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Opinion Analysis Let's make the PS5 a failure! - A fun “what if” exercise.

smithg5

Member
Nov 4, 2014
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Face it XBox fans, the PS4 was a smashing success. Just a complete runaway win for Sony. Sure, XBox finally got its footing halfway through the generation, but in terms of mindshare and the dollars of the average consumer, it was too little, too late.

That said, things can change. The odds are definitely in favor of Sony heading into a new generation, but I think it could be interesting to examine where things might fall apart, purely in theory.

DISCLAIMER: Some might dismiss this as a concern thread, but I really don't mean it to be. This kind of strategizing and analysis is just interesting to me. I've got a PS4 Pro and love it. I enjoy my One S too. My bet is that PS5 will win this generation, but I personally think the odds are somewhat close - maybe 60/40. But why not take a look at where disaster might strike. You might be wondering why I'm focusing on the PS5 - well, I think it's less fun to take down an underdog, but maybe I'll do another one for that.

With that out of the way, let's all ask..


What could make the PS5 fail?

To structure this assessment, I've created some categories that represent historically where console platforms have failed and try to estimate PS5's exposure for each category. The "risk" rating is intended to be a relative rating of where Playstation is weakest, not a likelihood that they will actually fail in the given area.


Inconsistent Software Success

Just because something works now doesn't mean it will work the next time. Microsoft learned this (I hope) with Halo 4 and 5. Sony learned this to a degree with exclusive titles early on with PS3. Nintendo failed to move the sales needle with its IP in the GameCube generation despite some arguably great GCN games and success in the past.

In 2020, Sony's ability to create a desirable lineup of software is honestly second to none (though lately Nintendo has come close). Sure, they don't have a ton of competitive online games like Microsoft or family friendly games like Nintendo, but they have a varied lineup of games that people get really excited about. The quality is almost always top notch, and even the "duds" are pretty good overall.

Maybe they start resting on their laurels and phone-in some sequels and remakes. Maybe there are shifts in market trends that leaves their narrative style lagging in popularity. Maybe they have some management issues that cause poor decisions and turmoil that effects product quality. Maybe. But so far the consistency is high, and there aren't really any signs of this happening right now.

Risk: very low


Technology/Performance

This is not usually as critically relevant for the success of a platform, but it played into the contest between PS4/XBO. It also was a factor with PS3's complexity for development.

It's hard to imagine the PS5 will have any real shortcomings here apart from perhaps not having the crown of "most powerful console". On paper, the delta with Series X looks pretty small. 84% of the GPU performance and 97% of the CPU performance, while not completely insignificant, is probably not going to matter in the long run. The situation was worse for XBox One and most players didn't really care in the end. On top of that, the PS5 SSD performance has the potential to make exclusive games have some unique qualities over the competition.

That said, what would it take for this category to cause the PS5 to fail miserably? Here is an unlikely (and somewhat conspiratorial), nightmare scenario for Sony. Pretend it is is early 2019 and the PS5 is all ready for release with a 9 TFLOP RDNA 1 GPU. Sony hears rumors of the performance of the Series X. Realizing they don't have enough time to switch out their SoC, they come up with a plan to clock the CPU and GPU as high as possible with exotic cooling while tinkering with the GPU just enough to label it an RDNA 2 product in their marketing. In reality, the GPU doesn't have the likely 150% performance increase that RDNA2 has over RDNA1, making the Series X more like a 18 TFLOP GPU in comparison. Worse still, efficiency improvements like Mesh Shading and Variable Rate Shading will just create an even deeper performance delta. PS5 ends up being just barely half the power of the Series X. PS5 games just look and perform worse across the board.

This almost certainly is not the case.

Risk: low


Price

Historically, this is probably the most obvious cause of failure. Examples include the XBox One at $499 and the PS3 at $499/$599.

It's hard to make a prediction here because we don't have the price of either console and there are a lot of unknowns.

