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By Usama Jawad96
Going into the next generation, Sony needs to stop its deceptive marketing tactics
by Usama Jawad
Let me say this right off the bat: When it comes to gaming, I'm platform-agnostic. I'll play on whatever machine offers a decent gaming experience, regardless of whether it's made by Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, or any PC-maker for that matter. I strongly believe that as long as you're satisfied with the gaming experience offered by a piece of hardware, you should enjoy it regardless of whether it packs the most powerful silicon on the market.
With that out of the way, let's start with the topic on hand. I have mostly played on the PlayStation 4 in this generation and have really enjoyed Sony's exclusives especially God of War, The Last of Us Remastered, Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn, Death Stranding (which is not a PS4 exclusive anymore), and more. Sony has really built my trust in this generation and while I'm very excited about the budget-friendly Xbox Series S, the PlayStation 5 feels like a no-brainer to me as well given the absolutely incredible PS4 exclusives this generation.
However, before I dip my toes into the next generation of consoles, I need Sony to stop its deceptive marketing tactics which were quite clearly exposed in its PlayStation 5 showcase event earlier this week.
For starters, Sony Interactive Entertainment's Jim Ryan had been making a huge deal for the past few months about how the company believes in console generations. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz back in May, the executive went on to say:
Notice the emphasis on the PlayStation 5 offering features not possible on the PlayStation 4 at all. Fans were led to believe that games were going to be built ground-up for the next-gen console, offering experiences that the current-gen is not capable of.
Following this statement, when Halo: Infinite was announced as a cross-gen exclusive by Microsoft, the company drew a lot of criticism from the online community, which claimed that the reason for the unimpressive visuals were likely due to the title being held back by current-gen hardware. Soon after this negative reception, Microsoft was forced to delay its highly-anticipated Xbox Series X|S launch title into next year.
Because Sony had so strongly stated that it believes in generations and its games taking full advantage of new hardware, it was praised by many for taking this bold step, unlike Microsoft.
Fast-forward to the Japanese tech giant's showcase event earlier this week, and and most of us learned via prominent game journalist Geoff Keighley - so not even via Sony directly, at first - that three of the company's supposedly exclusive PlayStation 5 titles, namely Horizon: Forbidden West, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and SackBoy A Big Adventure, are also coming to the PlayStation 4. Sony's Jim Ryan explains the company's change of heart as follows:
While I completely agree with Ryan that it simply wouldn't make sense from a business point-of-view to abandon a huge current-gen PlayStation community, it goes against everything the executive has been emphasizing for the past few months. None of these aforementioned titles were announced as cross-gen, and all of Sony's marketing material mention them as PlayStation 5 titles only. The community has noticed this U-turn and is understandably calling out Sony for it.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to sound like an entitled gamer. As the happy owner of a PlayStation 4, it's actually good to know that I'll be able to play upcoming AAA titles without shelling out hundreds of bucks for new hardware.
What's problematic to me is the lack of clear communication from Sony's end. It's disingenuous to customers to have them lambast Microsoft's cross-gen strategy for the past few months and then suddenly announce that you're planning on following that strategy too. Is the current-gen hardware then holding back PlayStation 5 titles too? Is it worth upgrading to the PlayStation 5 so early in the generation's cadence knowing that I'll be able to play most titles on current-gen hardware? I mean, sure, better frames-per-second, ray-tracing, and 4K textures sound like things worth upgrading to, but the absence of those never stopped me from enjoying all the PlayStation 4 exclusives I mentioned at the start of this piece.
At the end of the day, it's the offerings of the game itself that make me stick to certain hardware. If the gameplay of Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon: Forbidden West is good enough for me on the PlayStation 4, maybe I don't even need to buy the PlayStation 5 for these particular games so soon.
Overall, I probably wouldn't have minded this move as much as long as Sony had made stuff like this clear from the start rather than harping about how it believes in console generations. It's the lost trust due to unclear communication that's the problem here, not the games launching with cross-gen capabilities.
But this is not the only place where Sony lost my trust. The other notable instance is the PlayStation 5 pre-orders fiasco. In an interview with Geoff Keighley back in July, Sony Head of Worldwide Marketing Eric Lempel stated that the company would give "plenty of time" before opening pre-orders. During the firm's showcase event earlier this week, no mention was made regarding pre-orders. Some people received emails from Sony with unique URLs to place orders for the PlayStation 5 but there was no mention of this even on the PlayStation Blog.
