The PlayStation 5 will enter a video game industry much different to the games industry that facilitated the launch of the PlayStation 4. Although competitive gaming and esports was very much a presence when the PS4 first became available, esports has grown significantly in the time since the PS4 has been on the market and has massively shaped the industry that will meet the PS5.
According to a report from digital research and analysis firm SuperData Research, the esports industry was worth $1.5 billion in 2017. A 2016 report from industry analysis firm Newzoo also confirms that over one billion people around the world are aware of esports, either as an industry or through tuning into an esports live stream themselves.
What this means is that any PS5 will have to greatly ramp up its support of esports, offering new features and new games that specifically cater to the rapidly growing esports market.
The PS5 Needs to Improve Its Online Streaming
The PlayStation 4 currently supports multiple video game live streaming platforms. For example, users are able to stream gameplay live to YouTube and they can also watch streamed content through YouTube as well. Twitch, the live streaming platform that receives more viewers than CNN and MSNBC, is also supported with players able to view live broadcasts or broadcast their own gameplay to the platform.
However, there are limitations with both YouTube and Twitch on the platform. For example, PS4 players are unable to stream to Twitch and YouTube in 4K, meaning that their viewers miss out on the visual improvements offered by the PS4 Pro. The PlayStation help portal also notes that HDR (high dynamic range imaging) isn't supported either, meaning that again, viewers of the stream don't get the full luster of a PS4 game.
There are already plenty of other most-wanted features for the PS5, including more storage and an improved controller but, if the PS5 is going to properly support esports, then improvements to two of the apps for the biggest esports video platforms is going to be necessary.
Sony Can Create Esports-Specific Games
It is currently unclear just when we can expect a PS5 announcement from Sony but, whenever it arrives, esports fans will be keen to see which games on the console will support a competitive gaming atmosphere. Will Sony create brand new, esports-ified versions of its biggest brands? And will existing games with an esports presence be supported?
One of the biggest PS4 games that already has a strong esports presence is Rocket League, the vehicular-based sports game that hosts the Rocket League Championship Series throughout the year and the Rocket League World Championship. Another game is Overwatch. There are two official Overwatch competitions; the development league known as the Overwatch Contenders and the main professional Overwatch League, which drew in 10 million viewers in its first week. The fact that online bookmaker Betway offers markets on Overwatch tournaments is a testament to esports' precipitous growth over the past few years.
There's also the Call of Duty World League and the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018, which will take place this summer alongside the real-life soccer competition.
These games all have competition baked into their crusts, so to speak, and it will be up to Sony to continue to encourage games like this to come to PS5 as well as creating their own. For example, exclusive PlayStation franchises such as Uncharted and The Last of Us have multiplayer modes so could Sony spin these off into fully fledged esports leagues too?
Not only can Sony support esports games and create them itself; the company can also continue to sign esports-related partnerships. In 2015, there was the surprise announcement that Sony platforms had won Call of Duty DLC exclusivity rights away from Microsoft, meaning that PS4 players would have access to DLC several weeks before any other platform. Call of Duty esports matches are also played on the Sony console.
This is a deal that has surely encouraged many Call of Duty fans to pick up a PS4 and the same could be done if Sony was to foster these sorts of partnerships with the PS5 as well. According to some reports, Sony is in a strong position to create the PS5. While it's not yet known when the console will become available, competitive gaming fans will hope that it will have a strong esports focus.