It’s common wisdom at this point that most new consoles don’t really get off to great starts. As developers come to grips with the new hardware and production timelines shift to accommodate generation resets, the first year of the majority of consoles is characterized by a relative lack of major hits or excellent releases. There have, of course, been a few notable exceptions to the rule (the Switch being one of the more recent ones), but anytime a new console launches, one can’t help but worry about just how long it’ll take for it to gather some real momentum.
The PS5 has been out for a year at this point, and unsurprisingly, where its sales are concerned, it’s been a massive success for Sony already. Its lifetime worldwide shipments currently stand at 13.4 million units, and it’s become the fastest-selling PlayStation console ever. Of course, things haven’t been perfect – constant supply issues have been a real pain in the neck for a large number of prospective buyers, while the steep decline of PlayStation hardware sales in Japan has been shocking to witness – but by and large, the PS5 has very much got off to the kind of start that Sony would have been hoping for.
From a user’s perspective, however, how has the console’s first year been? At $500 (or $400, if you’re buying the Digital Edition), the PS5 is far from cheap- but thankfully, the first year of the console has rewarded that investment pretty well. There are caveats to that, but on the whole, it’s hard to look back at the last year and not at least be content with your purchase.
The most important factor to consider here, of course, is the games, and there’s been no shortage of those on the PS5. Right off the bat, on day one, the PS5 offered several first party offerings with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Demon’s Souls, and of course, Astro’s Playroom, which came pre-installed in every console that was sold. In addition to this, there were several major third party games included in the PS5’s launch lineup as well, including the likes of Watch Dogs: Legion, The Pathless, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and more.
And there’s been a steady stream of excellent new games to play in the months since then. On the first party front, Sony continued to deliver more games for several months after the PS5 launched, and though something like Destruction AllStars might be considered a bit of a dud, we also got games like Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, both of which are game of the year contenders, while Ghost of Tsushima and Death Stranding both also got enhanced Director’s Cut re-releases. Deathloop, which, of course, isn’t a first party game, did launch as a console exclusive for the PS5, and delivered more of that excellent Arkane gameplay we know and love. Third parties, meanwhile, delivered some excellent stuff as well. In 2021, for instance, the PS5 has added to its library the likes of Hitman 3, Little Nightmares 2, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Lost Judgment, Resident Evil Village, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Tales of Arise, and so much more.
The caveat to all of this, of course, is that where pure and simple exclusives are concerned, the PS5 hasn’t had an awful lot to offer in terms of pure numbers. Of course, at the end of the day, if you’re buying a PS5 and playing and enjoying a game on it, you’re getting your money’s worth- it doesn’t really matter whether or not that game is available on some other platform as well. But then again, if you’re playing a game that can also be played on another – possibly much cheaper – console, a small part of you might feel like you ended up making a purchase that may not have been entirely necessary- at least right now.
Other than the likes of Returnal, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Demon’s Souls, and Deathloop, the PS5 doesn’t have any other major, significant releases that cannot be played on any other console- and even Deathloop can be played on a PC. Most of the other major releases – first party, third party, indie, what have you – can be played either on the Xbox Series X/S or on a last-gen console, and thanks to the Series S, both of those are cheaper alternatives. And with all three of Sony’s next major upcoming first party exclusives – Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West, and God of War: Ragnarok – being announced as cross-gen games, it looks like things are going to continue in this vein for a while. We do have some big PS5 exclusives coming up in 2022 with the likes of Forspoken, GhostWire: Tokyo, and Final Fantasy 16 (though two of those are also on PC, and one isn’t officially confirmed for 2022), but Sony probably won’t be going all-in with complete PS5 exclusives until 2023.
Of course, when you do purchase a console, you’re thinking of it as a long-term purchase- and the PS5 looks set to have a solid future right now where upcoming games are concerned. 2022 itself is looking packed, and in addition to several games that I’ve already mentioned previously, others like Elden Ring, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Gotham Knights, Hogwarts Legacy, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, Saints Row, The Callisto Protocol, Dying Light 2, and many others are set to launch next year.
Sony’s first party lineup is also looking healthy. There are currently 25 PlayStation Studios games in productions, almost half of which are new IPs. This includes the likes of Marvel’s Wolverine, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Remake, which isn’t a first party game, but will be a PS5 console exclusive. There are also other games that are strongly rumoured but remain officially unannounced, like The Last of Us’ remake, the multiplayer The Last of Us game, a Twisted Metal revival, and more. With partnerships with various newly formed AAA indie studios like Haven, Firewalk, and Deviation, acquisitions of studios like Housemarque, Firesprite, Nixxes, and Bluepoint, and Sony’s claims that it’s going to keep acquiring studios, it seems clear that the production pipeline for the PS5 is going to be a packed one.
At this point, we’ve all come to terms with the fact that several major upcoming games are going to get delayed – that’s just the reality of the industry right now – and even in its first year, the PS5’s lineup was certainly hurt noticeably when Horizon Forbidden West couldn’t launch in Holiday 2021 the way Sony had originally intended. But looking at that slate of upcoming games, it’s hard not to get excited about the future of the console.
Of course, the PS5’s hardware also has to be discussed when you ask the question whether the console has justified its price of entry in its first year. On the hardware front, there’s not much to complain about. the PS5 is a powerful piece of machinery – significantly more so than the PS4 was for its time when it came out – and already, it has enabled games to look and run noticeably better. Results have already been impressive for games that are almost all cross-gen, which leads to the question of how much better things could get once developers are focused entirely on new-gen hardware and don’t have to worry about optimizing for the significantly weaker last-gen consoles as well.
The SSD has been an excellent tool- though we probably won’t be seeing how it impacts actual game design in a tangible way for at least a couple of years, if not more, the plain and simple fact that loading times are now significantly shorter has been such a huge point in the console’s favour. Improved frame rates and resolutions have also not gone unnoticed, and the fact that we’re now finally getting ray-tracing in console games on a semi-regular basis is very encouraging indeed. Hopefully the implementation will get better, but it’s certainly been a solid start. The DualSense, too, has made a pretty good impression in its first year. Already, there are a few games out there that have been really creative with their use of the controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback, and I’m hoping to see a lot more of that in the months and years ahead.
Of course, judging a console based on its first year is hardly the ideal way to go about things – there’s just so much that’s to come that we can’t possibly predict yet – but even based on its first twelve months and what we know for sure is coming in the next couple of years, it’s clear that things are looking solid for the PS5.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.