Microsoft has landed the first blow in this key reveal phase for both the Xbox Series X and the PS5. The Xbox Series X was already ahead, thanks to earlier announcements going back to the end of 2019. But we hear from the rumor mill that Sony will soon show us some details about the PS5, too.
The Xbox Series X gameplay reveal event was certainly fun to watch, with its back-to-back world premieres and developer chats, but it wasn't perfect. So here's a short manifesto for what the PS5 reveal events need to match, or even surpass, Microsoft's announcement.
- PS5 release date, price, specs, games and more
- Xbox Series X release date, price, pre-order, controller and more
1. Show us the console!
In a surprising move, Microsoft showed us the Xbox Series X's physical design the moment it announced the console. But since then, we've seen nothing of the PS5, while we've had time to dissect the Series X's design, for both analysis and mockery. There was even a joke during the presentation about how it looks a bit like a fridge (Icebox Series X?), demonstrating that the memes have been around for so long they've travelled full circle back to the source.
It's been interesting to see many talented artists show the world their takes on how the PS5 would look, and Sony's teasing the DualSense controller by itself was a neat move. But it's high time for Sony to whip the covers off of the console itself. Come on, Sony: It's been long enough.
2. Let the developers speak
One of the best parts of the Xbox event was the last section, in which developers from The Medium, Dirt 5 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla discussed how the Xbox Series X's hardware had helped them realize their visions. These segments also gave us some insight into the design processes of these games, in general.
While showing off AC: Valhalla is quite a big feather in Microsoft's cap, there are still plenty of other high-profile next-gen releases that Sony could call on. Imagine the excitement if it managed to secure interviews with CD Projekt Red about Cyberpunk 2077, or got Daedalic Entertainment to drop in to talk about Lord of the Rings: Gollum. The names alone would attract viewers, and the discussion could both tell us some interesting facts about the game, and act as a subtle form of advertising.
3. Show off its first-party titles first
At the start of its May 7 reveal, Xbox announced that the developers under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella would discuss their games in July. This includes some of the hottest properties and most popular developers around, such as Halo Infinite devs 343 Industries, RPG masters Obsidian and the offbeat adventure game makers Double Fine. But that July event is over a month away, at best.
Sony could easily get some announcements from Naughty Dog (The Last of Us, Uncharted), Guerrilla Games (Horizon: Zero Dawn, Killzone), Insomniac Games (Marvel's Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank) and Santa Monica Studio (God of War). These big franchises are a big part of what could convince gamers to upgrade their consoles, so Sony may as well get the news out there as fast as possible.
4. Show indie games some love
On a similar note, one of the major things missing from Xbox's reveal for me was indie games. Except for the one-developer project Bright Memory Infinite, we didn't see any small-scale projects from smaller teams of people. Given Microsoft's focus on graphical power for the Series X, it makes sense that it would lean into titles with the highest graphical fidelity.
PlayStation however, has been falling behind Microsoft and even Nintendo when it comes to being an indie-friendly platform. Sony could turn that impression around, perhaps just compiling many indie games into one short segment, if it wants to focus specifically on visually spectacular titles.
5. Live gameplay, not just cutscenes
Despite claiming it would show off gameplay, the Xbox Series X reveal, at best, showed us some in-engine footage, not actual missions like we'd see during an E3 demonstration. Obviously, the fact that these announcements are not taking place on a live stage makes running events more difficult, but live gameplay demos shouldn't be impossible.
Even if it's just for one game, some live gameplay would really help liven up a Sony presentation. It would also be the perfect opportunity to talk about the capabilities of the DualSense controller.
6. Don't give us another lecture
I, like every loyal PlayStation fan, stan Mark Cerny. He's clearly a great designer from his work on the PS4, and he seems like a lovely guy. But the last thing we need right now is another hour-long talk from him about console architecture. The Road to PS5 event that Sony held back in March was interesting, but didn't get many people hyped up about the console.
Maybe Sony could reveal that highly technical information at the same time in a different format, but what the PS5 really needs right now is some nice, simple messaging about why it's going to be the console to get come Holiday 2020.