Recent rumours that PS5 dev kits had been sent out to game developers – so they could begin working on blockbuster AAA games for the future console – have all but gone flat.
The source of the rumours was industry insider Marcus Sellars, who more recently has been fairly on the money revealing details about the most recent Nintendo Direct and Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 announcement before they were made official.
According to sellers, dev kits were set out earlier this year, but outside of this, there’s no proper hard evidence.
But since Seller’s tweet chatter around these dev kits has gone fairly quiet. Which is slightly strange when you consider that since the start of 2018 there’s been a never-ending supply of news, ‘leaks’ and all-around industry chatter around Sony’s next PlayStation 5 console.
Assuming though that these dev kits have been sent out it’s all in the name of getting developers to start producing these top-tier titles that might take good few years to create.
But whilst not as exciting as rumours about dev kits, there has been another big rumour recently which should have PlayStation owners incredibly excited beyond simply better-looking games.
Allegedly it’s possible that this new PS5 console could launch with backwards compatibility features, similar to Xbox’s existing set up that’s proved so successful.
The rumours stem from an unearthed Sony Interactive Entertainment America patent that was updated last month which now includes the line: “Backward compatibility testing of software in a mode that disrupts timing.”
Whilst this does bode well for PlayStation fans, it would go against almost everything that’s been communicated by Sony in recent months, who have been very reluctant to pursue the feature, as made clear by SIEE’s Jim Ryan last year around E3.
Speaking to TIME, Ryan explained that while it’s one of the more vocal fan-requests, he believed that it would be something that few users would actually use.
“When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much,” Ryan told Time.
“That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?”
While it’s possible that Sony may have softened their stance, there’s probably a more logical explanation.
For instance, going off Ryan’s comments, why would Sony preserve PS1, PS2 and even PS3 games which may have dated quite badly.
But backwards compatibility for PS4 games, which are of a much higher standard would make sense. It would also validate Sony’s reason to remaster a few of their console favourites. More recently with Shadow of the Colossus and with MediEvil also in the pipeline.
For now, though, we can only take these assumptions as nothing more than hopeful theories.
Which is because so far the only official news about the PS5 has come from a brief comment from Sony’s Shawn Layden who confirmed the PlayStation 5 is “coming” but that it will “probably be some time”.
And by some time, the general consensus from analysts seems to suggest that this release date will be around 2020.
Most recently NPD analyst Mat Piscatella was asked in an interview with Gamingbolt about when he believed the PS5 could arrive after talking about the possible fortunes of the PS4 in the years ahead.
And asked if it’s possible that the PS4 console could hit 100 million units sold by 2019 end, Piscatella responded:
“Hardware units are mainly driven by content and pricing strategies. I’m interested in seeing how the PS4’s price point changes over the year both in base price as well as in promotional pricing. I do expect the PS4 to have another great year of sales, but I do expect it to be down versus 2018.”
Naturally, Gamingbolt followed up by asking when the right time would be for Sony to launch the PlayStation 5, to which Piscatella said:
“2020 is what I have in my forecast. The data suggest there’s no need to do it earlier. But I’ve been surprised before so I’m as interested in this as anyone.”
This analysis and comments echo similar sentiments shared by leading tech website ArsTechnica.com following the release of Sony 2017 financials at the start of February.
“Shipments of the PlayStation 4 were down, from 9.7 million units a year ago to 9 million, resulting in a slight downward trend in hardware revenue,” remarked Gamesindustry.biz last month.
ArsTechnica.com followed up with an opinion piece that suggested the PS4 “may have peaked”. The report said:
“It seems likely that Sony’s annual shipments for the PS4 will never climb higher than that number based on historical analysis … With the end of 2017, the PS4 has reached the end of its fourth full year on the market, and the console seems set to begin its long decline in annual sales.”
Going one step further, the site then suggested that this ‘PS4 shipment peak’ could now start “the long countdown to the PlayStation 5” in years to come.
The 2020 release, as mentioned, fits with past analyst predictions, such as those made by well-respected Wedbush Securities Analyst Michael Pachter.
Speaking on The 1099 Podcast back in September last year, Pachter said: “I think that’s exactly when you’ll see one (PS5) 2019 or 2020, and if I had to bet, it’s 2020.
“Sony’s making so much money with the PS4 that I think they’ll continue to milk it as long as they can milk it,” claimed Pachter.
“And I think the natural extension of that is the PS4 Pro becomes the default PS4, and they just knock that price down to $250 when they can and they keep selling it — a tonne of those.
“The PS5 is probably going to be their real 4K device, and so it just feels to me that they’re not going to launch the PS5 until sales momentum for the PS4 slows, and it just hasn’t.
“So you certainly get through 2017, 2018, and I just don’t see it slowing in 2018 which should prop them to launch something in 2019.
“If it slows in 2019, they’re probably launching in 2020.”
More recently, industry expert Christopher Dring, publisher for Gameindustry.biz, had also told followers on Twitter that he’d been hearing rumours of “Sony slowing up progress on PS5 rattling around for a few months”.
All signs so far do appear to suggest 2020 as the most likely year for a new PlayStation console.