OPINION: Today, I woke up to the unpleasant news that Sony will be increasing the cost of the PS5 to £479.99/ €449.99 in the UK, Europe and many other regions.
A price increase is never welcome, but at least it’s a little understandable for products that previously already offered fantastic value – the PS5 does not fall into that category.
Despite its strong sales, I’ve been disappointed with Sony’s latest console so far, especially considering how much I paid for it. I would even go a step far and say this is the worst console I’ve ever purchased.
It is admittedly early days for the PS5, but it’s also no spring chicken. Come November, it will have been 2 years since the console first hit stores. And yet, there have been very few games that have taken advantage of the console’s impressive hardware.
The likes of Horizon Forbidden West, Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Gran Turismo 7 are all fantastic games, but they’re also available on the older PS4 console. And while you do get a 4K graphics boost, speedier loading times and the option to run games at a faster refresh rate, I personally don’t think these minor upgrades have merited a £450 investment.
I remember getting the Xbox 360 and gawping at the graphics in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Call of Duty 2. The PS5 has failed to have the same effect on me, and yet that hasn’t been reflected in the price.
The only PS5 games I’ve played that have felt like a new-gen experience are Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and Astro’s Playroom and even that feels more like a tech demo. The former made great use of the SSD drive for seamless transitions between universes, while Astro did a superb job of showing off the haptic feedback technology in the DualSense controller.
And while I’m yet to play Returnal, my colleague tells me that it looks fantastic and used the adaptive triggers to great effect, ensuring each alien weapon feels unique. But there simply haven’t been enough games in this vein that have taken advantage of the PS5’s hardware.
The future isn’t looking brighter either. The only PS5 exclusive coming out later this year is The Last of Us Part I, which is a remake of a game that launched just nine years ago. After that, the only Sony-made PS5 exclusives I can think of are Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine, but neither of those have a release date just yet.
There are a few third-party games on the horizon that will be exclusive to new-gen consoles, such as Gotham Knights, Final Fantasy XVI (a timed exclusive) and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. But I’d argue you’re better off buying an Xbox to play those games.
The Xbox Series X is suffering similar issues to the PS5, with exclusives such as Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Gears 5 restricted by their availability on older platforms. They’re all great experiences, but hardly the new-gen upgrades we were promised.
But the future’s looking more positive for the Xbox Series X, with upcoming exclusives such as Starfield and Redfall both set for a 2023 release, while the next Elder Scrolls, Fable and Forza Motorsport are also in development.
It’s also impossible not to mention the incredible value provided by Xbox Game Pass. For just £7.99 per month, you can access a huge library of games to play, including any title developed by Xbox Game Studios from day one of release.
Sony has gone in the opposite direction with the PS5. The likes of Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turimso 7 were priced at a whopping £69.99 at launch, and that pricing will continue with the Last of Us Part I. It will take a nine-month subscription of Game Pass (which offers over 300 games) to reach the total cost of a single blockbuster PS5 game. That’s ridiculous.
It’s only fair to say that Sony also offers PlayStation Plus Premium, a similar subscription to Game Pass with its own collection of games. But Sony has confirmed it won’t be offering the latest exclusive games, such as Horizon Forbidden West, at launch. This means it’s only really useful for playing legacy games from the likes of the PS4, PS3 and PS2.
I understand that many die-hard gamers are faithful to brands such as PlayStation, but if you were to look from a neutral point of view, it’s difficult to argue that the PS5 has been a success so far.
There’s plenty of time to correct that. The PS3 finished strongly with The Last of Us, while the PS4 only entered its stride once the likes of Uncharted 4 and Horizon Zero Dawn hit stores. The pandemic has delayed the production of multiple games, both for the PS5 and other consoles, so it’s understandable why the PS5 has been a little slow off the mark compared to its predecessors.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel as if I’ve got good value for money by purchasing the PS5. Part of me wishes I had just stuck with the PS4 a little longer, and then opted for an Xbox Series S instead, as it would have saved me a lot of money.
And with the PS5 now becoming even more expensive and a drought of exclusive games on the horizon, it’s difficult to recommend a purchase right now. If Sony doesn’t act soon, the PS5 could be become PlayStation’s greatest flop yet.