearly agrees with me, seeing as how the PS4 Pro doesn't include a 4K UHD drive. Now, this choice isn't the best decision, but their reasoning behind it involved focusing on streaming 4K content from, you guessed it, Netflix and other services.
Another thumbs down for this one.
3. Sony Needs to Focus on Backwards Compatibility
I'll give Pachter this one. Sony does need to find some kind of solution for backwards compatibility. Now, the idea of bringing all of your games forward like Microsoft is promising with Scorpio is awesome, but if every future game has to be compatible with older consoles (which is what Microsoft is doing), then you run into a problem.
I can see bringing old stuff forward, but bringing new stuff back to older consoles seems like a great way to hamper progress. If everything is playable on Xbox Two (Project Scorpio), and on Xbox One, then developers can't truly focus on the new hardware because they're too busy making it work on the older system.
So, while I do agree that Sony should implement some kind of compatibility for past titles, I don't think they need to make PS5 games play on PS4 the ways they've done with PS4 Pro. For now, it's a necessary evil to not divide the market, but if we're moving into a new generation, let's see some leaps instead of timid steps.
4. PS5 Will Be a 'Half-Step'
In his latest commentary, Michael Pachter described the PS5 as something similar to the PS4 Pro. In fact, he went so far as to call it a "half-step" as opposed to a quantum leap. His argument was that it couldn't be that much faster than current technology. He seems to be playing his cards close to his chest with these predictions, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and declare that the PS5 won't feel like a "half-step."
While 4K will be there, and it will probably be a focus for the new console, it will be joined by a host of new features and technologies that make the PS5 feel like a next-gen machine. Having found its legs, VR could easily evolve on the new console, especially given new technology and higher bandwidths of power in the PS5.
True 4K, the kind that Microsoft is touting with Xbox One X, will be a trivial matter on the PS5. By then, it won't be shocking, but expected. Backwards compatibility will ensure that the last of the PS4's exclusives will get their time in the limelight, but Sony won't be content with just making a 4K machine. It will be, as it's always been, about the games.
More power means bigger and better experiences. VR creates an entirely new level of immersion, and the raw talent aligned with Sony ensures that the power of the PS5 will not go to waste. Even if the power of the console doesn't exceed modern PCs, it will be used to the fullest potential, as it's always been. Sony isn't going to announce or release a PS5 until they can give us something that is deserving of the name.
This talk about half-steps and iterative consoles is something that, I believe, was used to extend the current generation in the wake of rapidly expanding technology, but it is by no means the new norm for Sony. Microsoft seems to be embracing it for the time being, but Sony simply made the PS4 Pro as means to enter the 4K scene and keep hardcore gamers enticed with hardware power long enough for them to finalize and prepare for the PS5.
And now, on the to the most interesting of our predictions.
5. PS5 Will Release in 2018
Damian Thong is a pretty respectable analyst, but I have to wonder if this could happen. Sony just released PS4 Pro at the end of 2016, and when they did, they said it would be their focus for the foreseeable future. Could that future really be less than two years? I'm divided on this information, because it would be awesome to see Sony crush Scorpio with a 10 TFLOPs system like the analysis suggests, but at the same time, what was the point of the Pro in that case?
Sony's never been one to screw over their customers. Yes, things like the Move kinda flopped, but if you still have them, you're using them in VR, so it wasn't all wasted tech. Case and point: I just don't see Sony releasing PS5 in 2018. An announcement maybe, but not the actual console.
So Pachter's predictions are 1-for-4 for me, and Damian Thong's prediction just sounds too good to be true, but what do you think? Is he on to something with any of this? Or, do you agree with me on the above points? Let us know in the comments!