12th November just gone marks two years since PlayStation 5’s release. Sony’s ninth generation console is arguably at its highpoint, with the just-released, generation-defining God of War Ragnarök receiving rapturous acclaim as a technical showpiece, the title now expected to spearhead a slew of high profile first-party exclusives coming in 2023. With the PlayStation 5 finally starting to fulfil its promise, the future looks bright following the system’s checquered launch.
Yes, Sony is looking to make PS5’s uneven launch a thing of the distant past, and sure, it hasn’t been plain sailing to get to this point; PS5’s supposed triumphant release was instead marred by unavailability, with scammers and scalpers swooping in to gobble up every morsel of the hard-to-come-by console before regurgitating back to honest consumers for exorbitant prices. To be clear, supply issues remain, with chip scarcity cited as the main culprit, although labour and logistic shortages are still impacting parts inventory and production. That said, Sony is expecting to significantly ramp up manufacture next year with a lofty ambition to ship and sell 30 million consoles between now and 2024.
So, despite the shortages, gamers are still managing to get their hands on the console. In fact, according to official Sony figures, as of July 2022 21.4 million consoles had been sold, with a further 3.3 million units confirmed as sold in financial year 2022’s second quarter, pushing the total number of PS5’s sold up to 25 million. Last year, sales peaked at a rate of almost 1000 units per minute in the US. Just this summer, Sony cited unprecedented demand in emerging markets, with the biggest appetite for PS5 seen in China. Record earnings, record net sales, and peak operating income paint a rosy picture for Sony’s shareholders, but financial figures heading upwards does at least indicate that the improved availability of the console will continue, and gamers yet to savour the technical prowess of the PS5 will finally be able to dive in, assuming they can afford it.
Yes, demand is at an all-time high despite the already expensive console receiving price increases in most major markets. The UK and Europe, countries in the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific countries including Australia, Latin America, and Canada – pretty much everywhere bar the US received an inflation-adjusted price increase this past August. It must certainly be bitter pill to swallow for many gamers who’re likely suffering through a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by adverse global economic events. Fresh PS5’s accessories slated for release early next year will do little to lift their spirits too. The impressive looking DualSense Edge promises a premium controller at a premium price tag. PSVR2 launches early next year too with base model retailing at the same price as a disc-drive equipped PS5.
Future accessories and add-ons aren’t the focus of this feature though – they’ll likely be analysed as part of a three-year PS5 retrospective. For now, there’s plenty of stuff available for players to customise their PS5 experience – console covers in cool, vibrant colours offering an eye-catching alternative to base unit’s stately white, for instance. We’re yet to see unique, special edition PS5s like we saw extensively with the PlayStation 4 but with the recently released grey camouflage collection and limited-edition God of War Ragnarök DualSense controller perhaps a run of special edition PS5 consoles, hardware, and accessories is on the horizon.
As a hardware-focused company, it’s no surprise Sony have taken a hardware-centric approach to PlayStation 5. By and large, if you want to play a PlayStation exclusive at launch, you’ll need a PlayStation console. PC releases are becoming increasingly commonplace, but it’s expected that, unlike Xbox which releases games to console and PC concurrently, Sony will continue to transfer games to PC after significant time has passed from its console release. What this means is Sony can nurture a peripheral eco-system, with Sony TV’s, monitors, and headsets pairing perfectly with the PS5 without any compatibility issues.
Of course, all this expensive hardware isn’t worth a penny without a decent library of games. It’s undeniable 2022 has been a more blockbuster year for PS5 games compared to 2021; building on the stellar foundation of games released last year – Returnal, and Deathloop notwithstanding – 2022 has delivered generation-defining titles from Sony’s first-party studios.
Horizon Forbidden West’s visual splendour is perhaps the best-looking game of the year. Aloy’s voyage through misty climbs and machine ravaged lands is always visually impressive, even when playing on performance mode whereby minor visual fidelity is sacrificed to keep the game running at 60fps. The Forbidden West is a meticulously crafted, verdant, detailed world, with exceptionally reflective water shining like crystals in the ochre dusk-lit hues of Pacific sunset; even in performance mode, the drop in detail is barely noticeable.
Iconic driving simulation Gran Turismo 7 ushered in a new generation of car enthusiasts with its ultra-realistic, laboriously detailed car designs, impressive real-time weather effects and silky-smooth wheel-to-wheel racing. The Last of Us Part I’s remake had many questioning its necessity, but another trip through zombie-ravaged USA in glorious high fidelity, with refined natural lighting and textures made for an experience more cerebral and immersive. Stray plunged a loveable feline companion deep inside a hazardous, living, breathing Kowloon-esque walled city, rendered in eye-popping ornate detail with neon-smoked volumetric lighting and screen reflections. Stray released to PC too, but the PS5 version was widely considered at launch to be the definitive version to play.
Of course, the crowning glory in PlayStation 5’s games library thus far is the just released God of War Ragnarök. A technical, visual, cinematic powerhouse, God of War Ragnarök is rightly garnering praise as a prestigious, console-defining title. It’s six graphics modes spread across PS5 all offer amazing fidelity and smooth action, but it’s the 1440p performance mode with unlocked 60fps, clocked at running up to 90fps, which is especially noteworthy considering the game masterfully runs on one seamless, uninterrupted camera shot.
2023 looks to be another bumper year for PlayStation exclusives too, with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and two Final Fantasy games in the shape of Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth looking to provide stellar highlights to an already impressive catalogue. Other games coming next year and beyond such as Silent Hill 2 and Rise of the Ronin are well worth marking the calendars for too.
Since the PS5’s launch, Sony have witnessed a rise in digital sales, with 63% of games purchased for PlayStation being purchased on digital storefronts in the past year. The exact number of games sold is somewhere north of 60 million, with a 10% increase in revenue seen for Sony’s gaming division. It’s perhaps surprising the recently revamped PS Plus service has been somewhat of a misstep then, given Sony’s success in digital game sales. Despite impressive sales, PS Plus is down 2 million subscribers year-on-year. More availability and choice are always a good thing, but it’s fair to say Sony’s top-tier premium PS Plus membership isn’t delivering on its promise yet.
Likewise, the newly introduced loyalty program PlayStation Stars is yet to hit the ground running. It’s early doors, of course, but the strange two-month waiting list for some users in the US and the proposed benefit of priority customer support failing to guarantee shorter waiting times when reaching out to PlayStation’s online chat are a handful of kinks that can easily be ironed out alongside the much-needed tweaks to PS Plus’s three tiers.
All in all, it’s been a positive few months for the PlayStation 5. There’s heaps of intrigue on next year – new peripherals, important games, and perhaps the fruits of Sony’s desire to move further into live service will begin to emerge, ensuring there’ll be plenty to talk about come PS5’s 3-year retrospective.
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.