Material Cost

First we have to consider materials cost. On the one hand, Microsoft's GPU is a lot bigger, but there's a lot of custom silicon on both Series X and PS5 SoCs, so it is unlikely we would be able to guess which one costs more at this point. RAM price should be similar overall. All of this is somewhat moot in my opinion.

So where is Sony vulnerable with PS5 cost? SSD cost would be very hard to predict. That said, despite being smaller in capacity, I suspect all of the custom components in Sony's SSD will likely cost a bit more than XBox, but that is pure speculation. Likewise, it seems probable that the cooling and case components of the PS5 would cost more as evidenced by the size of the console and the high GPU clock speeds. This is also speculative as it depends on the materials, and what is actually going on in there, but it seems likely to me from what we have seen so far. Lastly, I suspect their controller is more expensive to manufacture than Microsoft with the complex haptic feedback, microphones, and speakers. These components add up and could make it challenging for Sony to keep the price low.

Deep Pockets

Microsoft seems ready to do almost anything to win this race. It's not impossible that they might invest billions in getting a wide hardware base early on. They spent billions on Minecraft and perhaps billions on Warner Bros. If they're willing to do that, what if they subsidized the first 10 million Series X units by $200? That would only cost them a measly $2 billion. Maybe Sony would do the same but Sony is a lot less desperate and a lot less full of cash.

Lockhart

The last factor here is potentially a big one: Lockhart. If it's true that an extremely low cost 1080p focused machine will hit the market, that could really disrupt the distribution of sales early on. Even if the Series X is the same price or more expensive than the PS5, a $249 "competitor" could inflict similar damage to that of a huge price disparity.

Such a box might not appeal to the crowd on this board, but when it comes to the more casual consumer (of which there are many), it could become very attractive. In 2021 there will be a lot of PS4s sold. Very likely more PS4s than PS5s. If Microsoft is smart, they would target Lockhart at this consumer, and there's a chance they could win a big share of them. Call of Duty is going to look a lot better on Lockhart than on the PS4. Lockhart games will look the same as 1080p streams of Series X games on Twitch. This may appeal to a lot of people if it is as cheap as the rumors suggest. In the end, this could actually cause the XBox "Series" platform to surpass PS5 in sales.

With all of that said, we just don't have all the information to make a real determination. We can only speculate until we see some real numbers. Sony should definitely be prioritizing price, and I suspect they are.

Risk: medium


Focus

This can be a real killer. A bundled Kinect 2 and cable TV integration on XBox One is the most famous and recent example, but also consider the PS3's focus on exotic hardware, or Nintendo's striving to be different with GameCube.

There's potential that Sony is focusing too much of its resources on PSVR2 which could end in a Kinect 2 like disaster. PSVR was a success, but so was Kinect. In reality though, there is no sign that is happening. Considering they didn't mention it at all during the June showcase leads me to believe that they are intentionally trying to avoid such a mistake.

Arguably the PS4 is a crowning achievement in focusing on what you are good at and sticking to it. The gimmick of motion tracked dual-shock controllers and the pretty successful PSVR did not steal much attention from Sony's core competency of great, classic Playstation games. This seems unlikely to change.

Risk: low


Missing New Paradigms

Back in the 90s, Nintendo didn't see the value in optical media for the N64. Oops! It can be easy to miss the winds of change and it can take a long time to catch up.

One major factor in XBox 360's success was its very modern (for 2005) XBox Live service. Despite criticism, it was unique in drawing whole groups of friends to a single platform with its party voice chat and other social features. In my estimation, it took Playstation a generation to catch up with PS+.

Despite PS4 doing pretty well in this area, online services and new technology frontiers have never really been Sony's strength. I think this is evidenced by the 2019 deal Sony struck with Microsoft to use Azure for gaming and content streaming. Microsoft just undeniably has the upper hand here.

