The PlayStation 5 may have everything you could ask for in a gaming console. It has everything you could ever ask for in a new system, including backwards compatibility for PlayStation 4 games so you won’t have to get rid of your old library. But is it enough?
Apart from all the expected bells and whistles — a better graphics card and faster CPU for 4K gaming, a streamlined new interface, and even a solid-state hard drive — it lacks what gamers crave for the most: video games.
While the Nintendo Switch had very little to offer in terms of hardware, it had video games. Enough of them to justify the purchase. A new Super Mario, sequels to The Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros., and a swath of third-party titles exclusive to the system. In contrast, the PlayStation 5 only offers games that are already going to be available on the PC and the new Xbox.
That’s not to say that Microsoft’s gaming machine has better offerings — it doesn’t — but it does have better hardware, which will look attractive to anyone unwilling to sink thousands for a gaming PC, especially with the Xbox GamePass.
Where’s the new God of War? There’s a sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn and a remake of Demon’s Souls, and a new Ratchet and Clank game. But that’s about it. It would be an understatement to say that the PS5 announcement was underwhelming, especially in contrast to when the PS3 and PS4 were first revealed.
There’s no new Uncharted, Killzone, Final Fantasy, or even a dark horse title like Infamous: Second Son, which served as the PS4’s first good exclusive title. While God of War wasn’t announced until late in the PS4’s life cycle, many were expecting for it to show up at the PS5 reveal. Along with other expected titles, God of War’s no-show was noticeable, to say the least.
While Horizon: Zero Dawn is a good game, it certainly doesn’t carry the same weight as Sony’s other franchises. Its creators also soured their relationship with the Sony fanbase, at least somewhat, when they opted to announce that the formerly exclusive title would also be coming out on the PC just weeks before revealing its sequel.
In short, there’s just not that much to look forward to.
That isn’t to say that the PS5 can’t eventually command a lead over the Xbox, but with Microsoft’s recent acquisitions of high-profile gaming studios and a growing GamePass library that offers both platform exclusives and even non-exclusive titles for both the PC and Xbox for a low monthly fee, Sony needs to step up its game.
Offering more exclusives isn’t enough, either. Sony needs to ditch its old paid subscription model that’s required for online multiplayer games or make it more worthwhile. Offering a couple of “free” older games each month just doesn’t cut it anymore — not when Netflix, Amazon Prime, and yes, the Xbox GamePass, offer the entirety of their libraries for a small monthly payment. If PlayStation Plus looks like a rip-off, that’s because it is.
The PlayStation 5 offers good enough hardware to play the latest upcoming games, and there’s no doubt that more games will be announced in the future. But really, it still isn’t enough. Only time will tell if Sony decides to get with the times or lags behind Microsoft, which very quickly adopted the Netflix model. Until then, there’s just not that much to look forward to.