It’s hard to believe, but the PlayStation 4 is already in its fifth year on the market. In that time, Sony’s fourth home console has become one of the best-selling gaming platforms in history and built up an impressive library of games, quite a few of which can only be played exclusively on it. In 2016, Sony released the PS4 Pro — a hardware revision that boasted an upgraded CPU and GPU in order to support 4K gameplay, but a console that nevertheless more of a half-step upgrade rather than a new standard.
We know that Sony is hard at work on the next generation of PlayStation hardware (which we can safely assume will be called the PlayStation 5), but it’s unclear how long we’ll have to wait to see it on store shelves. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter predicts that we’ll see the PS5 sometime in 2019, though others believe it could come as early as late 2018.
Whenever it does come out, it’s doubtful that Sony will release the PS5 anytime soon given how successful the PS4 has been (and continues to be). However, the console also isn’t far enough away that we can’t start wondering what sort of features it will bring to the table, so here are the 12 things I think Sony needs to include with the PlayStation 5.
12. Let Us Change Our PSN Names
More casual PlayStation owners may be surprised to see this point brought up here, but anyone who’s owned a PlayStation console since the early days of PlayStation Network knows how frustrating it is that Sony still hasn’t implemented a way for users to change their PSN name. What’s the big deal, right? If you don’t like your name, just make a new profile! Well, more than a decade into the PlayStation Network’s lifespan, many users have invested thousands of dollars into the Sony ecosystem through various games and other purchases, so it’s not exactly feasible to just throw that all away and start over from scratch.
Part of the blame can be placed on the user of course, as we all should have put more thought into our names when we first created our PSN accounts. But really, this is Sony’s fault, as the company not only gave no clear indication that we’d be stuck with whatever dumb name we chose with no possible way of changing it, but also didn’t have the foresight to design a network capable of changing usernames without much difficulty. Microsoft has allowed users to change their Xbox Live gamertags since the Xbox 360 days (for a small fee), and the inability to do so on PlayStation only grows more absurd with each passing year. Anyway, this is all a long-winded way of stating the obvious: Sony needs to figure out how to make this right on the PS5, plain and simple.
11. Actually, Just Overhaul PlayStation Network Altogether
Of course, letting us change our PSN names isn’t the only big change Sony should be making to the PlayStation Network with the PS5. Sony’s online infrastructure has come a long way since the early PS3 days but it’s still not up to same level of quality and reliability as Xbox Live, which is a problem given that Sony charges the same subscription price for its service. One area that Sony definitely needs to address is download speeds. You can have the fastest connection in the world with an absurdly high mbps download speed, but the PS4 will somehow still throttle your connection and download games and updates at a snail’s pace (so to speak).
Likewise, the PlayStation Store needs a new coat of paint. Sony should be looking to implement new, oft-requested features such as a wishlist feature, the ability to gift games to other players, and a refund feature in line with what Steam offers its users. More than anything though, the PlayStation Network needs to be as intuitive and user-friendly as possible; the PS4 made great strides in this regard with its tile layout and the PS5 should follow suit with an even better way to manage all of our games, apps, and pretty much everything else we use our consoles for these days.
10. Larger Hard Drives (DUH)
Unless the future of gaming is based entirely around cloud storage, the PlayStation 5 is going to have to do a lot better than the measly 500GB hard drive that shipped with the original base model PS4. 4K is almost surely going to be the standard by the time the PS5 ships and as we’ve seen with 4K enhancement patches on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, all that extra visual fidelity eats up a lot of storage space. At bare minimum, the PS5 needs to ship with a 1TB drive, but even a 2TB shouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility, if only so users can store more than 10 games on their new console from the get-go.
Of course, the PS5 should also support both internal and external drive upgrades — please, let’s not have another case where it takes more than 3 years to get external drive support like with the PS4 — so that the only restriction to storage space for PS5 owners is their wallet size.
9. Wireless Charging Controllers
The DualShock 4 is — in my opinion — already one of the best video game controllers ever made, so Sony really doesn’t need to tweak much when it comes to the DS5. That being said, one improvement that could be made to Sony’s controller line is to introduce wireless charging capabilities. More and more smartphones are offering this feature, so there’s no reason Sony shouldn’t be able to implement this small, but important quality of life upgrade.