I see two related threats to Playstation in this area: Cloud streaming and GamePass. Yes, PSNow exists, but Sony is not making the same strides here that Microsoft is. Cloud streaming in particular seems like an area where Sony has a lot to improve. I agree with Michael Pachter that in about five years, the average Fortnite and CoD player will be most attracted to a console that isn't a console. Something like a GamePass subscription with no XBox. They will play on their phone or streaming box, enjoy a Netflix-like subscription, and maybe buy a CoD or a FIFA to stream from the cloud. This will be much easier for Microsoft to accomplish and they are investing heavily in this now. They made specific design choices around Series X to make it easier to stream from the cloud. There's no real indication that Sony has the same focus in their hardware or services.

This may very well prove to be a fad and fizzle out, but it seems likely to me that the price and inconvenience of a console will likely only be tolerated by gaming purists by the end of the decade. Unfortunately for Sony, Microsoft is unbelievably well equipped to deliver this experience. And so are Amazon and Google, despite their strategic misfires. If there's one thing that could take down Sony in the next 5-10 years, I think it would be this.

Risk: high


So what do you think? Where is the PS5 vulnerable?
 

jigglet

Member
May 18, 2020
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The simplest answer would be if they price is too high and MS comes in with a Series S that's just stupidly cheap.

Next most logical reason might be Coronavirus hits the economy harder than even most pessimists are predicting and we go 3-4 years deep into the lifecycle of the next gen consoles before the mass market even has an appetite for them, meaning they can't ride down the cost curve and they just remain persistently too expensive.
 
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smithg5

Member
Nov 4, 2014
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Someone make spark notes for this long ass post
Did this seem like a good idea when you spent the better part of an afternoon typing it?
Not reading this. Go post it in in your blog.
I think you should get out more.

Sheesh, I'm sorry I guess.

I had a good time writing it, so there's that. I guess I thought it might spark some interesting discussion, but oh well.
 
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Shizumapower

Member
Jan 18, 2015
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Umm sure.

Robots, please let me know when you can process my PS5 preorder.
 
Face it XBox fans, the PS4 was a smashing success. Just a complete runaway win for Sony. Sure, XBox finally got its footing halfway through the generation, but in terms of mindshare and the dollars of the average consumer, it was too little, too late.

That said, things can change. The odds are definitely in favor of Sony heading into a new generation, but I think it could be interesting to examine where things might fall apart, purely in theory.

DISCLAIMER: Some might dismiss this as a concern thread, but I really don't mean it to be. This kind of strategizing and analysis is just interesting to me. I've got a PS4 Pro and love it. I enjoy my One S too. My bet is that PS5 will win this generation, but I personally think the odds are somewhat close - maybe 60/40. But why not take a look at where disaster might strike. You might be wondering why I'm focusing on the PS5 - well, I think it's less fun to take down an underdog, but maybe I'll do another one for that.

With that out of the way, let's all ask..


What could make the PS5 fail?

To structure this assessment, I've created some categories that represent historically where console platforms have failed and try to estimate PS5's exposure for each category. The "risk" rating is intended to be a relative rating of where Playstation is weakest, not a likelihood that they will actually fail in the given area.


Inconsistent Software Success

Just because something works now doesn't mean it will work the next time. Microsoft learned this (I hope) with Halo 4 and 5. Sony learned this to a degree with exclusive titles early on with PS3. Nintendo failed to move the sales needle with its IP in the GameCube generation despite some arguably great GCN games and success in the past.

In 2020, Sony's ability to create a desirable lineup of software is honestly second to none (though lately Nintendo has come close). Sure, they don't have a ton of competitive online games like Microsoft or family friendly games like Nintendo, but they have a varied lineup of games that people get really excited about. The quality is almost always top notch, and even the "duds" are pretty good overall.

Maybe they start resting on their laurels and phone-in some sequels and remakes. Maybe there are shifts in market trends that leaves their narrative style lagging in popularity. Maybe they have some management issues that cause poor decisions and turmoil that effects product quality. Maybe. But so far the consistency is high, and there aren't really any signs of this happening right now.

Risk: very low


Technology/Performance

This is not usually as critically relevant for the success of a platform, but it played into the contest between PS4/XBO. It also was a factor with PS3's complexity for development.

