Sony Unveils Details of "Game Changer" Next-Generation Console

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The video game company pulled back the curtain on its upcoming, long-rumored system.

Sony has finally pulled back the curtain on its long-rumored next-generation console. Speaking to Wired, Mark Cerny, lead system architect on the as-yet-untitled new system, detailed what to expect from the PlayStation 4's replacement.

Cerny said the new console "allows for fundamental changes in what a game can be," noting increased processing power for higher graphical fidelity via ray tracing, a rendering technique that produces much more true-to-life lighting effects. The tech is already used in big-budget Hollywood productions but has so far not been realized fully in gaming due to its relative slowness and high computational cost.

Cerny also detailed plans for more 3D audio on the new console. "With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it,” he says. 

The so-called PlayStation 5 will also be compatible with the current PlayStation VR headset. “I won't go into the details of our VR strategy today beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console," he says.

What Cerny calls a "game changer," however, is the new console's solid-state drives (SSD), which drastically improves loading and rendering times in-game. Cerny showed off a demonstration of Marvel's Spider-Man on both the PS4 and the new console DevKit and the load times dropped from 15 seconds on the latter to less than 1 second on the former. Cerny claims the new console's SSD has a higher raw bandwidth than any current PC's. 

While Cerny did not detail any information on features or software for the new console (other than saying developers are currently working with the tech), he did say that the PlayStation 5 will not be a download-only machine and physical copies of games will still be accepted on the console. 

As for rumors of game streaming services, such as Google's Stadia or Microsoft's Project xCloud, Cerny says, "We are cloud-gaming pioneers, and our vision should become clear as we head toward launch."

No release date for Sony's new console was revealed, but it will not be available in 2019.