The PS5 launched in November 2020 and is Sony’s fastest-selling console in history, with more than 13 million units sold. 14 months later, getting your hands on Sony’s shiny new console is still frustratingly difficult.
Like many companies, Sony is dealing with supply chain issues caused by the ongoing semi-conductor chip shortage. As a result, Sony is struggling to keep up with demand for the PS5 - consoles still regularly sell out on retail websites in minutes.
The solution? Keep building PS4s!
Sony extends PS4 production by one year
According to Bloomberg, Sony originally planned to discontinue PS4 production at the end of 2021, eight years after it launched. However, Sony is reportedly keeping the PS4 alive throughout 2022 as it deals with the PS5’s supply issues.
Extending production throughout 2022 means Sony will make around one million extra PS4s this year to keep sales rolling in. Since it requires less advanced chips, the PS4 is cheaper to manufacture, making it more affordable for consumers.
Sony hopes extending the PS4’s lifecycle will reduce demand for the PS5. It also enables Sony to negotiate better deals with manufacturing partners for PS5 production.
But this could be bad news for racing game fans who want the best possible experience.
More cross-gen racing games are coming
More than one year into the PS5’s lifecycle, Destruction AllStars is the only PS5-exclusive racing game. And it could stay that way for a long time. Currently, there are no exclusive racing games on Xbox Series X|S: Forza Horizon 5 is playable on Xbox One as well as Xbox Series X|S.
Out of every racing game coming in 2022, the only title releasing exclusively on next-generation hardware is Forza Motorsport for the Xbox Series X|S. That said, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed if Forza Motorsport will come out of the pits in 2022, but we expect to find out more at E3. Hotly anticipated games like F1 2022, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown, and MotoGP 22 are expected to release across both console generations.
Polyphony was criticised for developing Gran Turismo 7 on PS5 and PS4. When it was announced, many assumed GT7 was a PS5-exclusive. Of course, it makes sense from a business perspective. While Sony has shipped over 13 million PS5s, the PS4 is the second best-selling home console of all time with over 116 million units sold.
This means legions of GT fans will play GT7 on PS4. But some fans are worried GT7 will be a glorified PS4 game with prettier graphics and gimmicky DualSense enhancements. We may have to wait until GT8 for a truly next-gen Gran Turismo experience.
Polyphony faced a similar situation in 2013 with GT6. The PS4 released the same year with Need For Speed Rivals being the only racing game available at launch. GT6 would have been the perfect killer title to increase PS4 sales and show off the hardware. Instead, it underperformed on PS3.
With just over five million units sold, GT6 is the lowest selling mainline GT game, so it will be interesting to see how GT7 performs on PS4. By contrast, GT3 skipped PS1 and launched in 2001 early in the PS2’s lifecycle. It sold over 14 million copies and showcased the graphical prowess of the PS2 better than any other game at the time. GT7 could do the same for PS5 if Polyphony wasn't shackled by the PS4.
With PS4 production extended by a year, expect more cross-gen racing games to release in 2022 and beyond. It’s frustrating because racing games have always pushed technological limits. Thanks to their stunning visuals and fluid frame rates, launch games like Ridge Racer, MotorStorm, and Forza Motorsport 5 have effectively showcased new console hardware.
With developers splitting resources between new and old hardware, it could be a long time before new games fully utilise the capabilities of next-generation hardware, resulting in compromised graphics and gameplay. We’re already seeing this compromise.
Instead of running at 4K with a solid 60 FPS, most next-generation racing games feature two graphics settings enabling you to prioritise visual quality or performance. Extra developer time dedicated to last-gen hardware also means less time using the extra muscle of next-gen technology to innovate and add new game features.
If Forza Motorsport is delayed beyond 2022, we won't experience a truly next-gen racing game until 2023 at the earliest.