Three years ago, Sony launched the PlayStation 5, and expectations for the lifecycle the console would have were monumentally high. Of course, expectations are always high for any new PlayStation console, but considering the back that the PS5 was coming in on the heels of the PS4 – which is easily one of the greatest consoles of all time, thanks to its stellar library – those expectations were even higher than they would be under ordinary circumstances. There is, of course, still a ways to go before we’re done with the PS5. If it has a similar lifecycle to that of its predecessor, we’re less than halfway through the PS5 era right now. But even at this point, with the console having three years under its belt, it’s hard to look back and not be impressed with what we’ve seen up to this point.
We’ll start, of course, with the library, because that’s the thing that makes or breaks a console, and in three years, the PS5 has already built up an impressive lineup of games, even if that does come with some caveats (which we’ll get to in a bit). Where first party games are concerned, the PS5 started off strong with games like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Astro’s Playroom, and Demon’s Souls upon its release, in 2021, the console delivered more acclaimed releases like Returnal and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. 2022 was an even stronger year, bringing the trio of Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and God of War Ragnarok, and though 2023 has been a lighter year in terms of first party releases, we have seen the launch of the excellent Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
And of course, there’s been no shortage of excellent third party games to dive into either- Elden Ring, Baldur’s Gate 3, RE4 Remake, It Takes Two, Sifu, Deathloop, Dead Space, Street Fighter 6, Alan Wake 2… and that’s just scratching the surface. From the day it released right up to this point, the PS5 has enjoyed a steady stream of major releases that have rightly drawn praise from all corners, with many turning out to be legitimate all-time greats. It’s helped, of course, that 2023 has been a particularly spectacular year, to the extent that it may go down as one of the biggest and best releases in gaming history for game releases.
But there’s that caveat we mentioned earlier, and it’s one that’s been brought up quite often for not just the PS5, but the entire console generation as a whole- and that’s that we haven’t seen a great many games properly leveraging the more powerful hardware that’s now available to developers. Over the course of the past three years, the vast majority of major releases from big and small developers alike have been cross-gen titles. Only a handful of notable games (most of which have released in the last year) have been exclusive to current-gen hardware, which means that three years into the PS5’s life, we’re only just beginning to see games that aren’t being held back by significantly less powerful hardware.
At the end of the day, does that take away from the strength of the PS5’s library? Probably not. If you’re a PS5 owner, you probably don’t care that the many games you’ve enjoyed on the console in the early years of its life are also playable on last-gen hardware. Even so, the hope is that cross-gen releases will become much less common as we move forward- something that, thankfully enough, does seem to be happening. After all, several major games that have released for PS5 this year – like Alan Wake 2, Dead Space, Baldur’s Gate 3, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Final Fantasy 16, and Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, to name just a few – did not release on PS4.
Clearly, then, in the area that matters most – its library of games – the PS5 has had a great start to life, to the extent that you could even argue its first three years have been better than those of the PS4 (though it’s worth noting that it was really in the back half of its lifecycle that the PS4 really came into its own). But what about the other stuff? Moving beyond its library of games, how has the PS5 fared in the first three years of its life?
One area where many have undoubtedly been disappointed is the monetization policies that Sony has adopted throughout the course of the generation until this point, which have grown increasingly controversial. Right out the gate, Sony’s decision to switch to a $70 price point for its releases was one that was met with widespread discontent, and it continues to be a sticking point for many even now. And it’s not just Sony, of course- a number of major publishers like Take-Two Interactive, Activision, Square Enix, and others have also started selling their titles for $70, which means the majority of PS5’s games have been costlier than the standard $60 the industry had settled on previously.
Back to Sony though, selling games for higher prices isn’t the only questionable pricing decision it has made. The PS5 already launched at pretty steep price points for both of its models in late 2020, but in August of 2022, Sony announced price increases in a number of regions, including Europe, UK, Japan, and Canada (and the recently released PS5 Slim model is going to be even costlier in Japan). Meanwhile, recently, the company also implemented higher prices for 12-month subscriptions of all PlayStation Plus tiers, increasing them by $20 for Essential, $35 for Extra, and $40 for Premium. To say that those decisions haven’t gone down well with the masses would be an understatement.
Conversely, however, an area where Sony has largely impressed is the accessories it has put out for the PS5. From the Access controller to the DualSense Edge to the Pulse 3D headset to even the different faceplates you can purchase, the company has released a steady stream of accessories that legitimately add to the user experience in several ways. Yes, the pricing for some of the accessories has also raised some eyebrows – like with the DualSense Edge – while the jury is still out on the usefulness of some of the others – like the upcoming PlayStation Portal – but by and large, there’s been a healthy and varied selection of PS5 accessories available for users to check out.
Speaking of accessories though, we obviously have to talk about PS VR2- even though there hasn’t been much to talk about… which is exactly the problem, of course. There’s plenty to love about the PlayStation VR2, thanks primarily to the massive improvements it has made to its hardware, tech, and controllers as compared to its predecessor, but there are just as many caveats. For starters, there’s the exorbitant price (yet again), which has turned away a great many potential purchasers, but even worse is the support the device has received in the early months of its life. The one thing that may have convinced people to overlook its high price and purchase the PS VR2 regardless would have been a strong library, but since its launch in February this year, the device’s lackluster library has seen next to no major releases. The most notable title in the PS VR2’s catalog is still Horizon Call of the Mountain, a game that it launched with, and it’s fair to say that it’s not good enough to be a system seller by any means. We’re hoping that the months and years to come will be much stronger for the PS VR2, but everything in the here and now seems to be pointing to the fact that it has been sent out to die, much like the PS Vita was back in its day (but somehow to even worse results).
Ultimately, however, though there are certainly areas where there’s room for improvement for the PS5 and for Sony, by and large, the console has had a great first three years of its life. The thing that matters most for any console is its library of games – a great library can make users overlook even some pretty significant issues in other areas – and there’s no doubt whatsoever that on that front, the PS5 has been firing on all cylinders. And given how impressive these first three years have been, we can’t help but be incredibly excited about what lies ahead.
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.