2021 has been a mixed bag for PlayStation. Following the hype surrounding the PS5’s launch in 2020, this year has been significantly quieter, the silence after a raging storm – and that has not necessarily been a good thing.
While PS5 exclusives like Returnal and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart showed how powerful the latest PlayStation console is, ongoing PS5 share issues created an obstacle for people to experience the next generation console, and delays in big name titles like Horizon Forbidden West left a noticeable gap in PlayStation’s first-party selection this year. What’s more, Sony’s U-turn on PS5 exclusives has led us to wonder if the company really “believes in generations,” as Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan previously stated.
After the whirlwind that was last year, PlayStations 2021 has felt a bit outdated, but it looks like 2022 could see that change.
A quiet year
While the launch of the PS5 was a bit easy in terms of exclusives, we started to see developers harnessing the power of Sony’s new hardware with exclusive games such as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Deathloop and Returnal in 2021. But it was not only new . PlayStation games that benefited from PS5’s capabilities this year, we also saw PS4 games like Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima get a PS5 upgrade – which made them run and look better than ever before.
However, the waves from the Covid-19 pandemic continued to be felt by the gaming industry this year, with several PS5 games due to be released in 2021, such as God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7, delayed until 2022.
The absence of these titles could be felt in the first year of the PS5. But as Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service filled the void left by delays and releases, the inadequacy of Sony’s PS Now service was highlighted as a result. Sure, PS Plus still offers an excellent selection of games, including a PS5 game, every month, but Sony needs its own ‘Netflix for games’ to stay relevant (and accessible) in a changing landscape. And if one Bloomberg report from earlier in the month is all to go by, that’s exactly what it’s working on.
But a new subscription service is not the only thing to be excited about in the future of PlayStation. The PlayStation Showcase on September 9 saw the announcement of several upcoming PS5 games to tempt PlayStation fans, including Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Marvel’s Wolverine and a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake. Although these games are a few years out from release, they certainly make owning a PS5 a more enticing proposition.
To make status for generations
While the PS5 increasingly found its feet in 2021, stock issues continue to plague both Sony and gamers. In the year since the PlayStation 5 was launched, it’s still a challenge to get your fingers in one, and all rare stocks are snatched within minutes.
These supply issues have been a hurdle for those eager to upgrade to the next generation of PlayStation, and have likely been the reason for Sony’s U-turn on PS5 exclusive.
Throughout 2020, Sony made it clear that those who downloaded a PS5 upon release would have access to exclusive products not available on the PS4. “We’ve always said we believe in generations,” Ryan said GamesIndustry.biz in May 2020. But since that interview, Sony’s tune has changed. In June 2021 came the news that God of War Ragnarok, Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon Forbidden West would also be coming to PS4.
Sony’s turnaround faced some setbacks when the console that was once hailed as the only place to play these long-awaited titles … was not. So far, Sony’s approach seems to be across generations, while PS5 shares remain a problem. But when we look at upcoming PS5-exclusive titles, belief in different generations may become relevant again.
A brighter future
Sony’s approach to introducing players to the new generation is still somewhat unclear – and a bit out of touch with Microsoft. This has resulted in a year that has been a bit uncertain and quieter than expected for PlayStation owners.
That said, even though things are a bit out of place at the moment, the future looks bright for PlayStation. Next year, the supply chains will hopefully recover, which means those who want to get their fingers in a PS5 should be able to, and we hope the rumors of an Xbox Game Pass competitor come true. In addition, the likely release of PSVR 2, which was confirmed in early 2021, and a host of much-anticipated titles, and PlayStations 2022 could look significantly more exciting for gamers.