We have, if you can believe, almost reached the end of the current generation of consoles, and with news of PlayStation pulling out of E3 in 2019 in rumoured preparation of a hardware announcement, speculation is mounting as to what the selling points could be for the next generation.
2019 is going to be an interesting year for PlayStation’s media output. No E3 presentation, along with the lack of a PlayStation Experience fan festival means that next year won’t follow the same pattern of with announcements and information surrounding the company’s future release calendar.
Sony’s main competitor, Xbox, haven’t pulled out of E3 and have in fact confirmed their attendance on Twitter, but things have been ramping up for them as well. The acquisition of notable studios, such as famous RPG maker Obsidian Entertainment, might be the latest hint that Xbox has more hardware irons in the fire.
Perhaps the PlayStation strategy is to stockpile all their news and wait for 2020, a more slow burn approach but one that will make the barrage of announcements on the day all the more sweeter.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If Sony and Microsoft were to bring a pair of new machines to bear, what could be the selling points be for the next generation?
It’s unlikely that graphics and gameplay will be major selling points for either console. Mid-generation upgrades for both the PS4 and the Xbox One brought better gameplay and smoother visuals, so it’s unlikely that they’ll be riding off of this.
It could be an incredibly interesting contest. There’s speculation that the next Xbox could delve into cloud-based play, which PlayStation has also investigated, but not on the scale of a full console. PlayStation provides a service called Playstation Now, a game streaming service available in the US (lets hope our internet over here will one day be able to handle it as Xbox’s competitor, Xbox Games Pass doesn’t seem to have a problem).
Perhaps that’s the correct direction for the Xbox to go in; to provide a gaming service somewhat different to its competitors and satisfying to its consumer base; allowing their players to stream their games from server hubs could prove to be an in-genius idea, with the right internet speeds, but could also be a counter-sale to anybody considering the next generation of PlayStation, say if it doesn’t support the same technology. Being different from your competition gives you a sales advantage from the right consumer base.
It’s what Nintendo does — to some extent. Ever since the GameCube, Nintendo devices have had a unique spin on their quality – the line of Nintendo DS hardware provided quality portable entertainment not easily matched by contemporaries, to Sony’s dismay when they pushed for the PSP. The Wii, overwhelmingly successful, provided incredible wireless and sensory gaming fun, and the Switch continues to amaze with its compact size and ability to play such graphically beautiful games on the go. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Xbox and PlayStation make an attempt on the Switch’s successful model in some capacity.
PlayStation’s strongest suit and greatest selling point is its exclusives; you can’t access those quality games anywhere else on the market, and as such they’ve become a premium selling point of the brand. They’ve got agreements with several great studios, often lauded for awards – such as Insomniac, Game of the Year nominee at The Game Awards.
But could PlayStation’s exclusivity sales push be enough to keep its brand going? Potentially, if PlayStation is attempting to sell to the average gamer, they won’t need to change all that much. However, it will be interesting to see what they’ve got in store. Right now, The Last of Us Part II and Death Stranding, from Hideo Kojima, cast a large exclusivity shadow on the PS4.
One thing that everyone would love to see is backwards compatibility. Microsoft has been working hard to make games backwards compatible for the Xbox One from both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360, with multiplayer servers kept alive; no PlayStation has been able to pull off backwards compatibility since the launch model PS3 which quickly and curiously abandoned PS2 compatibility in favour of getting the sky-high price down, but still ran PS1 games just fine.Ffans may be fortunate to see it make its return — that being said, it’s always more profitable to resell the game to the players, rather than enable their play of the same game on a new system.
Looking forward to it, PlayStation and Xbox, don’t let me down. You’ve got 2 years and the hype trains are roaring already.