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The PS5 reveal was about gaming. That’s probably a good thing

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The PS5 looks different than we expected.

If you were to ask me about PlayStation’s strengths, relative to its competition, I would 100% point to the video games themselves.

God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man and exclusive third parties such as Bloodborne set a windy pace that Microsoft and its internal studios simply couldn̵

7;t match.

Last generation Microsoft and the Xbox brand were not even in race.

So when it was time for Sony to finally unveil its next generation console at its Future of Gaming event, Sony didn’t trust specifications or troublesome pipe dreams of making consoles for the entertainment center in your living room. Sony just showed video games.

Lots and lots of video games.

Sony’s PlayStation 5 showcase opened with Spider-Man Miles Morales and closes with Horizon Forbidden West, sequel to absolute cork with established fanbases and critical shelf. But squeezed between the two heavy weights, a massive line-up of games revealed on a shotgun was so intense that it was almost impossible to evaluate what we were actually in for.

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Playstation 5 looks silly as hell, and I must have it!


On Thursday, at the Future of Gaming event, Sony’s real strength was variation. AAA games like Spider-Man sat next to nostalgia bites like Demons Souls and Ratchet and Clank. But indie titles – including an age story about dinosaurs in high school (?) And a game where you play like a cat in a cybercity populated by broken robots (??) – were very front and center. Offbeat games that Sony and Microsoft traditionally threw in a ghetto indie montage got the same platform and weight as stalwarts that Resident Evil. It was really refreshing.

The launch of events like these are traditionally exhibits for real-life graphics, but here it was the wide, varied palette of art styles that shone through. PlayStation 5, much like Xbox Series X, will no doubt be a powerful machine. But you get the feeling that the art direction and the sheer mass of human resources will drive visual improvements in the next generation – not nuts and bolts in the console itself.

Games like Little Devil Inside, another world adventure title that looked unlike any video game I’ve ever seen, sat comfortably alongside games like Horizon Forbidden West, a game that will set new benchmarks in a more traditional sense.

The players’ future

By focusing on the games exclusively, Sony has largely considered issues that could play more for Microsoft’s strengths with the Xbox Series X. Microsoft is making major investments in both cloud and subscription games. The xCloud project lets you stream games like Forza Horizon 4 on your phone, while Game Pass is essentially Netflix for gaming. Will PlayStation now become a competitor to Project xCloud? What is Sony’s answer to Game Pass, the service that Xbox Chief Phil Spencer believes may be more important than the Xbox Series X console itself?

For a presentation titled “The Future of Games”, this was very much a presentation rooted in the here and now: This is the console and these are the games you will play. Sony promises further details in later presentations, but it’s easy to wonder. Is this the point when Microsoft and Sony diverge paths? One more focused on video games as a service, the other committed to building the best possible library of traditional exclusives.

PS5’s physical design seems to indicate that. Microsoft is tapping into the traditional home console that is slowly disappearing from view, replaced with cloud games and a monthly subscription model. Sony wants to keep the good times rolling.

Rough, white and unpopular, the PS5 is a bold distance from previous consoles designed to blend in with other devices that sit silently under your TV. This is exactly what the teens expected me to expect from consoles back in 1999. It says, loudly and proudly, “Hi, I’m PS5, I play the video games you’ve heard so much about.”

Again: Sony is playing to its strengths.

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