With the current momentum Sony has, the PlayStation 4 remains one of the best-selling consoles ever thanks to a solid set of first-party games, third-party offerings and a console that hits every mark it needs to remain at the top against their competitors, but now, we have to question one very obvious thing – can Sony go into the next generation this strong or will their flame burn out by that time? Let’s talk.
Going into the PlayStation 4, Sony had a lot working in their favor due to Nintendo and Microsoft’s missteps with their last gen and current gen (respectively in that order) approaches. The Wii U failed to meet Nintendo’s expectations, making the Nintendo 3DS their strongest device to date. On the opposite hand, Microsoft’s approach to the Xbox One during its announcement hurt it even more when then-Xbox head Don Mattrick discussed DRM, Online-Always requirements, 24-hour check-in’s and games that users wouldn’t be able to trade-in at the time.
Since that point, Sony has made it their objective to stay ten steps ahead of their competition. So far, they are doing so and they are doing it rather well. They’ve hit a paced stride with their first-party offerings; games such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn and even Detroit: Become Human remain some of their strongest current releases while titles such as Bloodborne and God of War remain on the radar of their fans. But how could possibly go wrong? Well. Quite a bit actually. Let’s take a look.
Sony’s name-change issues could hurt their next generation plans
When you look at how Sony has worked their way through this generation, they’ve been listening to user feedback for the past several years. They’ve continually delivered what fans have asked for from features such as folders to social media integration. They’ve even stepped out and enhanced our games through PlayStation 4 Pro Enhanced experiences.
Along those requests has been the ability to have a name-change feature, something Steam and Xbox users have had at their disposal for quite some time. But this feature may not go as they intentionally planned. Sony has already revealed that changing your PSN ID could have some licensing issues with the purchases you’ve made or games you play.
They’ve revealed some applications may fail to work as intended, DLC may not register as you’d hoped and that the feature could cause some major problems with older titles on their PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita platforms. They’ve even gone as far as to offer a free name-change reversal because of these problems.
The issue here – licensing. That’s all it is. It’s how their network API handles the identity handed over by your PSN ID itself. Unlike Steam or Xbox One, your username is truly based on your PSN ID itself, making it so your digital-only titles recognize that name as their digital “key” to enable them to be used. Luckily, Sony has been hard at work trying to overcome this problem and offering their users the promised feature.
Unfortunately, this feature could also cause some problems moving forward. Die-hard Sony fans are already a bit disgruntled with how this feature is being handled and could be handled when it officially launches outside of beta-testers in 2019. To be honest, I sure hope they fix the problems it has for the guy who lost his PSN eight years after it was made. Hopefully, this feature fixes mr. “KingMADAFAKA”‘s account after it was banned earlier this year.
But you may be wondering, how can this be a problem for the next generation? It’s all about the technology that drives Sony’s networks forward. If they can’t handle a name-change due to licensing issues, they really gotta figure something out and possibly update their API moving forward to handle both name changes and future networking systems for both end-user usability and for their employees.
Networking connectivity troubles on PS4 could carry on with the PlayStation 5
This entire generation, there’s been a major complaint from PlayStation 4 users: Network speeds of PlayStation Network. For users with high-speed internet exceeding speeds of 400Mbps or higher, you may notice that PlayStation Network seems to have a limiter on how much you can download and how fast you can do it.
Even with a 200Mbps connection here at Blast Away the Game Review, we’ve constantly struggled to hit anything near what we have and other users have discussed this very problem as well through Sony’s PlayStation forums. Some users recommend changing the MTU, others recommend changing DNS servers (doesn’t really help, but hey – whatever offers a piece of mind) and others even have gone as far as trying different connection types.
The downside here, it’s all temporary fixes until Sony changes how their networks work. For Sony, it seems that a Network Limiter is put into place, making it so the PlayStation Network servers aren’t being hit as hard as they could be by the 80+ million active users they have.
Moving forward, Sony may want to consider getting with the times, catching up to both Microsoft and Steam and remove those Network Limiters so that people can actually use the full speed of their networks to play, download, and share the games they own.
Next-Gen PlayStation Exclusives
Look, this generation has been solid. We’ve had some astounding experiences thanks to Sony’s plethora of first-party exclusive titles. God of War stole our breath with its shocking approach to moving forward and also soft-rebooting a well-established franchise. Sony has even kept the pace with newly-established franchises such as Marvel’s Spider-Man, Bloodborne, and even Until Dawn, all deserving of their proper sequels if they get one.
This generation, we’ve seen as many as 30+ PlayStation exclusives whether they are AAA or indie titles alike. They all have remained solid experiences and they’ve all continued being so regardless of how you or when you to choose the way you experience them. Sony isn’t even done thanks to third-party publishers. We’re already gearing up for games like God Eater 3 to come kicking in the door from Bandai Namco among many other games and publishers.
The problem now is going to be very clear unless Sony has something up their sleeves: We’re running out of possibilities due to how slammed Sony’s current-gen offerings actually are. Sony has made sure that we’ve had plenty to experience and plenty more to look forward to in the upcoming year. We’re already buckling down for the ride with the upcoming adventures thanks to the emotionally-driven trailers for The Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Days Gone and Death Stranding.
