It looks like the rumors about an initial limited production run for the next-generation PlayStation 5 console might still come true: Sony emailed selected current customers, based on “previous interests and PlayStation activities,” with an offer of early preorder reservations for the console for a limited window of time, only one PS5 per PSN ID, and on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s possible that Sony’s doing this just to bump up the preorder FOMO, but it’s also possible that it’s doing this to make sure the people who are most likely to buy it — given we don’t even know the price yet — and who are obviously most eager for it, don’t get shut out if there are production issues.
The PS5 is coming.
At its streaming Future of Gaming event in early June. We finally got to see the PS5 hardware, along with its new family members, as well as a host of games we can expect. Add that to the detailed hardware specifications that the company gave us over a year earlier in April 2019, and the only big mystery still remaining is the price. And possibly how confused you may be about whether you can use your PS4’s DualShock controller with it.
Sony put up a carefully worded blog post in early August “clarifying” which of your older console accessories will work with the PS5. The answer is: some. Basically, if it’s a PS4 game running on the PS5, it will be compatible. If it’s a PS5 game, then sort of, maybe, check with individual game developers.
There’s a whole family of accessories to match the somewhat controversial design, which Sony’s PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan calls “bold, daring and future facing,” including a new headset, the Pulse 3D, which probably takes advantage of the ray-traced audio technology in the PS5. There’s also a media remote and updated camera. It’s unknown as to whether any or all of these will be bundled with the PS5 or optional purchases.
In September 2019, Sony also said its new console would be “greener.” If 1 million players use the PS5’s energy-saving feature, it said, that would save the equivalent of the average electricity use of 1,000 US homes. Both Sony and Microsoft have said they’re committed to making more eco-friendly video game consoles.
What’s the PS5’s release date and how much will it cost?
Make that prices — there is a Digital Edition with no Blu-ray drive, which presumably will be less expensive than the standard model. But it’s likely that even if console prices match those of the PS4, it’s possible you’ll be paying a premium for games as well; 2K has priced its PS5 version of NBA 2K21 at $10 more than the PS4 version.
Sony continues to stick to its holiday 2020 release, but we still don’t know how much we’ll have to shell out for it. The cost to manufacture one is reportedly $450, according to a Bloomberg report in mid-February. One contributor to the steep cost is the low supply of DRAM and NAND flash memory that’s also used in smartphones. Even so, Sony may still give the PS5 a lower price tag in order to compete with Microsoft and its upcoming Xbox Series X. One Canadian retailer reportedly priced the console at $559 in Canadian dollars, which would equate to approximately $410.
Bloomberg reported on April 15 that the price of the PS5 might be higher than previously expected due to its specs and that Sony may offer fewer consoles at launch because it expects the higher price will muffle demand. According to Bloomberg, the company told partners it plans to make 5 to 6 million units by March 2021, which would be fewer than the number of PS4 consoles launched in 2013. Also, the coronavirus pandemic isn’t exactly a great time for marketing a new device.
Best Buy, Target, Amazon and more have put up their respective preorder sign-up pages for the new console. The retailers will notify those who submit their contact info about when preorders will be available.
What are the PS5’s specs?
Like the Xbox Series X, the PlayStation 5 is based around custom AMD CPUs and GPUs; the PS5 incorporates an eight-core Zen 2-architecture CPU running at up to 3.5GHz, and a 7nm Navi/RDNA 2 2.23GHz GPU with 36 compute units and 16GB GDDR6.
The PS5 also switches to solid-state storage like the Xbox, a much-needed change both needed to overcome the slow load times imposed by traditional spinning hard drives. Sony says this will enable developers to load assets directly from storage into the graphics frame-buffer, freeing up general-purpose system memory (which has traditionally been a middleman to speed up PS4 games) and reducing latency.
A base configuration comes with a relatively small 825GB SSD, though the console has NVMe slots to add more as well as support for external USB drives. The NVMe must meet certain speed requirements, though, and as of now, there are few SSDs on the market that are compatible. Sony says an official compatibility list will be made available following the launch when it’s able to do some certification testing. It will also retain a 4K Blu-ray drive for playing movies and for physical game discs.
As a result of the new components, the PS5 will be able to output to a maximum of 8K or 4K at 120fps. The question is, should you really care about 8K?
What games will be available?
Thus far, we know of over 30 games that Sony has highlighted as part of its dribble of information; it showed 25 as part of the June event. There are only a few exclusives as far as we know, with Project Athia and Returnal most recently added to a list that includes Godfall. Here are some notable titles confirmed for the console (those available at or near launch are in bold):
Thanks to game preorder announcements, most recently for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, we know that at least Activision plans to charge an extra $10 over the price of the single-platform version for the bundle with versions of the game playable on both the PS4 and PS5 (for Xbox Series X, too).
Will PS4 and older games work on it?
Sony says the PS5’s chip was designed to incorporate the logic and features of the PS4’s, making it natively backward compatible with older games and that an “overwhelming majority” of the 4,000 PS4 games will work on the PS5. (But in case it wasn’t clear to you already, games for consoles earlier than the PS4 — the PS3, PS2 and original PlayStation — will not.) The faster components will probably deliver a speed boost to those existing games as well. We don’t know if older games will somehow get a quality boost automatically, along the lines of the Xbox Series X’s HDR reconstruction.
Is there a new controller, too?
In April 2020 Sony revealed a new DualSense controller that will ship with the console. The new controller will adopt haptic feedback to replace the older “rumble” sensation, making it possible to deliver a broader range of sensations, including textures and collisions. There will also be new speakers in the controllers and a USB-C port.
The controllers also incorporate adaptive triggers in the L2 and R2 buttons. If developers choose, they can program resistance into the triggers so you can feel a “tactile sensation” of drawing a bow, accelerating a vehicle off-road and more. It makes games more immersive overall.
The new hardware has a design similar to that of previous versions, but a much different look with its predominantly white color with black space where the analog sticks are located along with some blue accents.
New to the DualSense is a built-in microphone, which means a headset won’t be needed to communicate with others in multiplayer games. It will have an audio jack for a wired headset similar to the DualShock 4 , though. Another change is the addition of the “create” button in lieu of the DualShock 4 “share” button. Sony says the new button will operate in the same way but will have more functions that it will reveal in the future.
How does the PS5 compare to the Xbox Series X?
The most novel aspect of the PS5 is the DualSense controller, though a lot will depend on its developer support. Sony has replaced rumble with more sensation-specific haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, which may deliver a much better gaming experience. But that small SSD may be a drawback, as may the price to add extra storage, and the Xbox Series X’s Smart Delivery may win some folks over. But the PS5 reportedly has a new Activities feature that will let you jump straight into a game, bypassing the main interface.
Some high-profile folks in the game industry have already begun to take sides. For instance, Valve cofounder and Steam creator Gabe Newell has come down on the side of the Xbox Series X.