It's hard to imagine the PS5 will have any real shortcomings here apart from perhaps not having the crown of "most powerful console". On paper, the delta with Series X looks pretty small. 84% of the GPU performance and 97% of the CPU performance, while not completely insignificant, is probably not going to matter in the long run. The situation was worse for XBox One and most players didn't really care in the end. On top of that, the PS5 SSD performance has the potential to make exclusive games have some unique qualities over the competition.

That said, what would it take for this category to cause the PS5 to fail miserably? Here is an unlikely (and somewhat conspiratorial), nightmare scenario for Sony. Pretend it is is early 2019 and the PS5 is all ready for release with a 9 TFLOP RDNA 1 GPU. Sony hears rumors of the performance of the Series X. Realizing they don't have enough time to switch out their SoC, they come up with a plan to clock the CPU and GPU as high as possible with exotic cooling while tinkering with the GPU just enough to label it an RDNA 2 product in their marketing. In reality, the GPU doesn't have the likely 150% performance increase that RDNA2 has over RDNA1, making the Series X more like a 18 TFLOP GPU in comparison. Worse still, efficiency improvements like Mesh Shading and Variable Rate Shading will just create an even deeper performance delta. PS5 ends up being just barely half the power of the Series X. PS5 games just look and perform worse across the board.

This almost certainly is not the case.

Risk: low


Price

Historically, this is probably the most obvious cause of failure. Examples include the XBox One at $499 and the PS3 at $499/$599.

It's hard to make a prediction here because we don't have the price of either console and there are a lot of unknowns.

Material Cost

First we have to consider materials cost. On the one hand, Microsoft's GPU is a lot bigger, but there's a lot of custom silicon on both Series X and PS5 SoCs, so it is unlikely we would be able to guess which one costs more at this point. RAM price should be similar overall. All of this is somewhat moot in my opinion.

So where is Sony vulnerable with PS5 cost? SSD cost would be very hard to predict. That said, despite being smaller in capacity, I suspect all of the custom components in Sony's SSD will likely cost a bit more than XBox, but that is pure speculation. Likewise, it seems probable that the cooling and case components of the PS5 would cost more as evidenced by the size of the console and the high GPU clock speeds. This is also speculative as it depends on the materials, and what is actually going on in there, but it seems likely to me from what we have seen so far. Lastly, I suspect their controller is more expensive to manufacture than Microsoft with the complex haptic feedback, microphones, and speakers. These components add up and could make it challenging for Sony to keep the price low.

Deep Pockets

Microsoft seems ready to do almost anything to win this race. It's not impossible that they might invest billions in getting a wide hardware base early on. They spent billions on Minecraft and perhaps billions on Warner Bros. If they're willing to do that, what if they subsidized the first 10 million Series X units by $200? That would only cost them a measly $2 billion. Maybe Sony would do the same but Sony is a lot less desperate and a lot less full of cash.

Lockhart

The last factor here is potentially a big one: Lockhart. If it's true that an extremely low cost 1080p focused machine will hit the market, that could really disrupt the distribution of sales early on. Even if the Series X is the same price or more expensive than the PS5, a $249 "competitor" could inflict similar damage to that of a huge price disparity.

Such a box might not appeal to the crowd on this board, but when it comes to the more casual consumer (of which there are many), it could become very attractive. In 2021 there will be a lot of PS4s sold. Very likely more PS4s than PS5s. If Microsoft is smart, they would target Lockhart at this consumer, and there's a chance they could win a big share of them. Call of Duty is going to look a lot better on Lockhart than on the PS4. Lockhart games will look the same as 1080p streams of Series X games on Twitch. This may appeal to a lot of people if it is as cheap as the rumors suggest. In the end, this could actually cause the XBox "Series" platform to surpass PS5 in sales.

With all of that said, we just don't have all the information to make a real determination. We can only speculate until we see some real numbers. Sony should definitely be prioritizing price, and I suspect they are.

Risk: medium


Focus

This can be a real killer. A bundled Kinect 2 and cable TV integration on XBox One is the most famous and recent example, but also consider the PS3's focus on exotic hardware, or Nintendo's striving to be different with GameCube.

