Yes, the design matters but a console is defined by its games library.
There’s been a lot of criticisms thrown at Sony over the last few years. Some of them I agree with and some of them I don’t, but most of them I can at least understand. Whether it’s Sony’s reluctance to allow cross-platform multiplayer on multi-platform games, or censoring certain aspects of games to a level that can sometimes feel petty and unnecessary, I at least get the criticisms. Usually. But what I don’t really get is the hate that they’re getting for the design of the upcoming hardware powerhouse, the Playstation 5.
As with most big developments with video games, the reveal of the PS5 went through the usual cycle of everybody voicing whether they like it or not, taking their side, explaining why they like it or why they don’t. Everybody imagined it sitting in their living room, bedroom, man cave or gaming dungeon and came up with their own mental image of what it looks like alongside their other electronics and their TV.
Some loved it, some liked it, some were indifferent and some made memes comparing it to wifi routers. But the group that befuddles me are the ones who just straight up hate it. It’s true that most things in gaming that get hate, are probably not really as hated as they appear to be, as negative opinions tend to be voiced more often than positive ones, but make no mistake there are plenty of people out there who hate the design of the Playstation 5 and will not mince words about it. But why? Is it the two-tone color scheme? Is it the white form factor? The large general size? Why do any of these things generate anything even remotely resembling hate?
Firstly, to anyone who has been around Playstation for longer than, say, one console generation, a somewhat wacky design for Playstation hardware is not exactly a new thing for sony. The weirdness of the PS5’s design isn’t really all that different if you look at the entirety of Sony’s hardware catalogue. Remember the PSone’s portable tv screen? Remember the original fat Ps3s that look like they came fell off of Darth Vader’s suit? Remember the boomerang controller? Should I even mention Playstation Move? Even the PS4’s trapezoid shape and the Dualshock 4 were thought of as fairly weird before everybody got used to them. The truth is, Sony has been taking risks with their hardware designs since day one. So if you’re honestly shocked by the design of the PS5, and truly hate it, you might have stumbled into the wrong gaming ecosystem.
While some things like the first PS3 slim and the PS2 were more understated, it’s also not really that strange for Sony to take a chance on weird looking hardware. While Microsoft tends to play things much safer with their console designs, they also never really take the risks that cool designs require you to take. Nintendo normally would be taking the most risks with their consoles and controllers, just take a look at the gamecube or the N64 to see that, but now that they’re playing things a little safer these days too, somebody’s gotta try the weird stuff, and if you’ve been paying attention to Sony for very long you shouldn’t be too surprised that they would be the ones to fill the void.
That said, there is some practicality to the PS5 design as well. While the contours themselves are up for debate I suppose, the color scheme actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. The vast majority of modern home entertainment centers are either black or white. As the single tone colors of Ikea furniture and things like it continue to be normalized more and more, the trend of these sorts of living room and bedroom color schemes will only be more and more standard.
As such, regardless of yours being black or white, the PS5 will match it fine while also standing out a bit. If your entertainment center is mostly black, then PS5 will fit in nicely as it’s accented with the white shell. If your entertainment center is mostly white, The PS5 will blend well but have a little pop with it’s black center.
Either way you’re good to go. This is of course assuming single tone versions of the console aren’t made available someday, which they probably will be anyway. And whatever your entertainment center looks like, you can’t deny coolness that will radiate from the system when you are playing in the dark for the first time and see that double-sided blue glow from the front of the console as it turns the room slightly blue like you’re inside an aquarium or something. Also, if you are a PSVR adopter, you’ll be glad to know that the PS5 will match that headset perfectly, and it’s probably fair to assume that whatever next version of the VR headset Sony comes up with will as well.
There are some concerns with the design that I feel might warrant some mentioning though, and this may be a good time to address a concern that has floated around lately, which is certainly mostly Sony’s fault, and that is whether or not the PS5 can be laid on its side. The answer to that is a definitive yes. So if you don’t have a space for this giant keeper of gaming to stand straight up, you can rest easy knowing that, just like most of the previous Playstation consoles before it, the PS5 can indeed lay flat on it’s side. As you might imagine, the curved nature of the PS5 shell doesn’t seem to lend itself to a horizontal plane, but that is where the optional stand comes in that allows this to happen just fine.
Sony has not confirmed whether or not the stand comes with the console, but if I were a betting man I’d wager it is. So if that is one of your main concerns with the console, we can go ahead and cross that off the list. There are some legitimate concerns with the console that are worth mentioning though. The little corners on the top certainly come to mind. While I’m sure Sony has an economical method in place for shipping these things around without breaking these off, I do worry about what will happen with the pre-owned market.
Will we see a huge number of these corners get broken off as they get traded into various games stores and sold back out? We would all like to think we take really good care of our things, but accidents do happen. On top of that, all the ridges around the center of the box between the black center and the white exterior do seem like they have the potential to be dust factories. Will this be tough to keep clean? Or will the fans of the console deal with that themselves? These are legit concerns, but only time will give us real answers on them. And still don’t quite deserve the moniker of “hate” being thrown around them in my opinion.
Which brings me to my last point. Above all else, it’s important to remember something that I think lots of gamers easily forget about; we’re talking about video games here. Nothing that really affects our lives in any major way. For a very small portion of us, gaming is part of our career, yes, but the vast majority of gamers simply engage with it as a hobby and a past-time. While this certainly doesn’t mean everybody isn’t entitled to an opinion, using the word “hate” for the design of a box that plays games is a pretty intense way to evaluate something so innocuous and ultimately insignificant.
There are plenty of worse things in the world that are far more deserving of actual hate and scorn than anything a videogame company could ever decide to do, let alone how they decide to design the exterior of their consoles. Some consoles look cool, some look dumb, and some are the Atari Jaguar, but no matter what, they’re all just video game consoles. Talking about console designs is just for fun. It’s not supposed to cause anybody any stress or anxiety one way or the other.
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.