June 4th is all about the games.
Sony finally announced a date for its PS5 reveal event, a showcase on June 4th, but perhaps “PS5 reveal” is being a bit too generous. There’s a fair amount of evidence that the PS5 games showcase will entirely focus on the games and won’t actually show the design of the PlayStation 5 console itself. In order to set up fair expectations for next Thursday, I’d like to look at why Sony may still be holding the full PS5 console reveal—including the console design and price—back until later.
Back in 2013 when Sony teased its E3 2013 showcase that ultimately revealed the PS4 in full—including the design, price, and release date—the short teaser trailer featured a bunch of close-up shots of the PS4 console itself: the top light strip, the vents, etc. It was clearly hinting “hey, we’re about to show you what this thing looks like. Get ready.” And as we know, that showcase was heavily focused on the PS4 console itself: the console’s look, its price, its release date, and its features.
Yet when we look at the teaser trailer for the June 4th PS5 event, it simply shows the DualSense controller, something we’ve already seen revealed. There are no close-up shots of the sleek lines of the console. No indication that Sony wants to show you the machine. Then we dive into Jimy Ryan’s post on the PlayStation Blog, which talks a lot about games.
“… I’m excited to share that we will soon give you a first look at the games you’ll be playing after PlayStation 5 launches this holiday…”
“The games coming to PS5 represent the best in the industry…”
“..games that will showcase the potential of the hardware.”
“…what’s in store for the next generation of games…”
Everything seems to focus on the games themselves. Ryan carefully avoids talking about the PS5 as a console. His comments lean towards the games showing what the capabilities of the PS5 are, rather than showing the console and talking hardware features. So it’s clear the June 4th PS5 showcase will focus on games. But then…
Why Not Reveal the PS5 Console?
For the sake of argument, let’s put the PS5 in a November release. If we even say as early as November 6, that’s still a full five months until the PS5 release date. That’s a lot of conversation around the platform that needs to happen and be kept up leading to launch. At this point, Sony doesn’t need to show the console. Let’s be honest, would what the PS5 looks like change your purchasing decision at all? No. It’s going to be about the games and what the console is capable of. Would it be cool to see it? Sure, but the focus needs to first be around what it does. And an hour-long showcase arguably seems like it would be too short to adequately dedicate time to the console and its features as well as the games.
Likewise, because Sony isn’t going to be showing its full hand—Ryan said in the post that this will be “part of our series of PS5 updates,” and that they “still have much to share with you”—I doubt this will be the time when the PS5 console pricing and release date gets announced. This hour-long showcase will focus on games—the next-gen quality experiences that will demonstrate what’s possible only on the PS5—while Sony explores other ways to announce the PS5 price, release date, and ultimately show off the console design.
Looking specifically at Ryan’s wording calling this a “series of PS5 updates,” I can see the June 4th showcase teasing what’s next once it finishes showing the games. Perhaps it ends with some teasers of what the console looks like, or it narrows down the date from “holiday 2020” to “November 2020” or something to that effect. Then Sony can continue dictating the pace of the conversation surrounding the PS5, eventually talking console design, UI look and features, and eventually release date and price (when they’ll finally open up preorders).
Of course, I could be entirely wrong and the whole thing will open right up with a reveal of the PS5 console itself. It may end with a price and release date stinger and preorders opening around the world. I’m not claiming to have any inside knowledge except the publicly available evidence and my history covering this industry as far back as the PS4’s reveal and release.
But I think in the absence of the array of consumer events Sony once planned on having, it needs to pace the conversation throughout the year as more of a drip-feed, holding back certain information so that by the time the PS5 actually releases, it still feels “new” and “fresh.” That’s one criticism I’ve seen about the Xbox strategy, which sees a lot of people feeling like the Xbox Series X was unveiled a bit too early and will feel like old news by the time it releases. I’m not necessarily saying I agree, but it’s clear Sony and Microsoft are in very different positions and have very different strategies for next-gen, both in terms of the platform focus and the marketing leading to release.
The last thing to consider is PS5 consoles currently being manufactured to get shipments ready for release day. That means there are production lines where these things are being made. There are boxes with the picture of the console right on it. Sony knows its only a matter of time until someone leaks it, so even if the console reveal isn’t June 4th (which, honestly, I hope I’m wrong and it does happen), I don’t think it’ll be too long of a wait until we do see what it looks like. Get that next-gen hype train started. It’s about to leave the station.
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