As we approach five years out from the initial launch of the PlayStation 4, history tells us it’s time to start digging for rumors about its successor — Sony’s inevitable PlayStation 5. Although the recent release of intra-generational upgrades with the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X led many to speculate that the age of discrete console generations might be coming to an end (or at least slowing down), there are rumblings suggesting that Sony is working on a full-fledged PlayStation 5.
We’ve rounded up all the rumors floating around about the new PS5, so you can judge for yourself.
Sony is working on a new console
We don’t know the official name of Sony’s next-generation gaming console but we do know that Sony is actively working on it right now. In an interview with the Financial Times, CEO Kenichiro Yoshida confirmed that it is “necessary to have next-generation hardware.” The same Financial Times report also said it wouldn’t be radically different in design than the PlayStation 4. With the PS4 leading in sales this generation by a wide margin over its competition, this shouldn’t be a surprise, though there will likely be a few design tweaks.
The PlayStation 5 release date
In May 2018, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera told reporters, “We will use the next three years to prepare the next step, to crouch down so that we can jump higher into the future.” This came shortly after he remarked that the PS4 was entering the “final phase of its life cycle.”
Sony is obviously thinking about and working on the future and according to this information, we may possibly see the PlayStation 5 get a release date in 2021. On the contrary, Industry Analyst Michael Pachter believes the console could launch earlier. Speaking to GamingBolt in July, Pachter said he believes the console will come in 2020. This could be why Sony announced such a small number of new games during its E3 2018 event. Either way, there’s still no solid evidence of a release date for the PS5.
PlayStation 5 specs
One report claims the PS5 will feature a custom 8-core Zen CPU and a GPU based on AMD’s upcoming Navi architecture
The PlayStation 5 could use an AMD Ryzen processor. A note written by Simon Pilgrim, principal programmer of Sony’s Advanced Technology Group, revealed that he was working on improving compatibility between AMD Ryzen processors and “Zen” core architecture within the LLVM compiler stack. All of that may sound like gibberish, but the compiler stack is a key component of the development environment in PlayStation systems.
SemiAccurate’s Charlie Demerjian claims to have tangible details about PS5 devkits that are already in circulation (via WCCFTech). According to Demerjian, the PS5 will feature an 8-core Zen CPU and a GPU based on AMD’s upcoming Navi architecture, both customized, of course.
We’ve known that Navi is likely coming in late 2018/early 2019 for several years now, but details are otherwise unavailable on its capabilities. Demerjian has a history of leaking accurate console specs, so his rumors are worth serious consideration.
Another report from the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company said the company is producing a new gaming chip. If development kits have made it out to developers, new hardware production would have to be ramping up. The report doesn’t mention Sony or PlayStation by name.
On the other hand, in a report responding directly to Demerjian’s, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier said a source with knowledge of Sony’s plans laughed that the rumored specs were not accurate. According to Schreier’s reporting, early PS5 devkits may be out in the wild, but most developers seem to be unaware of them.
Improved VR support
In addition to under-the-hood power, Demerjian’s report suggested the PlayStation 5 will be built from the ground up with virtual reality support in mind. Although PSVR (or, frankly, VR in general) has not yet set the world on fire in the way that many optimistic analysts predicted it would circa 2016, Sony’s headset has been home to a few gems so far, and it’s still almost certainly the best value and most readily accessible, high-end consumer VR.
The PS4 Pro buffed up the base console’s specs in order to better support PSVR, but starting from scratch with VR as a core feature of the console will no doubt open up a lot of possibilities for developers.
PlayStation 5 games
With no official announcement from Sony about the console, developers are remaining tight-lipped if they do have PS5 devkits in hand. Several have made comments that could be construed as hints that they do, however.
The Witcher 3’s developer, CD Projekt Red, is hard at work on their next epic, Cyberpunk 2077. At a 2018 conference in Bergen, the studio heads gave a presentation about the game which included a slide with the phrase “Rich, true-to-life visuals built on current and next-generation technology.” That could mean a lot of things, of course, but one could interpret that as a nod to the fact that they are simultaneously developing the game for both the current- and next-generation of consoles, of which the PS5 would have to be one.
Similarly, Gran Turismo Sport creator Kazunori Yamauchi made a comment that could suggest they are already tinkering with the PS5. On a studio tour, he told Finder.com that new cars take so long to develop because they are “building for future versions of the console rather than the one we see today.” He also mentioned that he thought it “would be no problem to run it at 8K even,” which is well above what the PS4 Pro is capable of putting out.
Sony’s own Death Stranding, which is planned for a PlayStation 4 release, could be coming to the PlayStation 5. Speaking to GamingBolt, industry analyst Michael Pachter said the game will “likely be a cross-generational title.” Sony hasn’t done this very often in the past, though a number of third-party games released on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 at the beginning of the generation. Given that Death Stranding doesn’t even have a release window yet, it seems like the most likely candidate, and would certainly be a good way for Sony to sell consoles early on.
It has also been reported that the majority of Sony’s own internal development teams have shifted their focus to the PlayStation 5. Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad said that “most” of Sony’s teams were now on the unannounced system, and that it was possible that certain games developed for PlayStation 4 could also see a release on PlayStation 5.
Bethesda Softworks appears to be one of the game companies most open about its ambition to release upcoming games on next-generation systems. Speaking to Eurogamer at the Gamelab conference in Spain, Bethesda game director Todd Howard revealed that the science-fiction game Starfield will be next-generation in both hardware and software. Given that Bethesda is releasing Starfield before The Elder Scrolls VI, which it also announced at E3 2018, there’s very little doubt that The Elder Scrolls VI will also release on PlayStation 5.
Thanks to a LinkedIn listing, it appears Square Enix is currently working on a game for the system, as well. Users at forum ResetEra spotted a 3D character model artist’s profile, which made mention of a “new AAA title for PS5” at Luminous Production — one of the company’s newest studios. This could confirm that the system will be called the PlayStation 5, as well.
It’s possible that the PlayStation 5 could be backward compatible with older PlayStation systems’ games. A patent application published in Japan stated that a computing device could be configured in such a way in order to “facilitate backward compatibility.” It appears the technology would make it possible for the system to run hardware designed for a different type of architecture — the PlayStation 3, for instance, used a special “Cell” processor that made is difficult to develop for. “Spoofing” this processor allows the programs to still work.
The document does not mention the PlayStation or any of its successors by name, but a diagram shows a “Legacy Application,” likely referring to software for the PlayStation 4 or earlier systems. Though the Xbox One has backward compatibility enabled for some Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, the PS4 does not. The enormous success of the system means players will be unlikely to part with their game collections as they upgrade. It’s also possible that the patent is for a revision of the PS4 itself.
It could be the last PlayStation system
Game streaming services could replace traditional consoles in the future, at least if you ask Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. Speaking to Variety, Guillemot expressed his belief that there will “one more console generation” before the industry completely moves to a streaming-only model.
Guillemot added that this technology would become more accessible to more players over time, but with the loss of net neutrality and data caps in place at many internet service providers, the market for a traditional console with physical media is still strong.