The PS5 was supposed to be a console that proved that Sony believed in generations – at least that’s what the company originally said in May 2020.
In case you forgot, here’s a reminder of what Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told Gamesindustry.biz when asked specifically if PS5 games will be playable on the PS4, just as Microsoft suggested with Xbox Series X games like Hello Infinite:
“We have always said that we believe in generations. We believe that when you deal with all the problems in creating a next-generation console, it should include features and benefits that the previous generation does not include. And that, in our opinion, people should make games that make the most of these features. “
Ryan added: “We believe in generations and whether it̵
At the time, Sony’s position on console generations was broadly interpreted as follows: the exclusive PS5 was important, even necessary, and that developers who wanted to make games for the PS5 would not worry about being hampered by older hardware.
Today, Ryan’s statement in May 2020 does not quite coincide with Sony’s actions.
Shortly after the PS5 Showcase, which took place last September, Sony began abandoning the idea of not introducing PS5 games to the PS4. It began with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Horizon: Forbidden West – all three titles were positioned as PS5 exclusives, while Sony revealed that its trio of high-profile exclusives will still be a cross generation.
However, he did not make a announcement during the PS5 Showcase Event, which was watched by thousands of impatient PlayStation fans. Instead, he chose to reveal the news discreetly in a PlayStation blog post.
In response to the news, which came as a surprise to many, Ryan said: “We know that the PS4 community will move to PS5 at different times and we are happy to announce PS4 versions of some of our exclusives, Ryan said on the PlayStation blog. “While these three games are designed to take advantage of the PS5 and its unique next-generation features such as the ultra-high-speed SSD and DualSense controller, 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 take advantage of PS5’s unique features, such as the DualSense controller, the fact that they’re still perfect for PS4 gaming should have become clear from in the beginning. It would not be too unreasonable to assume that Sony deliberately withheld this information until the last minute, in case it harmed PS5 sales, otherwise why not share it earlier?
Unfortunately, Sony continued to hang the proverbial carrot with other supposedly exclusive PS5s, only to change the description below. God of War: Ragnarok and Gran Turismo 7, when announced, both seemed to be designed exclusively for the PS5. In fact, Sony’s “New and Upcoming Games” trailer makes it clear that the Gran Turismo 7 is exclusive to the PlayStation 5 (go to 23 seconds in the video below to see for yourself).
But now it turns out that this may not be the case. In long questions and answers with PlayStation Studios CEO Herman Hulst on the PlayStation blog, Sony once again revealed a few surprises.
Hulst said: “Where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5 – Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, GT7 – we will continue to look at this. And if PS4 owners want to play this game, then they can. If they want to continue and play the PS5 version, this game will be there for them. “
God of War and Gran Turismo 7, it seems, will almost certainly come out on Sony’s aging hardware, although we’ll see Kratos’ next adventure by 2022. Talk about a sharp U-turn.
Now, from a business point of view, I fully understand the logic of Sony. Sony has sold more than 110 million PS4 consoles, and PS5 stocks continue to be harder to find than a snow leopard in a blizzard. Then it makes full sense to support the PlayStation 4 with new content, especially from Sony’s first-class studios.
However, there are millions of people who have bought the PS5 on the back of Sony’s original promise, and it’s hard not to feel upset there. Sony can be accused of being purposefully modest in the way it has refined its definition of what constitutes a true PS5 exclusive. And even now we don’t have explicit confirmation that God of War and GT7 are exclusive to the PS5 – PS4 versions seem almost guaranteed based on Hulst’s interview, but that’s not crystal clear.
The truth hurts
What makes Sony’s actions look even more unpleasant is that Microsoft has been criticized for admitting that the Xbox One will receive premium Xbox Series X exclusives like Halo Infinite when these games launch. The company even went so far as to say that the Xbox One will receive exclusive games for at least a year and this has led many to believe that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will be delayed as a result or that the consoles could not provides a true next-generation experience.
And while that may have been true to some degree, and it may have been disappointing news to some, consumers at least knew exactly what they were buying when it came to Microsoft’s new machines. If you want to wait for real next-generation experiences, you can – no need to rush and buy a new Xbox on the first day to release the latest titles.
However, Sony is not so forthcoming. And as we have seen many times, he has acquired the habit of stringing players, only to reveal the real details later.
This approach is found to be naive at best and dishonest at worst. There will be people who have sold their PS4 just to play a game that they believe will not be available on this system because Sony has decided to keep this important information.
Currently, the only titles that can be classified as true PS5 exclusives in 2021 will be Astro’s Playroom, Demon’s Souls, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart and Deathloop. You can argue to some extent with Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Intergrade – but most of this game already exists on the PS4, even if there is exclusive content attached to the PS5 version of Intergrade.
And frankly, this range would be perfectly good if Sony had just been clear from the start.
While I’m not personally subscribing to the idea that Horizon: The Forbidden West won’t be fantastic because its development is hampered by PS4 limitations, or that Halo Infinite will somehow be less enjoyable because of the Xbox One, I can sympathize with those who feel deluded.
Sony needs to be more transparent in the future, as the last thing it wants is to create mistrust among consumers, who may feel they have to guess every future message. It should also be remembered that he has a responsibility to be clear in his messages so that people do not make purchasing decisions based on potentially misleading messages or information that could obviously have been shared earlier.