Having the ability to plug a cord into your wireless controller is already pretty handy, sure, but how cool would it be if you could just plop your controller down on top of your console between gaming sessions in order to juice it up? That isn’t to say Sony should ditch cables altogether though, as wireless charging is the kind of feature that could suddenly end up not working properly and it would suck to not have another way to charge your controllers. A provided USB-C cord would do just nicely in this regard.
8. A Disc-Free Model
Physical media is becoming increasingly obsolete as download speeds and streaming quality have continued to improve and by the time the PS5 is released, there will be even less reason to purchase Blu-ray discs. That being said, it would come off as a pretty anti-consumer move if Sony were to ditch physical media altogether with its next console, but it could have the best of both worlds were it to release an optional disc-less model of the PS5.
Not only would this drive down the cost of production, but those savings could be passed onto the consumer, with the disc-less model retailing for a lower price — a budget model with no compromises on actual performance. This way, the collector’s market and anyone who takes advantage of the used game market won’t have to give up their love of physical media, while also still being able to play all their Blu-ray movies. Plus, this would prevent Sony from having a monopoly on game sales, which should theoretically keep pricing competitive.
7. 4K Blu-ray Support
Assuming the PS5 actually ships with a disc-drive, Sony only needs to implement one minor, but important upgrade: 4K Blu-ray support. For some unfathomable reason, Sony opted to forgo putting a 4K drive into the PS4 Pro, a perplexing choice considering Sony was the company that spearheaded Blu-ray’s popularity in the first place with its adoption back on the PlayStation 3.
While 4K adoption is still relatively niche, it’s becoming less so with each passing day as the cost continues to come down, which makes it all the more disappointing that you can’t watch the best quality physical media on any Sony console. Microsoft managed to support 4K Blu-rays with the Xbox One S, which isn’t even the premium version of the console, so it’s kind of embarrassing that Sony can’t say the same thing. If Sony is sticking with physical media on the PlayStation 5, it’s essential that the console supports 4K discs.
6. PS4 Backwards Compatibility (At Least)
For as many things as Sony got right with the PlayStation 4 this generation, many would agree that it dropped the ball when it comes to backwards compatibility. Sure, Sony had a pretty legitimate reason for omitting this feature at launch given how different the PS4’s system architecture was from the PS3’s, but there was really no excuse for not letting users play PS1 and PS2 software on the console. Adding insult to injury, Sony has taken the bare minimum of half-measures, releasing the occasional HD PS2 remaster, effectively forcing its customers to pay for games they already own (Oh and remember PlayStation Classics? Sony never even bothered to bring that back to the PSN Store).
While Microsoft has earned a ton of goodwill with its largely fantastic backwards compatibility initiatives on the Xbox One, Sony has relied on its PlayStation Now streaming service to fill the retro gap and it simply hasn’t measured up to what Microsoft has been able to deliver. At this point, it’s probably a bit absurd to expect Sony to make the PlayStation 5 compatible with ALL previous PlayStation consoles, but at the very least Sony should carry over PS4 software so that customers don’t lose an entire console library of games when they jump to the next generation.
5. Cross-Platform Gaming
One of the biggest drawbacks of having multiple gaming platforms on the market is that it segregates players into separate online ecosystems. While there are millions of people to play with on Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live, no matter which system you’re using, you’re missing out on millions more players by default thanks to the nature of gated communities. But with Microsoft embracing cross-platform play between Xbox and PC in recent years, and even Nintendo allowing cross-platform play on the Switch version of Rocket League, Sony’s hardline stance on blocking such things comes off as out-of-touch and anti-consumer. Even worse is the fact that Microsoft — whose Xbox One console has been outsold by a ratio of more than 2:1 by the PS4 this generation — has repeatedly reached out to Sony about making cross-platform play happen, to no avail.
Sure, I can understand not wanting to make certain games cross-platform with PC given the inherent disadvantage console players would have against those with a mouse and keyboard setup, but not wanting to let PlayStation players face off against Xbox? That’s just silly, especially when you consider that cross-platform play could potentially extend the lifespan of many online-focused games, given the increase to the player pool. It’s hard to see Sony reverting on this stance anytime soon but with the PS5, it would be great if they did.
