The PS5 was supposed to be a console that proved that Sony believed in generations – that was at least what the company originally said back in May 2020.
In case you forgot, here’s a reminder of what Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said to Gamesindustry.biz when he was specifically asked if PS5 games could be played on PS4, just as Microsoft suggested with Xbox Series X games like Halo Infinite :
“We have always said that we believe in generations. We believe that when you have difficulty creating a next generation console, it should include features and benefits that the previous generation does not include. And that, in our view, people should create. games that can get the most out of these features. “
Ryan went on to add: “We believe in generations, and whether it̵
Sony’s attitude towards console generations was widely interpreted as such, as: PS5 exclusives were important, even necessary, and developers who wanted to make games for PS5 did not have to worry about being held back by older hardware.
Today, Ryan’s statement in May 2020 does not fully agree with Sony’s actions.
Right after the PS5 Showcase event, which took place in September last year, Sony began to go back on the idea of not bringing PS5 games to PS4. It started with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Horizon: Forbidden West – all three titles were placed as PS5 exclusive, until Sony revealed that the trio of high-profile exclusives would be general after all.
However, it was not announced during the PS5 Showcase event, which was watched by thousands of avid PlayStation fans. Instead, it chose to reveal the news discreetly in a post on the PlayStation blog.
In response to the news, which came as a surprise to many, Ryan had this to say: “We know that the PS4 community will switch to PS5 at different times, and we are pleased to announce PS4 versions of some of our exclusive products. , ”Ryan told the PlayStation blog. “While these three games were designed to take advantage of the PS5 and its unique next-generation features such as ultra-speed SSDs and DualSense controllers, PS4 owners will also be able to enjoy these experiences when they launch.”
While it’s true that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure do not use PS5’s unique features, such as the DualSense controller, it should be made clear that they are still perfectly playable on PS4. It would not be too unreasonable to assume that Sony deliberately withheld this information until the last minute in case it damaged PS5 sales, otherwise, why did it not share it before?
Unfortunately, Sony continues to dangle the proverbial carrot with other alleged PS5 exclusives, only to change the narrative down the line. God of War: Ragnarok and Gran Turismo 7, when announced, both seemed to be destined for PS5. In fact, a “New and Upcoming Games” trailer from Sony clearly specifies that Gran Turismo 7 is a PlayStation 5 exclusive (jump to the 23-second mark in the video below to see for yourself).
But now it turns out that this may not be the case. In a long question and answer with PlayStation Studios boss Herman Hulst on the PlayStation blog, Sony has once again revealed some surprises.
Hulst said: “Where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5 – for Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, GT7 – we will continue to look at it. And if PS4 owners want to play that game, then they can. If they want to go ahead and play the PS5 version, the game will be there for them. ”
God of War and Gran Turismo 7, it seems, will almost certainly drop on Sony’s aging hardware, even if we do not see Kratos’ next adventure before 2022. Talk about a sharp U-turn.
Now, from a business perspective, I fully understand Sony’s logic. Sony has sold more than 110 million PS4 consoles, and PS5 shares are still harder to find than a snow leopard in a snowstorm. It therefore makes sense to support PlayStation 4 with new content, especially from Sony’s first-class studios.
However, there are millions of people who bought a PS5 on the back of Sony’s original promise, and that’s where it’s hard not to feel offended. Sony can be accused of being targeted coy in how it finesse its definition of what constitutes a true PS5 exclusive. And even now we do not have explicit confirmation that God of War and GT7 are exclusive to PS5 – PS4 versions seem almost guaranteed based on Hulst’s interview, but it is not crystal clear.
The truth hurts
What makes Sony’s actions even more distasteful is that Microsoft was criticized for admitting that Xbox One would receive Xbox Series X first-party exclusives like Halo Infinite when these games were launched. The company even went so far as to say that the Xbox One would receive exclusive games for at least a year, and this led many to believe that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S would be held back as a result, or that the consoles would not not be able to provide a real next generation experience.
And while that may have been true to some degree, and may have been disappointing news for some, consumers at least knew exactly what they were buying when it came to Microsoft’s new machines. If you wanted to wait for real next-generation experiences, you could – you did not have to rush and buy a new Xbox on the first day to play the latest titles.
However, Sony has not been as forthcoming. And as we have seen on more than one occasion, it has become a habit to string players together, only to reveal the true details at a later date.
This approach is naive at best and dishonest at worst. There will be people who sold the PS4 just to play a game that they thought would not be available on that system, because Sony decided to withhold this important information.
Only on PlayStation
As it stands, the only titles that can be classified as true PS5 exclusions in 2021 will be Astros Playroom, Demon’s Souls, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart and Deathloop. You could argue for Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Intergrade as well, to some extent – but most of the game already exists on PS4, although there is PS5-exclusive content bolted on for the Intergrade version.
And honestly, this lineup would be perfectly fine if Sony had only been ready from the start.
While I do not personally subscribe to the idea that Horizon: Forbidden West will not be great because development has been held back by PS4’s limitations, or that Halo Infinite will somehow be a little less enjoyable due to the Xbox One, I can sympathize with those who feel they have been misled.
Sony needs to be more transparent going forward, as the last thing they want is to create mistrust on the part of consumers, who may feel the need to guess at all future announcements. It must also remember that it has a responsibility to be clear in the message, so that people do not make purchasing decisions based on potentially misleading announcements, or information that could clearly have been shared earlier.