There's potential that Sony is focusing too much of its resources on PSVR2 which could end in a Kinect 2 like disaster. PSVR was a success, but so was Kinect. In reality though, there is no sign that is happening. Considering they didn't mention it at all during the June showcase leads me to believe that they are intentionally trying to avoid such a mistake.

Arguably the PS4 is a crowning achievement in focusing on what you are good at and sticking to it. The gimmick of motion tracked dual-shock controllers and the pretty successful PSVR did not steal much attention from Sony's core competency of great, classic Playstation games. This seems unlikely to change.

Risk: low


Missing New Paradigms

Back in the 90s, Nintendo didn't see the value in optical media for the N64. Oops! It can be easy to miss the winds of change and it can take a long time to catch up.

One major factor in XBox 360's success was its very modern (for 2005) XBox Live service. Despite criticism, it was unique in drawing whole groups of friends to a single platform with its party voice chat and other social features. In my estimation, it took Playstation a generation to catch up with PS+.

Despite PS4 doing pretty well in this area, online services and new technology frontiers have never really been Sony's strength. I think this is evidenced by the 2019 deal Sony struck with Microsoft to use Azure for gaming and content streaming. Microsoft just undeniably has the upper hand here.

I see two related threats to Playstation in this area: Cloud streaming and GamePass. Yes, PSNow exists, but Sony is not making the same strides here that Microsoft is. Cloud streaming in particular seems like an area where Sony has a lot to improve. I agree with Michael Pachter that in about five years, the average Fortnite and CoD player will be most attracted to a console that isn't a console. Something like a GamePass subscription with no XBox. They will play on their phone or streaming box, enjoy a Netflix-like subscription, and maybe buy a CoD or a FIFA to stream from the cloud. This will be much easier for Microsoft to accomplish and they are investing heavily in this now. They made specific design choices around Series X to make it easier to stream from the cloud. There's no real indication that Sony has the same focus in their hardware or services.

This may very well prove to be a fad and fizzle out, but it seems likely to me that the price and inconvenience of a console will likely only be tolerated by gaming purists by the end of the decade. Unfortunately for Sony, Microsoft is unbelievably well equipped to deliver this experience. And so are Amazon and Google, despite their strategic misfires. If there's one thing that could take down Sony in the next 5-10 years, I think it would be this.

Risk: high


So what do you think? Where is the PS5 vulnerable?
Holy crap I can't believe I read that all, lol. But to answer your question, I don't think the ps5 is vulnerable at all. The fanbase is too solid, and too committed to the brand to leave it..including myself. The only way I would leave is if they forced me to play Hello Neighbor as the only game I could boot.
 

Tesseract

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had-e-u kogh-gi-muh haz funished transferancering da meter gere sorito goons oph da patio-aught-o n 2 prastration tree
 
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RavageX

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May 11, 2017
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I must say, the kinect was not a success. I don't remember anyone saying this is something you must experience, and weren't the handful of titles for it crap?

PSVR has been on a whole 'nother level and has grown with time.

Kinect? Well....
 
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kretos

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Holy crap I can't believe I read that all, lol. But to answer your question, I don't think the ps5 is vulnerable at all. The fanbase is too solid, and too committed to the brand to leave it..including myself. The only way I would leave is if they forced me to play Hello Neighbor as the only game I could boot.

I wanted to see what was the post before he edited it so thanks for quoting it

but now that i see it's a long ass post, this is for you op

 

Abear21

Banned
Apr 11, 2020
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Love this type of industry talk and conjecture and reading while passing that good to myself, so here goes.

Corona affecting Sony/the market in general cannot be underestimated and people don’t have money to spend this holiday on a luxury console when they have a perfectly good machine on the shelf already.

There’s not enough 4K TVs in the wild for people to see the real difference so they stick with their 1080p console. With working environments not at 100% due to Covid, there will certainly be a lackluster launch software lineup—as well as a light next spring, summer, fall, and yeah, all of next year should be lighter than usual for releases.

