Did PlayStation lose its golden touch in 2019?

Days Gone by.

This time next year, many of us will be down several hundred quid with a shiny new bit of kit perched atop our television stands (or tucked away out of sight). Two of them, if you’re the kind of money bags gamer who insists on snapping up both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X when they both launch in late 2020.

Sony and Microsoft aren’t blind to the fact that their upcoming consoles will need a must-have lineup of games straight off the bat, and while backwards compatibility will help beef up your day one selection of things to play, there will be those aching to see these two new boxes flexing their technical muscles.

As such, the majority, if not all of Sony’s studios not polishing off PS4 projects have moved on to PS5 development, meaning 2019 was slightly less exciting when it came to big budget PlayStation exclusives. Even in a slower year there were still some highlights.

Sony games released in 2019

Blood & Truth | Review
Concrete Genie | Review 
Days Gone | Review
Death Stranding | Review
Dreams Creators Early Access
Everybody’s Golf VR | Review
MediEvil | Review
MLB The Show 19
ReadySet Heroes

With Horizon: Zero Dawn, God of War, and Marvel’s Spider-Man all being huge successes for Sony, there was hope that Days Gone would continue to carry the torch. Although Sony has typically juggled a diverse array of games, it has started to lean on larger open world games inhabited by complex characters and riveting storylines.

Days Gone clearly subscribed to that same template but was far less compelling than its counterparts in just about every aspect. Sony Bend just doesn’t have quite the same chops as a Naughty Dog or Insomniac, but despite some more middling reviews, Days Gone still went on to garner a loyal following and we’re curious to see whether it’ll turn into a tentpole PlayStation franchise in future.

Another developer that continues to drift in and out of the spotlight is the crew at Media Molecule. After years in development, we were able to get our first proper hands on with Dreams as it came to early access – the first Sony published game to do so. Its creation tools are rich and encourage creativity, though we’ve yet to see a huge amount of buzz for the game due to how content is curated and the lack of MM’s own playable stages. Hopefully that will all change next February when Dreams graduates to a full release.

We’ve talked enough about Death Stranding these past few weeks but it’s definitely worth mentioning as one of the highlights of Sony’s year. Easily the best PlayStation exclusive of 2019, Kojima’s barmy walking sim fascinated us in many unexpected ways, delivering on the Metal Gear creator’s promise to explore a new genre of game.

As for the PlayStation 4 itself, Sony reported earlier this year that it had sold over 100 million units, reaching that milestone faster than the Nintendo Wii and even outpacing the PS2. With 2019 being its last full year as the company’s primary platform, sales should theoretically start to slow down, but it’s set to go out with a bang in 2020 as we still have two major exclusives to look forward to in The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima.

Despite some of the biggest games of the generation still to come for the PlayStation 4, 2019 took a few unusual detours for Sony. For one thing, they decided not to attend E3 2019, all of the remaining current gen games on their slate having been announced years in advance, and that left a void that others tried to fill at the show. But Sony’s shadow loomed large, not least because they took the even more unusual step of handing Wired an exclusive behind the scenes glimpse of the next-gen PlayStation. Not once, but twice! Through this we got the first hints of things like SSD storage, ray-traced graphics, backward compatibility, haptic triggers and more. Oh, and a funky looking dev kit.

Overall, it’s been another strong year for Sony, but one with few surprises. With PlayStation still at number one it hasn’t had to make the same kind of gutsy moves Microsoft has in terms of Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud. However, it was similar complacency from Sony and innovation from Microsoft that saw the Xbox 360 initially batter the PS3. We’re not likely to see the same mistake here, but whatever happens 2020 is going to be one hell of a year, for video games at least.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.

1 Comment

  1. Death Stranding was the game of the generation for me, so I don’t think so.

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