Keighley once again flew in to save the day and announced that PlayStation 5 pre-orders would open on Thursday, and shortly after, the PlayStation Twitter account also announced the same. Amidst this confusion, it appears some retailers chose to open pre-orders on the same day (that is, Wednesday) and then all hell broke loose, with practically every retailer making their PlayStation 5 listings active with the console being sold out in minutes. So much for the "plenty of time" being offered to customers to place their orders.
The thing is, this wasn't completely or directly Sony's fault. Some trigger-happy retailer decided to open pre-orders early and chaos ensued. The problem is, Sony as a major corporation launching a highly-anticipated should have foreseen this, it should have clearly announced pre-order dates beforehand, and it should have been more than a one-day notice.
Note that as someone who lives in Pakistan where Sony doesn't even officially launch consoles, the pre-order fiasco doesn't even bother me directly. What bothers me about this is that this is yet another instance of Sony's lack of clear communication. Due to the company's mishandling of the situation and not providing customers crystal-clear instructions, potentially hundreds of thousands of customers around the globe weren't even given a chance to be among the first to get their hands on the console come November, simply because they believed that Sony would indeed be giving them ample notice, as promised.
In the other camp, Microsoft is now capitalizing on Sony's misfires, and rightly so. It has poked fun at Sony's pre-order snafu, and just recently and clearly announced pre-order dates in various countries. With pre-orders starting on September 22, this is what I call "plenty of time" to decide whether you want to lighten your wallet right now or wait a bit.
Similarly, the company has also uploaded videos on its Xbox YouTube channel, highlighting Quick Resume and faster loading times capabilities on the Series S. Note that these videos highlight the power of the less-powerful $299 console, not the $499 Series X. To me, this is the epitome of confidence from Microsoft's part about its faith in its upcoming consoles as well as a very clear message to customers about the benefits they can expect from investing in the company's machines. One can safely assume that the performance on the Xbox Series X will be better. This is something that instills confidence for potential customers, and it's all thanks to the company's transparent communication over the past few months. Sure you might not like the titles available on the Series X|S consoles, and that is fine, but at least you know exactly what you're getting when you buy either of the two machines. This clarity has been missing from most of Sony's marketing material.
That said, there's still almost two months before the PlayStation 5 launches. Instead of making claims that it can't back up with its games and events, the company should instead focus on clearly telling consumers what they can expect when they purchase a PlayStation 5. The latest antics from the company have definitely fanned flames of "console wars" among the gaming community and are good for marketing, but they ultimately harm Sony's image when it can't live up to its promises. Right now, almost every Tweet by the PlayStation Twitter account is being criticized for how the company handled the pre-orders situation, and the frustration is understandable. With the next generation just around the corner, it isn't smart to alienate a loyal playerbase.
While these latest snafus by Sony don't turn me away from the PlayStation 5 (I really want to play God of War: Ragnarok!), but the firm's - unintentionally or intentionally - deceptive marketing tactics have diminished my trust, which means that I'll have to be very careful with setting expectations for next-gen, because I can't take anything Sony says at face value anymore.
By Usama Jawad96
Poll: Which next-generation console are you interested in buying?
by Usama Jawad
The next generation of consoles is just around the corner, and we are now aware of almost all the important details including specifications, features, launch titles, value for money, pricing, and availability.
From Sony's end, we have two offerings: the PlayStation 5 and the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. These siblings are the same in almost every aspect including a 3.5GHz octa-core AMD Ryzen Zen 2 CPU, a 10TFLOPS GPU, 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, a custom 825GB SSD, and games targeting up to 4K 120Hz video output. The only difference between the two consoles is that the standard PlayStation 5 packs an Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc drive, while the Digital Edition does not. The pre-orders situation has been messy so far, but the consoles officially launch starting on November 12 with price tags of $499 for PlayStation 5 and $399 for the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition.
Over in Microsoft's camp, the situation is quite different. We have two consoles, namely the Xbox Series X and the Series S, but both pack considerably different hardware and are intended for different audiences.
The more powerful Series X packs a 3.8GHz (3.6GHz with SMT) octa-core custom Zen 2 CPU, a 12TFLOPS GPU, 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, a custom 1TB SSD with Xbox Velocity Architecture, and games targeting up to 4K 120Hz video output. It also packs an Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc drive.
Meanwhile the less powerful Xbox Series S differs with a 3.6GHz (3.4GHz with SMT) custom Zen 2 CPU, 4TFLOPS GPU, 10GB of GDDR6 RAM, a custom 512GB SSD with the same architecture as its sibling, and games targeting up to 1440p 120Hz video output. It lacks an Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc drive as well and is meant to be an all-digital console.
Given their differing internals, the Series X is priced at $499 while the budget-friendly Series S sports a price tag of $299. Pre-orders for Microsoft's offerings start from September 22, with the consoles officially launching on November 10.
