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Major Problems PS5 Needs To Fix

Sony didn't have a lot of competition during the past console generation. The PlayStation 4 started hot out of the gate and built a huge advantage rather quickly. The Xbox One couldn't keep up, and the Nintendo Switch — which came out years after the PS4 — didn't have enough time to mount a formidable challenge. Sony won the generation. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

The next console generation looms on the horizon. The PlayStation 5 is set to arrive sometime in the 2020 holiday season. The Xbox Series X — Microsoft's competing machine — will launch in the same window. Though Sony won the last round, the new cycle raises a wealth of questions: Will Sony retain its title? What can the company do to ensure the PlayStation 5 is just as successful as the PlayStation 4?

Here are a few major problems Sony needs to address if it hopes to win once more with the PS5. If the company can hit these key areas, you will likely see yet another generation dominated by a PlayStation console.

Bring the power

All the stars aligned for the PlayStation 4 in 2013, and back then, that spelled doom for the Xbox One. Microsoft's console came stumbling into the market at a higher price point. Even worse: the Xbox One also managed to pack in less power than than PS4. When the mid-generation upgrades came along, Microsoft made up some ground, as the Xbox One X offered better performance than the PS4 Pro. But Sony's lead at that point was just too overwhelming. The PS4 was uncatchable.

Winning one console battle doesn't necessarily win you the war. Sony really needs to show up with a beast of a PlayStation 5 if it wants to keep Microsoft in second place.

Microsoft will no doubt storm the holiday season in late 2020 with an ultra-powerful machine. In fact, the company has confidently shown off its new console for most of 2020. Sony has been a bit more shy when it comes to the PS5, and that's only given Xbox fans room to claim victory prematurely. If Sony wants to silence its critics, it needs to show the world the PlayStation 5 can go toe-to-toe with Microsoft's new system. It also needs to show off what the PlayStation 5 does better than the Xbox One X.

The next generation will hinge on what Sony brings to the table.

Give away more games

Believe it or not, the whole "free game" phenomenon players benefit from today was actually started by Sony in the PlayStation 3 era. Back then, the company started giving away free titles with a PlayStation Plus subscription. This move forced Microsoft to follow suit with Xbox Live's Games with Gold program, and when the PS4 and Xbox One arrived, the free games kept on coming.

Along the way, unfortunately, the PlayStation Plus offering lost a whole lot of its value. This is something Sony needs to rectify when the PlayStation 5 launches. When Sony chopped PS3 and Vita games out of PlayStation Plus in 2019, it essentially made the subscription half as useful. Sony was giving away at least four games a month prior to that shift. Afterward, that number permanently dropped to two, and Sony's paying customers definitely noticed.

If Sony wants to make things right with PlayStation Plus subscribers — and at least match Microsoft's four free games per month — it needs to expand the number of freebies it hands out. Whether that means giving away four PlayStation 4 games after the PS5 launch, or tossing some new PS5 titles into the mix, it's something that really, really should happen. Otherwise, Sony will allow another box to be checked in the Xbox Series X column.

Take PlayStation Now to the next level

In the ever-expanding lineup of Sony's products and services, PlayStation Now remains one of the bigger question marks. The service started as a way for Sony to offer backward compatibility via streaming. Over time, it morphed into a Game Pass-like catalog subscribers could use to download select PS4 titles.

In terms of a streaming-only future, PlayStation Now is something Sony could surely lean on to stay one or two steps ahead of the competition. But streaming isn't exactly ready for prime time, which means Sony really needs to make PlayStation Now attractive to customers, well, now. And how can it do that? By embracing those Game Pass-like elements and going even harder in that direction.

Sony doesn't need to drop new exclusives into PlayStation Now on day one — and it's highly unlikely the company would want to. But it can make the service a repository for all PS4 and PS5 exclusives that have been out a certain amount of time. Why not add Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War to PlayStation Now permanently? Why not add games like The Last of Us Part 2 after a year? Or two years?

If Sony made a move like this, you can be fairly certain PlayStation Now would have a lot more subscribers.

Talk about PSVR, for crying out loud

By all accounts, PlayStation VR was a massive success for Sony. The headset itself sold several million units, and Sony's willingness to embrace the technology helped it stake a claim in the wider virtual reality market. Based on that, you might assume the PlayStation 5 would lean heavily into VR to ensure Sony remains competitive in the space.

Unfortunately, after a year or two of reasonable support, Sony's gone somewhat quiet on PlayStation VR. First-party development for the platform has trailed off in the lead-up to the PlayStation 5 and Sony hasn't said much about VR at all with regard to its upcoming next-gen console. That is deeply concerning.

Sony has a huge advantage over Microsoft in the VR space at this moment in time. The latter isn't really making a VR play at all, which means if Sony focused heavily on PlayStation VR for the PS5, it would have something to offer Microsoft couldn't match. For some strange reason, Sony is fumbling this opportunity.

