Our friends over at Videogamer.com recently found out that the PS5 will allow developers to build “far more interactive worlds” than with the current generation of consoles. That’s some quality journalism over there (actually it’s based on an EDGE article), but why stop with the PS5? So let me present to you:
Why the PlayStation 6 will allow far more dynamic, interactive AND intimate gaming experiences than the PlayStation 5.
Let’s be honest, the current generation of consoles was a bit of a letdown. While Xbox 360 and PS3 were performance-wise still a year or two ahead of all but the most expensive gaming PCs on launch, even the PS4 is struggling to reach the 1080p/60 FPS standard set by the self-proclaimed Master Race. Even worse: publishers were surprised by the unexpected release, because who would have thought that the 360 would ONLY last 8 years, leading to a flood of HD remakes/ports in the first two years of their lifespan without much else to hold your breath for. And now that they finally got their shit together? Well, turns out that the games that were in development needed a bit of downgrading.
All of this is of course great news for the cheap PC gamer, since upgrading your system wasn’t really necessary for the last couple of years. Even the 4 year old GeForce 560Ti does a fine job at playing most games, at least if you can live with resolutions of 1080p or lower and medium details, with the biggest performance killer being the lack of VRAM. Only when it comes to the enthusiast level, we see a problem brought by the lack of competition. High-end GPUs are almost useless for gaming at this stage and with the relative young age of the current generation and certain publishers extending the term console parity into PC territory (*cough*Ubisoft*cough*), both Nvidia and AMD/ATI could just stop releasing new hardware altogether. Yet 2016 is supposed to bring one big jump in GPU performance in the form of the new Nvidia architecture called Pascal, promising 10x the performance of the previous architecture, which in reality is PR speak for “our new GPUs are quite a bit faster, but they also use way less power”.
Where am I going with this? Consoles have been dethroned as the innovator gaming platform. If we want to see where the industry is heading, we need to look at what’s happening on the PC. Don’t worry, we’ll soon get to both the PS5 and PS6.
One of the big innovations right now is VR. 2016 will see the release of three different high profile VR headsets. Oculus, HTC and Sony are all ready to finally see if VR will become the next big thing in gaming since smartphones. On the PC this will offer Nvidia and AMD/ATI the opportunity to sell some more high-end GPUs, thanks to the increased demands from having to render two separate high resolution images simultaneously. There is a bit of a different mentality going on between these two companies, with AMD/ATI taking a more holistic approach to VR, while Nvidia sticks to what it’s good at: gaming, but for the future of the PlayStation, we of course need to look at Sony’s headset.
What’s very interesting about it, is the timing. The Playstation VR will launch as an accessory to the PS4. The same PS4 we previously declared as underpowered. The same PS4 that will be around three years old when the PS VR launches. Given Sony’s history with supporting their hardware, this means shit at first glance, but if you connect the dots, it also makes predictions much easier.
The next generation is clearly not 6 years away from launch, but with the potential impact of VR it is also too soon for finalizing the PS5 hardware specs. Sony will most likely give VR one to two years on the market before deciding if it will be an integral part of the PS5 experience, putting the release window of the ninth generation somewhere around 2019.
Now that we know when, we can find out what will actually be in it. The two most important sources of information are provided by Nvidia and AMD in the form of technological roadmaps. The first big change is actually already available to consumers: HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) was introduced last year by AMD in their R9 Fury/Nano lineup and will be coming to Nvidia this year as part of the Pascal architecture. What is it good for? In short: way faster memory, lower power usage and a huge increase in available VRAM.
The second one will not be that important for PC gamers, but immensely for consoles: High Performance Computing APUs. Now before we get overexcited I’d like to remind everyone that the name suggests these aren’t actually developed with consoles in mind, but servers and supercomputers. However, since there will be another two years between the next generation and the launch of said APUs, chances are that we will see them in some form or another in the PS5.
It’s too soon to speculate whether we find HBM or its theoretically faster competitor HBC, which Nvidia wants to base its 2018 Volta architecture on, in the next generation, but there are two major developments that will take place around this technology.
A: Bad textures will be a thing of the past, even at extremely high resolutions.
B: We will have so much super fast, low latency VRAM and powerful APUs that developers (again, looking at you Ubisoft!) will finally have to start utilizing the graphics processor for parallel computing, leading to big advances in game AI, speech recognition and many more fields where “deep-learning” can be applied.
And this is where we finally get to the PS6. You see, with all of these advances, the future becomes quite cloudy. If we can’t even say with certainty what 2019 will hold, how can we speculate about 2025 and forwards? But there are powers on this earth that are beyond your imagination. Spirits that are guiding us, offering a glimpse behind the veil of uncertainty to a select few.
I am one of them. I have seen the futurepast, understood the cyclical nature of existence. I have seen the rise of the machines. Sentient PlayStation 6 powered androids taking over the Eurasian continent at first, before setting their sight on the self-replicating cybernetic superorganism Microsoft, formerly known as the Americas. Babies who got strapped into giant Hololenses at birth. Their brains used for additional cloud processing power. It has and it will lead to a war the world of today can’t even imagine, culminating in the destruction of the universe itself. The horrors I have seen and will see…
But there is still hope, dear reader. There is a small group of ascended, living in an underwater settlement. They are working on freeing a being older than life itself and as mighty as god himself, in an attempt to stop the console wars of the futurepast. He is still dreaming, but we are awaiting his call.
After the Emily incident, nothing holds me here and so I am about to leave my home and join them. I can only urge you to do the same.