But what then? What do you do when you’ve begun to exhaust some of your most anticipated games to date? We still don’t even have any idea what happened to the PlayStation 4 exclusive from Capcom called Deep Down and it seems that Sony still has a lot to do before they can really deliver the titles they’re going to need to kick off the next-generation PlayStation console.
As a former Xbox 360 fan, I’ve come to absolutely love my PlayStation 4, but I’m still concerned about what the future holds. Sony has already lost exclusivity to some of their biggest hitters such as Kingdom Hearts and possibly Final Fantasy XIV after the director and producer, Yoshi-P, expressed interest of an Xbox and Nintendo Switch release in the future in an interview with VGR.
Sony’s only weapon that remains in their arsenal is evidently releasing as many hard-hitting exclusives as they can. After Microsoft announced their purchasing of five new studios including Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), Undead Labs (State of Decay), The Initiative from former chief of Crystal Dynamics, Darrel Gallagher, and Forza Horizon 4 co-developer Playground Games.
The issue here is very evident. Microsoft knows what they need to do in order to make the Xbox brand bigger, better and louder than ever for gaming enthusiasts and hobbyists.
PlayStation Plus offerings. They are still not the best.
While PlayStation Plus is an awesome feature and a required one for the PlayStation 4 and PSN activity, Sony has a real problem with what PlayStation Plus has to offer. Sure, there are discounts, there are amazing flash sales, but there are problems with it all. PlayStation fans have remained rather vocal about the PlayStation Plus free game offerings.
Many have been unhappy with it from the start. With only a few triple-A titles having been offered and worth the while, fans remain a bit disgruntled with offerings both new and old. After all, the biggest titles for them to offer free were 2017’s Destiny 2 and the PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne in recent years. While there have certainly been a few other major hitters in the mix, fans remain a bit curious about what other games Sony will offer.
Many of the offerings have been titles fans already own, which has been the case a plethora of times. Sony’s biggest issue with PlayStation Plus comes around with what games they offer. Fans want new, they want bigger, better, and bolder steps in the right direction. They want PlayStation exclusives such as this year’s God of War and 2017’s Hitman episodic series.
There have even been fans clamoring for the idea of spacefaring titles such as Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky or bringing back PS3 free-to-play titles such as Dust 514. The only downside to these requests? Sony isn’t going to listen and they don’t seem intent on doing so. After all, it took how many gears to get PSN ID changes that may cause your games not to work?
UHD disc-capability and native 4k gameplay at 60fps
Unless your a PC gaming enthusiast, 4K gameplay at or above 60fps is a thing only dreams are made of. Even with the power of the Xbox One X and Dynamic Resolution scaling, you may find that both Microsoft and Sony have struggled with the latter of the two topics above. Neither can hit truly native 4K graphics while offering a 60fps experience even with the release of Forza Horizon 4 in the past couple of weeks. You can check out the analysis video from Digital Foundry here if you want the proof.
Sadly, the consoles weren’t made for it by any means necessary. Sure, the Xbox One X is a step ahead of its predecessors, but it still struggles due to the limitations put in place by how Microsoft’s hardware processes games and data. There’ve even been developers coming out and saying that the Xbox One X itself does struggle to do 60fps on a consistent basis.
The PlayStation 4 Pro processing 60fps at 4K resolution isn’t even possible. We all know it and unfortunately, developers have had to cap many of the biggest hitters both first and third-party titles-alike at 30fps when using the 4K settings. Many of this generation titles – examples being Nioh and Monster Hunter: World – have had to release with settings to prioritize graphical fidelity or performance.
The next big move Sony will have to make is making 4K resolutions at 60fps a top priority going into the next generation. Their games can’t be hindered by controversies such as the one surrounding Killzone: Shadowfall, which tricked gamers into seeing 1080p graphics while only rendering at approximately 900p.
The other issue Sony has is the ability to allow for UHD movies to be played via disc. PlayStation 4 Pro users were rudely awakened when Sony revealed that the PlayStation 4 Pro does support UHD videos, but with a catch – they had to be streamed via a streaming service that offers UHD features for their shows or movies.
This time around, Microsoft had the upper hand by allowing the One S and One X to have that feature already enabled thanks to their UHD drives. Now, it’s Sony’s turn to offer a similar feature and provide their fans with the capability of owning UHD discs and watching them too. After all, what’s the point of not making your hardware a centerpiece to your entertainment area if you can’t even use one simple feature?
Closing Thoughts – Only the next-gen PlayStation announcement can lay to rest my concerns
While I’m both excited and concerned about Sony’s future, I have no doubt in my mind that they are taking notes from what led them this far this generation. The PlayStation 4 hasn’t let me down by any means and has collected for less dust than both my Switch, Wii U and Xbox One. Unfortunately, only time will lay to rest the concerns I have.
I’m worried that Sony will stray from the path that has led them to the success they have seen this generation. I’m concerned that they may not fix some of the problems their fans both new and old may already be encountering such as issues with the name change policies, the network connectivity and the kind of experiences we’ll have moving into the future of 4K gaming.
For now, I’ll enjoy what my PlayStation 4 continues to offer and the excitement I’ve shared with my friends over the past five years as the PlayStation 4 officially hits its fifth year in this cycle of gaming. But I still question – will the future look even brighter or will Sony once again make the mistakes they did with the PlayStation 3 and the Vita?
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.