Sony needs to make sure PlayStation VR returns in a big way when the PS5 launches in Holiday 2020. Otherwise, all the hard work that went into developing the PSVR platform and brand will have been for nothing.

Improve PlayStation Network

PlayStation Network has come a long way since its pretty terrible launch years ago. Remember when PSN would go down for seemingly no reason at all? Remember when hackers held the service hostage for weeks? Remember when you couldn't even change your PSN username? Yes, all of those were the reality at one point. But Sony put the work in and made PSN better. For that, it deserves some praise.

There are still problems with PSN, however, and one of those major issues has to do with the network's download speeds. For some reason, Sony hasn't quite been able to boost downloads on PSN, and that has the kind of impact you might expect: players aren't able to download games as quickly as they'd like. Those hoping to both buy and play a game in the same evening often find they're not able to do so with larger titles. Those setting up a new PS4 find it takes entirely too long to re-download their libraries.

Slow download speeds have been a complaint among PS4 owners for several years now, and Sony hasn't done much to address that particular criticism. If the company hopes to give PS5 customers a good experience — especially since next-gen games will undoubtedly be larger — someone at Sony really needs to figure out why downloads move at a snail's pace.

Show why the touchpad matters

When it comes to innovative new gaming technologies, Sony has a reputation of bailing on them a little too quickly. There was that PlayStation 3D display, which the company was all too happy to put in the past. PlayStation Home was a neat experiment, but another that Sony left in the dust. And then there's the PlayStation Vita — yeah, some fans are still smarting over that one.

You'd be forgiven for believing, then, that Sony would probably omit the touchpad on its new PlayStation 5 controller. The touchpad wasn't utilized all that much on the DualShock 4, and basically became a giant "map" button for developers of all stripes. That won't be the case, though. The touchpad is returning on the PS5's new DualSense gamepad, which is why it's crucial for Sony to prove its worth and actually use the thing.

Third-party developers often take cues from platform holders and work to implement new features if said platform holder shows them how it's done. Why didn't this happen in the PS4 generation with the touchpad? That's a great question. Sony all but forgot about the touchpad, which makes it tough to blame everyone else for doing so.

The touchpad is another unique bit of PlayStation tech Sony has to offer with the PS5. If it can properly implement its use into games — and encourage other developers to do so — the PlayStation 5 will have yet another leg up on the Xbox Series X.

Nail the PS5's design

The PlayStation 4's design really turned heads when it was first unveiled. Those sharp angles. That sleek, black color. Sony built a really cool-looking machine — the kind you'd be proud to put in your entertainment center. Sony made its name in the world of electronics, so perhaps it's not a surprise the company would put out an attractive video game console. It did come as a surprise, though, that Sony flubbed a few other design decisions in the process.

Think back to when you first unpacked your PlayStation 4. You probably got everything all plugged in and set up. You turned your TV on and made sure you were on the right input. At that point, you pressed the power button, right? Or maybe you pressed the eject button. The two buttons looked exactly the same, save for some tiny little icons that ants needed to squint at.

Then the PlayStation 4 Pro came out a few years later and Sony somehow decided the console would look just as sleek as the base PS4 if it got a little fatter. While the base PS4 looked like two slim panels stacked on top of one another, the PS4 Pro came out looking like the tech equivalent of a world record breaking hamburger. It was ugly.

The PlayStation 5 presents an opportunity to do something new and interesting with Sony's console design. Microsoft is certainly going for it with the Xbox Series X, which doesn't look like any console anyone's ever seen before. If Sony wants to stand out in the next gen, it needs to push design boundaries in that exact same way.

Explore smaller projects

You can really say Sony doesn't have a great lineup of exclusives. The Uncharted titles always knocked it out of the park. The Last of Us was equally as impressive. God of War is now back on the map as a huge PlayStation property. Horizon Zero Dawn is perhaps Sony's best new IP in quite some time.

It may seem like Sony is swimming in awesome video games. There's one big problem with the way Sony approaches exclusives, though, and big is an appropriate word, as this criticism has to do with size and scale. Simply put: Sony goes all-out with almost every exclusive. It doesn't have to.

Why doesn't Sony ever put out smaller games? Why don't you ever see Sony partner on projects that take less time to make and are less resource intensive? Tetris 99, for example, was a game Nintendo contracted out and basically gave away. It was a hit. Grounded is a promising title in the works from a team at Microsoft-owned ObsidianThat project got underway even though most of Obsidian was tasked with wrapping up Outer Worlds.

Sony doesn't have to completely drop the big budget games. They're often masterpieces, and those masterpieces require millions upon millions of dollars and years of development time. The company could keep fans satiated with some smaller content drops, though. It certainly wouldn't hurt.