Microsoft has been making big waves for the past week and a half, finally unveiling the look, specs and capabilities of its next console: the Xbox Series X. This vertical unit is what will eventually usurp the Xbox One S and Xbox One S as the company’s latest home console when it officially launches in Holiday 2020, which has led many to wonder what its rival, the PlayStation 5, will look like?
The truth is that details on PS5 are noticeably scarcer than those you can find regarding the Xbox Series X, with only a few titbits about Sony’s next console coming to light in a couple of interviews with WIRED. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate. We’ll likely learn more about PlayStation early on in the new year as it too will be arriving in time for Holiday 2020. So, without further ado, here’s what PS5 needs to do to stand up against the Xbox Series X.
Backwards compatibility from Day One
One of the major advantages Xbox has had over PlayStation throughout this current console generation is the advent of backwards compatibility. While it might seem strange to want an easy way to look back and play old games on an entirely new console, it’s extremely important for players that have invested a lot in their chosen platform’s online store to know that their games libraries will translate across. PS4 didn’t do this in the jump from PS3, but it’s hard to imagine Sony will make the same mistake again when migrating existing players over to PS5.
It’s no secret that game launch line-ups for a new console tend to be very sparse on day one, so fully supporting backwards compatibility for PS3 and PS4 games on PS5 from the start could prove invaluable. What’s more, 2020 promises to still be an impressive year for exclusives on PS4 despite the imminent arrival of its successor, so giving new PS5 players a way to catch up on these is the kindly thing to do and make a lot of sense. Everything Sony has said so far suggests this will be a feature; let’s hope that this is the case come Holiday 2020.
More integrated social sharing features
PS4 and Xbox One was the era where being able to share their gaming adventures was of the upmost importance for players. PlayStation actually pioneered this somewhat by including a dedicated Share button on the redesigned Dualshock 4 controller, which allowed PS4 users to instantly post screenshots and clips from their console onto Twitter and Facebook directly. This proved so popular that Microsoft has done the same for its new Xbox Series X controller.
It’d be absolutely bonkers if the PlayStation 5’s new controller didn’t also feature a dedicated Share button, but it’d be even better if Sony has had the foresight to embed other social sharing features. More players are streaming, posting and sharing their fun than ever right now, with no sign of it slowing down. Photo modes in games help with this a lot, but there’s still a lot of room to ease this process. Hopefully PlayStation 5 has figured out the perfect way how.
Ongoing momentum with great first-party exclusives
One of the major struggles had by Xbox during this console generation was its significant lack of blockbuster first-party exclusives. Hallmark franchises like Halo and Gears of War all enjoyed big new entries, sure, but there was nothing truly new or revolutionary to get excited about. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has already put the wheels in motion to change that, investing heavily in top-tier game development studios to make Xbox Series X the home to game that can’t be played anywhere else.
Sony, therefore, will need to continue investing in their family of worldwide studios for PlayStation 5, retaining enough great exclusives to keep PlayStation players excited. PS4 saw many new great exclusive franchises like Horizon: Zero Dawn and Bloodborne born on the platform, and already we’ve received confirmation that the first PS5 game to be revealed, Godfall, won’t be available on any other home console. PlayStation exclusive games have become synonymous with quality; PlayStation 5 will need to sustain this high bar to fend off the competition.
Cater to multiple types of play experiences
Whereas Microsoft has largely stuck to the traditional model of releasing a home console every few years, PlayStation is a brand that has jumped from home console to portable device to a dedicated virtual reality platform. It’s already been corroborated that PS5 will continue to support existing PSVR headsets, indicating that it’ll be a platform that still values the ability to diversify its player base.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently commented that VR isn’t a likely thing to come to Xbox Series X in future, effectively leaving open a wide goal for PlayStation to take advantage of. PSVR is still the most affordable way to jump into and experience games like never before, appealing to not just die-hard gamers but also players that find the advent of virtual reality far less complex yet still appealing. PlayStation 5 should continue experimenting with these platforms, especially since the X Series X seemingly won’t be tackling that market.