Yup, this topic again. Because it’s still relevant, in a world where Microsoft is making big moves and Sony’s silence is starting to get deafening. In the next-gen news space, Microsoft is dominating the conversation with transparency and excitement for what’s coming this holiday season. In fact, the company, and multiple executives at Xbox like Phil Spencer, Aaron Greenberg, and others, have been hyping the Xbox Series X all year. And now, the company has a roadmap in place for the next six months or so, with a bunch of reveals leading up to the holiday 2020 release date. And so the question remains, where’s Sony in all of this? Is Sony behind the curve by not hyping up the PS5 more, or is the term “PS5” simply synonymous enough with the next-gen conversation that the company can more or less draft on Microsoft building the hype?
If Sony is indeed banking on brand loyalty and name recognition, it’s a bold strategy (though judging purely on the numbers, seems to be going well for them so far). Sure, PlayStation still has The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima this year as PS4 releases. A lot of speculation says that Sony doesn’t want—or need—to jump into the next-gen conversation right now because there’s still life left in the PS4. Even I myself said that Sony should wait and make sure they are prepared and doing things right with the next-gen reveals, especially considering how much the ongoing pandemic has shifted previous marketing and promotion plans.
But there’s no denying the very obvious and clear discrepancy in the very transparent and forward excitement of Microsoft and the Xbox Series X, versus the veiled secrecy surrounding so much of the PlayStation 5. Just look at this tweet (and the replies) from Aaron Greenberg about what’s coming up for Xbox.
Common Qs: Thursday show will be under an hour. June news will be done differently than Inside Xbox show. July is the big Xbox Games Studios show, we will go around the world to see first looks & even new game announcements from those creative teams. Will answer more in replies. https://t.co/qMgwS0IRx7
— Aaron Greenberg (@aarongreenberg) May 5, 2020
We already know what the console looks like. We’re getting a look at third-party games on the system in just a couple of days. We know that June will be a unique Xbox Series X showcase (probably a release date/price/preorder reveal of some sort). We know that July will see a closer look at first-party Xbox games. And then August, September, and October will each have milestones as players get hyped and ready for next-gen. And on top of that, they are setting expectations for length and scope of each reveal and show.
Sony’s Been Less Than Transparent on a PS5 Reveal Timeline
Conversely, last time Sony had an announcement, they touted Mark Cerny’s PS5 tech talk—one that was very obviously meant for GDC and not the wider gaming audience—as a big PS5 reveal. As interesting as the nerds like me found it to be, it was still very, very technical and very much not the wholesale reveal of the PS5 that most people wanted. Expectations weren’t set properly. From that talk, we simply received vague promises that there would be a console teardown at some point in the future. It wasn’t too long after that we got the DualSense controller reveal very suddenly and out of nowhere. And since then? Just silence from Sony, at least when it comes to next-gen talk.
There are rumors of course, as there always are. The latest one says Sony’s PS5 reveal isn’t set to happen until June 4, which would technically line up with past consoles. June would allow them to reveal the console’s look, price, release date, and open up preorders a good five to six months ahead of the release. But it leaves May (and all the time up until now) wide open for third-parties to be in Microsoft’s court. This became a notable issue with CD Projekt RED, who is openly talking about its Xbox Series X version of Cyberpunk 2077, but can’t mention the PS5 version ahead of Sony revealing more about the console.
Likewise, Thursday’s Xbox Series X third-party showcase will probably have a bunch of games also scheduled for PS5—we know that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be shown—but PS5 won’t get a mention, and these companies can’t talk about unique features or enhancements coming for the PS5 versions of their games.
But does that matter?
On the other side of the coin, PlayStation has brand awareness on its side. People know the PS5 is coming. The people excited for the marketing spin-up leading to next-gen are knowledgeable. We here at PlayStation LifeStyle are excited for the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay, because we know ultimately the game is coming to both consoles. So does it matter that it’s shown at Inside Xbox? Only to the point that we don’t know how the PS5 upgrade system will work from the PS4 version (if Sony has that feature). But even that we’ll learn in time enough to preorder (or cancel) based on the answer.
So in the grand scheme of things, no, it really doesn’t matter. The crucial period is going to be approaching the next-gen console release window later this year. More than six months out—whether intentional or not—Sony can coast on the next-gen conversation lumping PS5 in even if they remain largely silent for the time being. They’ve gotten just enough information out there that it’s adequately a part of that next-gen conversation without Sony needing to show its hand too early. Basically knowing that the PlayStation 5 is a thing and generally when it’s launching have been enough to keep it front of mind for many.
“Next-gen” will always be synonymous with “PS5 and Xbox Series X,” and while Sony may not be talking the finer details of the console just yet, the fact is that they really don’t need to. Sony doesn’t need to hit marketing mode just yet, and actually answering to the Xbox reveals may be a more effective strategy anyway, as it was back in the PS4 reveal era. To top it off, Sony keeps PlayStation fresh in the conversation with The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima before really needing to hit stride and show what’s coming later this year. Whether that was the plan all along or COVID-19 came in and jumbled everything around, it really doesn’t matter. The “next-gen” conversation will always include PS5, especially since Sony kicked off the conversation with the Wired interview more than a year ago.
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