This week it’s all about the big two in gaming. Sony and Microsoft.
The endless console war got ratcheted up a few notches this week with both companies dropping details on their plans for the next round of gaming systems.
We’ll start with Microsoft. While the maker of the Xbox isn’t ready for a truly next-gen console, at least in the near future, Microsoft did officially unveil their new Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. Available for preorder now, the $250 console will arrive in stores May 7, and, aside from removing the Blu-ray drive, users really won’t notice any major differences between this console and the original One S that was released back in 2016. And that’s because there aren’t any. Everything about the new console—down to the GPU, CPU, size, shape, and color—is exactly the same.
Jeff Gattis, Micrsoft’s general manager of Platform and Devices Marketing, explained that the company isn’t looking to push consumers towards an all-digital gaming experience with the new console. Rather, they’re looking to meet the needs of a different kind of customer—one who prefers to download and stream games rather than have to purchase physical media. Hey, it’s 2019 after all.
On to Sony. PlayStation’s parent company is still at least a year away from being ready to officially announce their truly next-gen console, but that didn’t stop them from shedding all kinds of light on the device that will presumably be known as the PlayStation 5.
Mark Cerny, the lead system architect for the PlayStation 4, sat down for an exclusive interview with Wired this week, where he detailed nearly everything that’s going on with, and in-to, the company’s next console. Simply put, the PlayStation 5 is going to be an absolute beast of a machine. It’s going to run on the third gen of AMD’s Ryzen processor with upgraded CPUs and GPUs, support for 8K graphics, and backwards compatibility—at least with PlayStation 4 games.
But two things stood out about the new console from Cerny’s interview: an improved audio experience, and the addition of a solid state drive. On the audio side, Cerny said that Sony will utilize the upgraded processing power to deliver a 3D audio presentation. While most ideal in a headphone setting, the experience will essentially wrap the user in sound, making them more spatially aware and immersed in the game.
What will excite the game developer community even more, though, is the rumored addition of a solid state drive in the PlayStation 5. According to Cerny, it’s one of the most-requested features that Sony appears ready to deliver on. SSDs come standard, essentially, on budget laptops today and are crucial when it comes to enabling those devices to run smoothly and at a relatively fast pace. Sony, and Microsoft for that matter, offer external SSDs that can improve load times. But not all SSDs are created equal, and, understanding that fact, Sony plans to build something a little more customized for its next-gen console. The top-line result will be dramatically reduced load times for gamers.
Details on possible pricing or a target release date remain to be seen, but all of a sudden we feel a heck of a lot closer to the launch of a PS5 than ever before, so stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.