The PS5 Event Was A Spectacular Success and Failure, Both At Once
The poor communication didn’t end here. Sony did not announce when pre-orders will begin for the PS5 during their show; as a matter of fact, independent games personality Geoff Keighley initially tweeted they would be opening the following day, before Sony themselves confirmed this in a tweet. All of this information would have been extremely useful during the show – but we never got it then (what’s more, it seems like Sony was still wrong anyway, because as it turns out, many stores in Australia, the US, and Canada – at last count – were allowing pre-orders right after the show ended).
The actual launch lineup was not revealed during the show, it was, yup, revealed in a blog post afterwards. We legitimately got a trailer for Demon’s Souls, which is a launch game, without a date during the show. Somehow, having a little segment finalizing the launch games, at least the first party launch games, was not a part of the show finalizing the launch details. “99% of all PS4 games” will be playable on PS5, according to Jim Ryan – again, not in the show itself, but in an interview published more than three hours after the event ended.
Every single first party Sony game will be $70 next generation. This is a price raise that was also not communicated during the show. If this had been the only thing Sony had left for after the show, I wouldn’t even have minded, but with the host of other things they left unsaid, it just became a mess, a tangle of trying to figure out exactly what is, and isn’t, true. There was even more confusion in the mix, because initially, Sony had put out a trailer for Demon’s Souls that said it was a console exclusive, and would be coming to PC, and it took them over an hour and a half after the show ended to correct the record on that.
What suddenly happened to Sony’s communication and messaging, which has otherwise been fairly strong with regards to the PS5? Some of the confusion I can understand, there are a lot of moving parts, and when everyone is working from home in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, some confusion is warranted. But when Sony can’t, or won’t, even communicate basic questions such as – what games will the console launch with? Are they coming to just the PS5? How much will these games cost? When can I buy the console? – you have to assume something has gone terribly, fundamentally wrong somewhere.
Again, some of it I get. I would have been very surprised if it had all been smooth, when even in the best circumstances, console launches are a mess. But this went above and beyond whatever misfires you might have expected as far as clear and strong communication goes.
So here we are at the end of a show that by all accounts should have been a triumph. Instead, I now find myself wondering – how exactly does Sony plan on making this the quickest transition to a next generation console? They are selling an expensive new machine, with its biggest hitters available on an existing, cheaper one; the games for the new machine themselves are more expensive than current ones (so you can actually get Horizon 2 for cheaper on PS4 than PS5); even the most exciting third party games, such as Hogwarts Legacy, are cross generation (Resident Evil 8, at least, is going to be next-gen only).
Sony plans on shipping 10 million PS5 units by next March, an unprecedented volume of sales in that short a period. For comparison, the current record holder for getting to 10 million fastest is the Switch, which took slightly over seven months to do so, in a much better economy to boot, and while being a fair bit cheaper; Sony plans to do it with the PS5 in four and a half months. How? I have no doubt the PS5 will sell, and sell a lot, I anticipate sell outs for weeks after launch in fact. But 10 million is a huge number, and Sony is selling an expensive machine in a pandemic with expensive games, the most appealing of which are also available on the much cheaper PS4 which you probably already own, for cheaper. I don’t see it happening. I might be wrong, but unless Jim Ryan has the mother of all aces up his sleeve, I don’t see that happening.
Maybe I would have been more convinced if Sony had actually communicated their plans well, rather than whatever confusing mess we find ourselves in right now.
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