OPINION: It’s been two and a half years since the PS5 launched. With PlayStation taking great pride in the number of high-quality first-party games it delivers, you’d expect the PS5 library to be packed to the brim with gems at this stage – but that isn’t the case.
So far, the only high profile PS5 exclusives, which haven’t also been available on the PS4, include Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Demon’s Souls – the latter of which is a remake.
There have been other excellent PlayStation exclusives that have launched on both PS4 and PS5, such as Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarok and Gran Turismo 7. But making these games compatible on PS4 has undoubtedly held back their technical potential.
For Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac was able to create seamless transitions when hopping between universes thanks to the super-speedy SSD inside the PS5. This wouldn’t be possible if the game was also made available on the PS4. Returnal also shows how good games can look when developers don’t need to worry about ensuring compatibility for the PS4’s ageing hardware.
With Sony’s obsession with ensuring its PS4 user base isn’t left behind, I’m worried that it’s wasting the cutting-edge hardware of the PS5. As someone who purchased a PS5 on launch day, that makes me feel like I’m getting very little return on my $499.99/£449.99 investment – I may as well have stuck with the cheaper PS4 Pro instead.
Many people will likely point out that the PS5 is still in its infancy. We’re approaching the three year mark, so we’re not even halfway through a typical console cycle just yet. So I was willing to give Sony the benefit of the doubt, with the hope that more major first-party games were right around the corner. But the recent PlayStation Showcase hasn’t addressed my concerns.
The only high-profile PS5 exclusive was Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which does admittedly look very good. Helldivers 2 and new PvP multiplayer called Concord (both of which are coming to PS5 and PC) piqued my interest, but they hardly look like the kind of games that would justify the purchase of a PS5. As a result, the PlayStation calendar is starting to look very bleak, and I’m starting to worry that there won’t be any major exclusives to look forward to in 2024.
The good news is that there seems to be plenty of promising third-party games on the horizon. Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Dragon’s Dogma 2, Final Fantasy XVI, a Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater remake and Bungie’s next project will all ensure there will still be plenty of games to buy on the PS5 in the near future, but these titles will also be available on Xbox Series X.
It’s worth pointing out that Xbox is struggling with the output of exclusive games too. Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 are both great games, but they’re also available on older hardware and so are hardly technical showpieces. While recent launches such as Redfall have failed to meet expectations.
But following high-profile acquisitions, Xbox arguably has a brighter future. By owning ZeniMax Media, it’s highly likely that the next Elder Scrolls, Doom, Fallout, Prey and The Evil Within entries will be Xbox exclusives. And with the Activision Blizzard takeover in the balance, it’s possible that Xbox will be pumping out a lot more first-party games in the future.
Are exclusives really that important? I’d argue so, mainly because this was PlayStation’s greatest strength in previous generations and is likely the reason why the PS5 continues to outsell the Xbox Series X. PlayStation has set high expectations, and it’s important to meet them if it wants to sustain this level of success for the long term. Fail to deliver, and fans may think twice about remaining loyal to PlayStation come the next console generation.