Microsoft has been relatively open as of late about the features of the Xbox Series X. On the other hand, Sony is holding a more secretive stance about the PS5.
Back in 2013, Sony Interactive Entertainment presented the PS4 around February, which means that some are becoming concerned about the relative lack of specific info as of March, at times citing pressure stemming from the competition’s relatively transparent approach.
Yet, in 2013 the situation was very different compared to today. Sony was coming out of a generation that wasn’t certainly a disaster but wasn’t a complete success either. The shift to a new generation was eagerly anticipated not only by the fans but also by executives eager to apply a soft reset to the market.
On the other hand, 2020 sees a completely different situation: Sony has a firm grip on the majority share of the console market and isn’t in any hurry to shake the proverbial tree.
Even more importantly, the house of PlayStation still has strong cards to play to push its current generation console, with The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima, which had a prominent release date trailer yesterday.
Both games have solid potential to be blockbusters, determining one of the strongest generational climaxes for PlayStation, getting the fans excited way before the PS5 actually hits the shelves.
Sony Interactive Entertainment invested considerable resources in these games that will hit just before the generational shift, so it’s not at all surprising that it’s holding back on the reveal of the PS5, which would likely overshadow the hype for its current-generation games.
If the PS5 was released tomorrow, those games would suddenly move from upcoming and massively-anticipated blockbusters to “old-gen” games in the minds of part of the audience, possibly deflating part of the anticipation regardless of the fact that they’re going to be playable on PS5 via backward compatibility.
On the other hand, Sucker Punch and Naughty Dog’s upcoming labors of love definitely deserve their time in the limelight, which is likely part of the reason why Sony’s executives are trying to give them as much breathing room as possible before dropping the hardest-hitting next-gen news, which will likely include info on the first next-gen games.
Does Sony even need to hurry and show this mysterious PS5 anyway?
I hope you’ll forgive the military comparison, but the position of the PS4 as the absolute market leader is pretty much akin to tactical higher ground, and upcoming highly-anticipated games like Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part II can be likened to powerful heavy artillery pieces.
If the PS4 generation taught us something (or better, reinforced a notion that was already known) is that strong games are one of the most relevant if not the decisive factor in a console’s commercial success. They can overshadow almost everything else.
At the moment, Sony’s army is comfortably sitting on top of a fortified hill looking down at the “enemy” forces assembling in the valley, and it’s preparing to bring the heavy artillery to bear.
When you have the higher ground and the artillery advantage, you don’t really need to march down the hill and meet the enemies on their same level.
You can pretty much dictate the rules of engagement and weaken the enemy ranks with heavy artillery barrages until you decide on your own terms that it’s time to engage.
You can force them to come to you, attacking uphill (which is always a big tactical disadvantage), or you can simply wait until your heavy shells have pounded them into submission before you finally meet them in battle.
The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima look like they can be really high-caliber high-explosive shells, not only due to their short-term potential, but also because they have a good chance to reinforce the audience’s expectations of Sony’s lineup during the PS5 generation as well, which is great AAA exclusives that have few equals among the competition.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Sony can wait forever. You can sit on your fortified hill only for so long before your ammo runs out. When it does, then the enemy can simply use its maneuvering advantage to encircle you, cut your supply routes, and starve you out.
This means that there is a threshold beyond which Sony will have to make its move. For instance, if Microsoft were to open pre-orders for Xbox Series X and Sony did not respond with a full reveal of PS5 and its own pre-orders, this could allow the house of Xbox to run away with the ball (yes. I know that it’s weird to move from military comparison to football, but please bear with me). It’s much easier to convince those on the fence to pre-order your product when they haven’t already pre-ordered the competition’s.
That being said, we’re certainly not there yet. Microsoft has not opened pre-orders or even announced the price of the Xbox Series X, while Sony hasn’t run out of artillery shells just yet.
When that happens, then Sony can bring out its tank brigade (IE: the reveal of the PS5 and its pre-orders) and engage in battle on its own terms.
Of course, this requires delicate timing and seizing the right opportunities at the right time. Wait too long, and you may relinquish the tactical advantage, but striking before your heavy hitters had a chance to apply their full power can be just as detrimental, not to mention wasteful.
Ultimately, warfare is in many cases a matter of timing, and console wars aren’t an exception. Master the timing, and you have given yourself a strong advantage.
While history teaches that there is no advantageous position that can’t be challenged, Sony’s upcoming games are among the means the house of PlayStation has to influence that timing, and it seems to be using them to their fullest.