Sony just can’t move enough units into homes in 2021 to get third party developers to want to focus their efforts on taking advantage of the PS5’s unique hardware features. And with layoffs in the industry taking a big financial risk to focus on hardware that isn’t in homes yet just doesn’t make sense. First party support will be light too with too many remasters for resolution outputs people don’t care about.

Meanwhile M$ comes out dirt cheap with Flight Simulator packed in and flight stick for $100 and...people...lose...their...shit.
Microsoft also needs an online battle royal free to play exclusive to take off for this to really hit Sony, but it’s possible.
 
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Sub_Level

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Apr 9, 2009
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I must say, the kinect was not a success. I don't remember anyone saying this is something you must experience, and weren't the handful of titles for it crap?

It was a bad product but financially it was successful.


Microsoft told Fast Co. Design that it had sold 35 million Kinect units since its initial release in November 2010.

A fad that did well for the year or two it was relevant.
 

Jigsaah

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Jan 31, 2018
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Sheesh, I'm sorry I guess.

I had a good time writing it, so there's that. I guess I thought it might spark some interesting discussion, but oh well.
There's nothing of import mentioned in this dissertation you wrote my man. Everything you've said has been discussed before, argued for and against. When you just re-hash previous statements, coat it in your own predictions it becomes less of a "discussion" and more of a dictation. There would likely be very few Gaffers who would actually read all of this, let alone respond in any substantive way.

I'm sorry, but there seems to be a lack of self awareness that I felt compelled to bring to your attention. Tone it down a bit.
 

smithg5

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Nov 4, 2014
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Restored the post. Own it. Have no shame in the vidya game.

I just don't see the point if no one is even remotely interested in discussing the content of the post.

I have unintentionally broken some social rule for acceptable post length and I regret it. Did not mean to self-indulge.
 
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whitesugar

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why would you spend all that time typing up, what appears at a glance, to be a decent enough argument, and then give your thread such a stupid title?
 

INCUBASE

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I must say, the kinect was not a success. I don't remember anyone saying this is something you must experience, and weren't the handful of titles for it crap?

PSVR has been on a whole 'nother level and has grown with time.

Kinect? Well....

Kinect is good for body tracking in vr on pc, other than that........
 

Mod of War

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Oct 23, 2018
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I just don't see the point if no one is even remotely interested in discussing the content of the post.

I have unintentionally broken some social rule for acceptable post length and I regret it. Did not mean to self-indulge.

Don't feel bad for some of the short attention spans shaped by the Twitterlypuffs. The other half is going to be savagery tho, this true.
 

Abear21

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Don’t apologize OP it’s thoughtful discussion and it took me less than 10 mins, I waste time doing worse things than reading.

Thread title getting attention is the objective so I’m not sure what you did wrong!
 
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SirTerry-T

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Dec 4, 2018
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In all fairness there's no chance in hell of Sony "failing", they will always be number one, regardless of the strides MS and Nintendo make.
I do think the ride for them may not be as smooth for them this gen though.
I'm still not quite convince that Jim Ryan's the right man for the job either.
Time, as always, will tell.

 
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bender

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Abridged version: Sony pulls a Wu-Tang Clan and releases the one copy console.
 

Chromata

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This is Shill Force One to Jim Ryan, we have an incident on site. The suspect is forming a resistance group against the PS5.

Target is in sight and we're locked and loaded. We're on standby ready for the fire signal, Playstation Nation, over and out.
 
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iamvin22

Industry Verified
Jan 22, 2010
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Just wow. You do realize people that work at Sony depend on their jobs to pay bills and live their lives. Why anyone would want a company to fail is beyond insane.
 

smithg5

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Nov 4, 2014
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In all fairness there's no chance in hell of Sony "failing", they will always be number one, regardless of the strides MS and Nintendo make.
I do think the ride for them may not be as smooth for them this gen though.
I'm still not quite convince that Jim Ryan's the right man for the job either.
Time, as always, will tell.


This is closer to the truth than most of the personal criticisms so far.