4. PlayStation VR Overhaul
So far, Sony is the only console manufacturer to truly throw its weight behind virtual reality, having released the PlayStation VR headset in 2016. While PlayStation VR is a totally viable VR experience with an impressive software lineup, it simply doesn’t measure up to the more immersive experiences offered by more powerful headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which benefit from being PC-exclusive. Fortunately, the boost in technical horsepower provided by the PlayStation 5 represents the perfect opportunity for Sony to overhaul PlayStation VR and have it fall more in line with what the competition is offering on high-end PCs.
Bumping up the resolution is a must, as Sony should be targeting 4K with as high a frame rate as possible in order to provide a better visual experience than the somewhat compromised one currently on offer on PS4. Sony absolutely has to ditch the PlayStation Move controllers as well, as they are easily the worst part of PlayStation VR right now, and replace them with some new, high-tech motion controllers (or something even better). Roomscale should also be an option, and the headset itself needs to be wireless and comfortable to boot. Basically, Sony needs to lead the charge on console VR again withe the PS5 and giving PSVR a major top-to-bottom overhaul is essential for this to happen.
3. Download Options With PlayStation Now
In theory, PlayStation Now should be a service every PS4 owner has a subscription to. With access to hundreds of PS4 and PS3 titles, PlayStation Now should be akin to the Netflix of gaming. Unfortunately, Sony made a mistake in building PlayStation Now around cloud gaming. Streaming movies and TV shows works well for a service like Netflix, but that’s because those are non-interactive mediums. Any bit of noticeable latency has a negative impact on gameplay and while PlayStation Now is a quality service for the most part, game streaming simply isn’t at the place it needs to be yet to measure up to actually running a game off your console.
As Microsoft has shown with its similar Xbox Game Pass service, the ability to download a game to your hard drive can make all the difference and it’s about time that Sony followed suit. If PlayStation Now can be revamped for the PS5 so as to allow for both streaming and game downloads, it really could become a must-have app instead of sitting there largely ignored in the PSN Store. That being said, having more and better games on offer would also help substantially in this regard.
2. Keep Those Great Exclusives Coming
One reason Sony has been able to dominate this generation is its steady stream of quality first-party content. While Microsoft has continued to struggle to have any exclusives at all (if it’s also available on PC, it ain’t exclusive), Sony has practically made the PS4 a must-own console with a handful of truly extraordinary games. Titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Bloodborne, and Horizon Zero Dawn are some of the best games of this generation and are only available on PlayStation.
Of course, Sony has always placed an emphasis on internal development, so it’s hard to see anything changing when it comes to the PlayStation 5, but it bears repeating that Sony needs to maintain the same pace of exclusive releases to give its next console the best change of repeating its predecessor’s success.
1. It Should Not Exceed $500 At Launch
Launch pricing is always a difficult, extremely important component of any new console release that can make or break a system right out of the gate. Sony nailed pricing when it came to the PS4, famously “mic-dropping” $399 at E3 2013, a full $100 cheaper than what the Microsoft had priced the Xbox One at. Assuming the PlayStation 5 is released before Microsoft or Nintendo’s next console, which seems like a given at this point considering the latter two companies both released new hardware in 2017, Sony will have most powerful console on the market and all that power will come with a high price tag.
That being said, it’s hard to see Sony ever repeating the absurdly high “you’ll need two jobs to buy this” pricing debacle it had with the PS3 and in order to avoid such things, the PlayStation 5 can’t exceed a launch price of $500 USD. This is the same price the Xbox One X launched at and it was billed as being a premium console for those who want the best visuals and performance on consoles. Hitting this price point could prove difficult for Sony, but one way to get around this would be to have multiple SKUs. For instance, a disc-less model with a smaller hard drive could be the base model at $500, with a “premium” version selling for $50-$100 more.
Whatever the PlayStation 5’s final cost, it has to be both affordable and competitive but given how much success Sony had with the PS4’s launch pricing structure, it’s a safe bet they’ll do something similar with its successor.