I remember it like it was yesterday. Sony had just announced its event, The Future Of Gaming, for the Playstation 5 on June 11th, 2020. It was one of the most anticipated showcases of the year. Sony had been very secretive about its plans for the next generation of gaming. Consumers were coming off of a high from the PS4’s phenomenal success of their first-party titles including Spider-Man PS4, God Of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn. Gamers were hungry for Sony to showcase its lineup of Playstation 5 exclusives… or so they thought.
The event was a success, however, looking back on that day it has aged poorly. Consumers thought Sony was ready to take its step into the next generation of gaming but in hindsight, they didn’t give players any reason to buy a PS5. We later found out that games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Horizon Zero Dawn II: Forbidden West were revealed as cross-gen titles for the PS4 and PS5. This leaves a sour taste in my mouth and I am a little disappointed that Sony misled its player base.
Sony has dug itself into a hole with its misguided campaign marketing. Consumers were led to believe that the titles that were shown during that 2020 showcase would only be available on its next-gen machine. Hell, the title of the event (The Future Of Gaming) speaks for itself. This contradicts the statement said by Jim Ryan the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. In May of 2020, He was asked by Gamesindustry.biz if PlayStation would follow Xbox’s method, and make future exclusives available across all of its platforms.
“We have always said that we believe in generations,” he answered, touting a line that many other Sony execs would repeat in the lead up to the PS5’s launch. “We believe that when you go to all the trouble of creating a next-gen console, that it should include features and benefits that the previous generation does not include. And that, in our view, people should make games that can make the most of those features. […] It is time to give the PlayStation community something new, something different, that can only be enjoyed on PS5.”gamesindustry.biz
Consumers are disappointed, and rightfully so, because this also brings up the question of when does the next generation of PlayStation formally start? We are 8 months into the life cycle of the Playstation 5 and it appears there isn’t much to be desired of the true PS5 experience give or a few titles such as Demon’s Souls Remake, Returnal, and the upcoming Rachet And Clank: Rift Apart releasing this month. To make matters more complicated it was announced that God Of War Ragnarok and Gran Turismo 7 has been announced ass cross-gen titles for the PS4 & PS5. This was confirmed in the latest Playstation Blog Post interview with Hermen Hulst the head of PlayStation Studios.
PSB: How does PS4 factor into PlayStation Studios’ development vision? Is it still a focus internally for future game development?
Hermen: It very much is. You can’t build a community of over 110 million PS4 owners and then just walk away from it, right? I think that’d be bad news for fans of PS4, and frankly not very good business.
Where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5 — for Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, GT7 — we’ll continue looking at that. And if PS4 owners want to play that game, then they can. If they want to go on and play the PS5 version, that game will be there for them. That being said, it’s also very important to have showpieces for PS5, hence the development of Returnal and Ratchet that are exclusive to PS5.Playstation.Blog
In retrospect, this is a good thing due to the limited availability of the PS5. It gives PS4 consumers a chance to play Sony’s latest 1st party titles. In theory, everybody wins. However, I can understand the frustration of early adopters of the PS5. This cross-gen discourse isn’t going away anytime soon, but gamers need to comprehend that a business move like this doesn’t mean games such as Horizon Zero Dawn II: Forbidden West or God Of War Ragnarok will fail. Sony is trying to appeal to PS4 and PS5 owners alike. I just wish they would have been more transparent from the start, which seems to be Sony’s achilles heel.
Hermen also stated that PlayStation Studios has more than 25 games in development in which half of those are new IP, and the other half are from established franchises that already know and love. This is promising news but now that Playstation has made a mess of things with its marketing strategy I wonder how many of their new titles will fall into the PS4/PS5 cross-gen library?
The titles showcased at the Future Of Gaming event proved that Sony was campaigning these titles for their next-gen, which is a bad look. Sure you could blame it on the pandemic, or scalpers, but the truth of the matter is, consumers would not be disappointed if Sony didn’t mislead their player base from the get-go. Honesty will always be the best policy.
Christian is a film critic and founder of the Film Optix Podcast. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association. You can find him on Twitter @Musiccitynerd