The PS5 wants to the gaming equivalent of Netflix. Not in the sense of streaming games over the internet like Google Stadia (read our full Google Stadia review), but in terms of the ease and speed of using the popular video streaming service.
This is based on two recent pieces of news: one being a patent found on the USPTO's database detailing Sony's latest brainwave for improving user interface (UI) design, and the other being a ResetEra comment by Kotaku's Jason Schreier on how Sony is convincing developers to work on games for its new console.
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First, the Sony patent. Initially spotted by PlayStation Universe, the application for "Dynamic interfaces for launching direct gameplay" outlines a series of templates for a PlayStation's main menu. These templates could be filled with game-specific options by developers that would allow players to skip into specific parts of the game instead of just booting up the game menu or resuming from the last point they were at.
For example, a single-player game could let you replay a certain chapter of the campaign, or let you see what current quests you have open and their potential rewards. For multiplayer games, this could be used to select a specific game type, or watch a match replay without fumbling through menus.
Schreier's short comment on gaming-centric forum ResetEra tells us that Sony is trying to sell game devs on the PS5 with comparisons to Netflix.
"One of the pitches they’ve been making to developers is 'playing a PS5 game should be as easy as Netflix,'" wrote Schreier in his post.
"They want to make players feel like they can load up the game immediately and know exactly how much time a given activity is going to take them. They want people to feel more inclined to play in short bursts rather than only wanting to turn on the console when they have a few hours to spare."
Taken together (assuming that the patent will be implemented on the PS5 and not a later console), these two pieces of information point to the new Sony console encouraging a new way to play games. It looks as if PlayStation is aiming instead to get people to "snack" on their games rather than binge, playing the exact part they want to and then swapping to another section via these menu templates.
Given that we know the PS5 won't be able to keep up with the Xbox Series X on a pure hardware power level, it'll be ideas like this that could help the PS5 keep PlayStation's dominance of the market. Prettier ray-traced graphics are all good, but cracking open a game into parts you can easily choose between could be far more useful to the majority of players.