Can you believe the PS5 is coming out this year? (Editor’s Note: Maybe. A good majority of this was written before coronavirus potentially delayed it and before Microsoft did their own deep dive into the Xbox Series X yesterday.) If you’re anything like us here at PSLS, the PS4 has been a major part of your life since 2013 and now, seven years later, we’re getting a new and improved box. But there’s still so much we don’t know about Sony’s new console as the Japanese company has been very quiet when it comes to revealing details about the PS5 (though, we recently got to see its new logo at CES 2020 and Sony’s getting ready to lift the lid on details tomorrow!). With Sony skipping E3 again this year, we’ll have to wait for Sony to give us all the details on its own time. And now that Microsoft has officially revealed (and extensively detailed) its new console—Xbox Series X—the ball is in Sony’s court to blow the doors off. The PS4 was—and still is—great, but there are many improvements to be made with the new system.
But what can we look forward to with the PS5? Here are five features it should most definitely have at launch.
Five Features the PS5 Should Have at Launch
PS Plus and PS Now Improvements
This generation has been historic on many fronts, especially with the integration of subscription-based services like PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass (along with what feels like dozens of others). Sure, Sony has dominated this generation, but there’s no denying how successful Microsoft has been with its Game Pass service—one that swept the industry by storm with unprecedented features like the ability to download all first-party Microsoft games day-and-date with their release and offering an impressive lineup of over 200 titles. Better yet is Game Pass Ultimate, which bundles Xbox Live and Game Pass together for an all-encompassing package.
Sony’s PlayStation Now service is similar but severely lacking in comparison. The inability to download PS3 games is a huge hindrance—instead, you can only stream them, which unfortunately can be inconsistent due to latency issues. And on the Plus side, ever since Sony removed PS3 and PS Vita games from the monthly offerings, some may argue that the service has suffered a general decline in quality. Many users have been hoping for additional content to make up for the lack of games. Thus far, this hasn’t been done, but perhaps integrating a free PSVR title more regularly or some combination of PS4/PS5 games will be added come next generation.
Going into the next generation, Sony should double down on its services and bundle together PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus. Both services have solid foundations that could be even better with a few key improvements. However Sony decides to tackle it, there’s no doubt its services need a face-lift to compete with the likes of Google Stadia, Xbox Game Pass, and other streaming subscription programs that will likely see a boom in the future.
Include a Robust Backwards Compatibility Library
With millions of PSN users, many of whom have large libraries of digital games tied to their accounts, backwards compatibility will play a larger role with the upcoming generation. We already know the PS5 will play PS4 games in some capacity, but it’s unclear how this feature will work and if all games from this generation will be included. The Xbox Series X will be fully backwards compatible with Xbox One games, as well as a large portion of Xbox 360 titles (and even some original Xbox games). With this in mind, Sony needs to rival these features, by—at the very least—including full PS4 backward compatibility.
It’s wishful thinking to expect the entire library of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games to be playable on PS5 for myriad reasons, not limited to a number of licensing problems. But if Sony could somehow pull this off, it would be a huge win for its next console. There are so many PlayStation games spanning the last 25 years that are isolated to their respective consoles, many of which could benefit from getting a second life via backward compatibility on PS5.
There’s no telling how Sony plans to tackle this issue—whether it be the ability for the PS5 to natively read discs from older generations, a digital solution, or some combination of the two. But its clear that backward compatibility will be integral with the new consoles.
PS Store Overhaul
To put it bluntly, the PS Store is a bit of a mess. The worst part is that it’s improved a great deal over the years, and yet it still feels behind the other platforms. There’s a signifincant lag when trying to boot up the store—it should be instantaneous and seamless. It doesn’t need to have fancy bells and whistles, it just needs to work. Why does it sometimes cause the system to crash when simply trying to get into the store? It’s oftentimes overcrowded with ads to the point of it being far too clunky to navigate effectively. And good luck trying to browse the store for older titles or DLC. It definitely could be worse, but the hit-or-miss curation combined with the snail-like speed of the store is frustrating and would also benefit from snappier menu navigation.
But even worse than its laggy menus are some of the store’s contents. In recent years, it’s become flooded with shovelware, making it even more difficult to find what you’re looking for. Games like Life of Black Tiger, as funny as they might be, have no business being on the PlayStation Store. There needs to be some sort of quality control Sony can implement that will prevent such awful games from appearing on the market. This goes for all platforms, as well. It used to be a big deal to release an indie game on a console, but now it seems about as novel as releasing a game on iOS or Steam—both of which are swarmed with terrible games.
Reignite Relationship with Indies
There was once a time when Sony was known for its strong relationship with indies—think mid-PS3 era/early-PS4 era Sony. Back then, the company helped the likes of Journey, The Unfinished Swan, Flower, Resogun, Guacamelee!, and Hotline Miami off the ground, at least on consoles and handhelds (R.I.P. PS Vita). But now, as the PS4 begins to sunset, the company has drifted away from working closely with indies and instead has begun focusing on high-budget AAA adventures. These games are most certainly welcome, but there is a noticeable void left by the lack of emphasis on indies—which the PS5 can absolutely fill starting later this year.
Aside from the obvious decline in indie support, developers have stated that Sony has become increasingly more difficult to work with. Head of Arcade Distillery Luc Bernard argued that Nintendo seems to have taken the place of Sony when it comes to working well with indies. “Sony was at the height of the indie scene and now it’s become kind of Nintendo who’s like that,” Bernard explained. “Now I know how to work with [all of them], but PlayStation isn’t as user-friendly. That’s the most I’ll say.” Even if the company isn’t going to push indies in the same way it used to, the release of the PS5 could mark the return of Sony being more user-friendly with its developers. At most, it could reignite its focus on some of those weird, experimental games that might not work as well in a massive AAA title.
Offer Larger Hard Drive Sizes
Games are getting bigger in terms of file size, some even clocking in at around 120GB (like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, recently). It’s wild to think that some PS3 models offered hard drives at around 80GB, which at the time felt like plenty. Now, it’s quite common to constantly be in the habit of deleting and reinstalling software to your PS4 to make room for the latest releases. This quickly becomes frustrating when it takes hours to download games, depending on internet speeds. Based on the history of install sizes, we can infer that the PS5 will require even larger installs than what we’re used to this generation. (Editor’s Note: There’s actually some evidence that suggests the SSD standard next gen could potentially reduce the file size of games by allowing devs to not have to duplicate assets being read on a disk-based drive.)
Even the 1TB version of the PS4 feels like it isn’t enough, so the PS5 should come packing with plenty of storage space to account for its games (or at least a cost-friendly external storage solution). This would, in turn, impact the system’s price, which is something that many fans are concerned with. But perhaps Sony could offer multiple SKUs with various hard drive sizes to alleviate this potential issue, much like what Microsoft is rumored to be doing with its upcoming consoles. As companies continue to prioritize ease of use and convenience, including enough storage size with the PS5 is going to be essential.
Make sure you’re sticking with PSLS for all things PlayStation as we approach the start of the next generation. Which features do you hope the PS5 will have? Let us know!