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PlayStation fans weren’t expecting Sony’s dry PS5 lecture

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A case of mixed expectations

Mark Cerny presenting on the PS5 Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment via YouTube

Sony has been uncharacteristically mum about the PlayStation 5, so when the company announced a digital event hosted by lead system architect Mark Cerny, expectations from fans were high. The hope was that we’d get to see the hardware, the controllers, or perhaps some games. What we got was a very technical presentation which may have gone over the heads of an average fan.

For those following recent events closely, this shouldn’t be a surprise — the presentation was meant to replace a developer-facing talk at GDC, which was postponed this year.

“Unfortunately, we had to cancel the talk that we had planned for GDC,” said Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. But fans didn’t know that going in, so they weren’t prepared for the dry nature of Mark Cerny’s chat.

Cerny spent time talking about abstract things like GPU cache scrubbers and HDD seek reduction, which are absolutely important for a developer making software for the PS5, but may not turn player’s heads. Making things worse, the presentation looked strange thanks to an audience silhouette. Perhaps it was a green screen and folks were actually watching. But it appeared as if Sony was displaying a fake audience.

And so over 700,000 fans tuned in to something that, unfairly or not, didn’t meet expectations. The YouTube chat was nothing but a sea of displeasure.

To be fair to Sony, however, the lecture wasn’t devoid of information. We now know the PS5’s hardware specs, which in terms of raw numbers, appear to fall short of the Xbox Series X’s performance. You’ll be able to expand the PS5’s storage without proprietary drives. Cerny spoke highly of the PS5’s “3D audio” capabilities, which will reportedly make its aural experiences more realistic.

Cerny also assured people that Sony was trying its best to make the system quieter than the PS4, which could, at times, sound like a jet engine. Plus, some of the PS5’s aims, like better loading times, are certainly noteworthy. Fans should also be relieved to hear that the PS5 will be able to run most of the PS4’s top games at launch.

But the fact is, folks want to see the merchandise. They want to see games in action. This isn’t gelling with Sony’s approach right now, where the company is taking its time on rolling out new PS5 information, whether that’s hardware architecture or an extremely familiar logo.