I’ve always been a bit pessimistic when it came to the viability of buying a PS5 for the average gamer. Considering its $499 price tag for the standard, non-digital version coupled with a $70 price for AAA titles, the expense always seemed to be hanging just out of ‘justifiable’ range. Compared to a gaming PC, the price might seem quite low, but when you factor in the price of controllers and the fact that you have to pay to have the right to play online, the costs associated between the two platforms quickly closes, and PC gaming, with its constant supply of discounts and free online access (provided you’re provided), actually becomes cheaper within a year or two.
Aside from costs to the user, the amount of games that are actually worth playing on the PS5 also struck me as a little thin to be worth the purchase. If I were to pick it up, I’d also grab Demon Souls, The Last of Us 2, and something related to Spiderman before never touching the console again, most likely, probably. In short, these titles offer something to me that are exclusive to the PS5 where my PC can’t compete by virtue of not having access to the games (and that’s not even true anymore in relation to Spiderman: MM). It seems like the overall trend of PS5 purchases supports my thoughts regarding longevity with the console.
With data provided by SportsLens, one can see rather clearly that the fervor initially met with the PS5’s release is calming in quick fashion. In the fiscal year of 2020, Sony saw 338.9 million sales of game titles. Those numbers are split between both physical copies and digital downloads, the latter of which made up roughly 70% of all sales, to no surprise at all. In FY 2022, however, those total figures dropped to 264.2 million sales, which shows a consistent downtrend in interest towards the console and its respective titles.
I couldn’t prove to you, definitively, that the core issue with these figures lies in the longevity of the console’s offered games, but consider the Nintendo Switch for a moment: A console that’s been supported for over six years and has access to a long line of exclusives such that Breathe of the Wild, Smash Bros Ultimate, and the newly released Tears of the Kingdom (just to name a few heavy hitters), is also the console that can be bought as a handheld for only $200, and functions on the go instead of being a strictly immobile console. These are attributes that the PS5, in the most generous of terms, can’t readily compete with.
For gamers who have been paying half attention, the aforementioned Tears of the Kingdom, alone, would be reason enough to go for a Switch over a PS5. The console is cheaper, and while the game is stuck at a new normal of $70, the purchase would serve as a buffer into the world of Nintendo games that are pretty much all worth your time by any reasonable standard of game review. They are, by and large, games that were made to be played offline, and with your friends and family, which means that you aren’t heavily tempted to buy into their online subscription model for a whopping 20 bucks per year (vs. the Playstation’s $60 annually).
When looking at the difference in sales from exclusive titles vs. third party creations, one can see a trend of decision making akin to what I outline above: people are buying the PS5 because it holds access to certain exclusives, while ditching it when offered the choice to play other titles on different consoles or the PC. Between FY 2021 and FY 2021, the decrease in sales from Sony exclusives dropped only 2%, while third party titles dropped a whopping 15%, suggesting that most people are only purchasing the console for games they can’t play elsewhere.
Its also inconvenient to note that, despite revamping their subscription model, Sony lost 600,000 in PS Plus users, which suggests that players aren’t just holding off on buying games, their also holding off on using the console at all, or at the very least aren’t impressed with the online selection offered by the PS5.
As much as I love the Playstation legacy and its ability to craft one of a kind experiences, as is exemplified by their longstanding relationship with Naughty Dog, for example, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that their delivery on the PS5 experience has seemed a tad underwhelming, especially with the likes of Nintendo breathing down their necks. Maybe the second half of this year can change that?