As many of you (or more likely none of you) will know, Javier and myself run a podcast dedicated to everything PlayStation, creatively named – The PS Pod. Unfortunately though, episodes have been few and far between over the last month or so, partly for personal reasons which I won’t bore you with here but also partly because news around Sony’s console had been a bit non-existent recently. That was until, seemingly out of nowhere on October 1st, Sony announced in a very abrupt tweet that they were parting ways with CEO of SIE Worldwide Studios – Shawn Layden. The same day saw a price drop for Sony’s PlayStation Now service as well as a big push that included the addition of new games such as GTAV and finally giving us the ability to download titles instead of just streaming like before. That was of course not all… Just a few short days ago the long awaited announcement for the PS5 was made, confirming a late 2020 release as well as a few spec details. Needless to say Javier and myself will be back in front of the mic very soon to cover all of this but until then, let’s try unpack all of this and see what it all means for the future of PlayStation.

I want to start with my biggest concern and that’s the news about Shawn Layden. For a lot of fans, Layden has been the face of PlayStation, often being the man we see on stage for big E3 conferences. With his role as CEO, it’s fair to say we owe a lot of thanks to this man for the direction PlayStation has gone in over the last decade or so. From the resurrection of a failed PS3 launch to the outright success of the PS4’s launch and its continued stronghold on the console market to this day. Incredible single player, narrative driven exclusives have been at the heart of everything PlayStation in recent years and if reports are to be believed, a lot of that was thanks to Shawn Layden’s vision. So why is he gone? The fact we’re nearly two weeks on from his departure and still haven’t heard anything from the man himself or Sony, it leads me to believe something big has gone down. Especially for this to happen so close to this PS Now push and the PS5 announcement. Just take one look at Sony’s wording for him leaving…

Yes it’s very polite but come on, the dude has been part of the company since 1987! And this is all he gets?! Sorry but there’s more to this story than meets the eye. The most troubling news I keep hearing is that a lot of this is due to a power struggle between Layden and current SIE President – Jim Ryan. Now I may be jumping to conclusions or even making outlandish assumptions here but everything I’ve heard on the two characters is that Layden is all about the single player experience and Ryan is a strong supporter of online multiplayer and how good it can be for business. If you know the sort of gamer I am then you can probably understand my concerns here. Fingers crossed I’m just being dramatic, but I fear the PS5 focusing more of its exclusives towards online multiplayer now and that does not make me excited in the slightest. Give me God of War and The Last of Us over any online focused game every day of the week!

Next up we had the new push for PlayStation Now. This one was a bit more cut and dry and is an obvious attempt to compete with the highly successful Xbox Game Pass. For all the negativity I was just sprouting on the departure of Shawn Layden, the first big move without him is this, and it’s undoubtedly a fantastic one. Will it take off? Who knows but it’s got a lot more of a chance now than it did a month ago! Personally there’s still not the right selection of games to tempt me just yet but definitely watch this space…

Last but far from least was the announcement of the PS5 and that we’ll be able to get out hands on it come Christmas 2020. First off the fact it’s called PS5 and even the release window won’t really be a surprise to anyone, but the fact it’s now official is exciting none the less. I’m far from an expert when it comes to the specs side of things but everything they’ve told us so far sounds promising. What come as a relief to me though was the announcement that the console will play 100GB optical discs and double as a 4K blu ray player. As hyped as I am to be able to start buying UHD blu rays, the relief comes in the knowledge that physical media isn’t going anywhere just yet, which felt like it may have been the case a short while ago. Although I am starting to come round to my games collection being partly digital, I don’t feel anywhere near ready to be forced into it being a permanent commitment, and the fact Sony recognise that can only be a good thing.

So to summarise, I can’t help but fear the worst when thinking about the Shawn Layden situation but the fact of the matter is that everything that’s happened since he’s gone has been largely positive (outside of losing Facebook integration, that annoyed me). There’s so much more to unpack with all of this, hell I haven’t even spoke about the latest PS4 update which now gives us the ability to remote play to pretty much any device! All this and more will be covered in the next episode of the PS Pod with Javier and myself so make sure you’re subscribed on either Spotify, iTunes or Stitcher!

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