With potential customers such as Neowin readers now aware of what the tech behemoths are offering, their price tags, availability, and bang for your buck, we are interested to know: which console are you looking to buy come holiday season or later? Do you have eyes on multiple consoles rather than sticking with a single option in this generation?
Let us know by voting in the poll below (multiple options can be selected)! We're also interested to know the reasoning behind your choice so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section!
By Garg Ankit
Sony confirms PlayStation 5 will not support PS1, PS2, or PS3 titles
by Garg Ankit
Now that the pricing and availability details of the upcoming Sony gaming consoles are out, gamers are eager to get their hands on them and play their hearts out. While PlayStation 4 titles will run on the PlayStation 5, there was a pretty good chance the backward compatibility won't stretch to older consoles.
Sony Interactive Entertainment's CEO Jim Ryan has now confirmed in an interview to Famitsu that PS5 will not be backward compatible with PS3, PS2, or PS1 game titles, while the games purchased for PS4 can be played on the PS5. Ubisoft's support site had stated the same last month, but now there is an official confirmation.
The interview excerpt, as translated by Silicon Era, reads:
It is worth noting that even PlayStation 4 did not support such backward compatibility for PS3 games owing to the unique structure of the latter. In contrast, the rival console maker Microsoft says backward compatible games will run and look better on the newly launched Xbox Series X.
Sony introduces the Xperia 5 II with a 120Hz 21:9 display, 5G, and triple cameras
by João Carrasqueira
Sony's smartphones aren't among the most popular nowadays, but that isn't stopping the company from making more of them. Today, Sony announced the Xperia 5 II, and if you're confused, this is closer to the Xperia 1 II flagship than the Xperia 10 II, which was a mid-ranger.
The Xperia 5 II has the same Snapdragon 865 chipset as the Xperia 1 II, and at least in some European markets, it supports 5G, though that won't be the case in the United States. It also has 8GB of RAM, but it cuts down the storage to 128GB, half of what's offered in the Xperia 1 II, though you can expand that with microSD cards.
One of the big changes is in the display, which is a 6.1-inch 21:9 Full HD+ panel with HDR, but with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate and motion blur reduction. By contrast, the Xperia 1 II had a 6.5-inch 4K display, but it had a standard refresh rate. The smaller display also allows the phone to be more compact, which is one of the selling points touted by Sony. Despite that, it has the same 4,000mAh battery as the bigger brother.
As usual, the camera setup is a focus for Sony, with three cameras on the back of the phone borrowing technology from the company's Alpha cameras. All three cameras are 12MP, and they have different focal lengths and field of view, ranging from 34° for the telephoto camera to 124° for the ultra-wide camera. It features Sony's Real-time Eye AF, which means you can keep subjects in focus more easily as they move around. The phone can record video at 4K and 120 frames per second so you can get "cinematic" slow-motion video when you play it back at 24 frames per second.
The Sony Xperia 5 II wil be available on September 29 in the U.S, according to the sales page, and it costs $950. In Europe, Sony only said it's coming in the fall, and it will cost €899/£799.
PlayStation Plus on PS5 will offer a collection of popular PS4 games as a new benefit
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Sony finally revealed the PlayStation 5 consoles' price point and release date during its latest showcase. To further entice its fans, the company also had a new announcement regarding its PlayStation Plus subscription service, which is getting an upgrade on the next-generation consoles.
Arriving with the name PlayStation Plus Collection, this new benefit to the Plus subscription offers "a curated library of PS4 games that defined the generation" for the PlayStation 5 at launch. The included games feature high profile PlayStation 4 exclusives like God of War, Bloodborne, and The Last of Us Remastered, as well as third party titles such as Battlefield 1 and Resident Evil 7.
Based on the announcement trailer, here are the 18 games that are included:
Bloodborne Battlefield 1 Batman: Arkham Knight Days Gone Detroit: Become Human Fallout 4 Final Fantasy XV God of War inFamous: Second Son The Last of Us Remastered The Last Guardian Monster Hunter: World Mortal Kombat X Persona 5 Resident Evil 7 Ratchet & Clank Until Dawn Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End The existing benefits like access to online play and the monthly free games will continue as well.
With this move, those jumping into a PlayStation 5 without a backlog of PlayStation 4 games now have the opportunity to experience some of this generation's greatest hits without needing to purchase them individually, similar to what Microsoft offers with Game Pass for next-gen Xbox console buyers.
However, it’s unclear if this is a temporary upgrade to PlayStation Plus, considering PlayStation Now still exists, and Sony hasn't said whether the collection will expand with more games in the future.