Don’t expect to see PS5 hardware yet, and why it doesn’t matter

After postponing their event to “stand back and allow more important voices to be heard,” referencing the Black Lives Matter movement and protests going on around the world, Sony has announced that its PlayStation 5 event will now take place Thursday, June 11.

Scheduled for the same time as the original’s presentation, 1pm PST / 4pm EST, the event is likely to highlight the games we’ll be playing on the new console. No guarantee that the console hardware itself will be revealed has made the rounds yet.

Jim Ryan, President & CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a PlayStation.Blog post:

This digital showcase will run for a bit more than an hour and, for the first time, we will all be together virtually experiencing the excitement together. A lack of physical events has given us an amazing opportunity to think differently and bring you on this journey with us, and hopefully, closer than ever before. This is part of our series of PS5 updates and, rest assured, after next week’s showcase, we will still have much to share with you.

This statement reads to be all about the games rather than console hardware itself, and while we’re definitely anticipating games more than anything else, seeing what the device looks like is also high on our list of priorities.

Knowing that there is still much to be seen after the showcase is good, as the gaming community doesn’t lack any thirst for new gaming details, no matter how small, but it doesn’t bode well for those who are expecting to see at least a rendering of the console.

Perhaps even more telling is Ryan’s statement that, while the company has shared its new DualSense wireless controller, “… what is a launch without games?”

Let’s hope it doesn’t actually look like this.

During the reveal of PlayStation 4 in 2013, a post-reveal event interview with then-CEO Jack Tretton revealed to CNBC that “the most important thing is what comes out of the box, not what it looks like. I can promise you it will be plastic … it will probably be some type of rectangle, but you’ll see the box in due time.” He noted, “What was really important is to show people what the box can do.”

While it would be nice to see the PlayStation 5 hardware, Tretton’s sentiments about not revealing hardware just yet are perhaps just as relevant today as they were seven years ago. Unless the company needs to explain a radical redesign such as Xbox Series X’s vertical tower-like box, a hardware reveal isn’t completely necessary.

In contrast to 2013, however, is that the PlayStation 4 software and technical reveal took place in February, while the box was unveiled in June, about five months before launch, at E3 that same year. With E3 2020 supposed to have been taking place this week, does this mean that Sony is behind schedule? More likely, given the always changing global situation, Sony has many opportunities to host future digital events, likely with one specifically around the hardware and packaging of the console.

All this to say: Sony and Microsoft have taken very different approaches to their console reveals, both from each other, and from the traditional methods to unveil new generations in the past.

Microsoft surprised everyone by showing off Xbox Series X in a trailer at the Game Awards in December, and while Sony has yet to show off the console or launch games, they have over an hour of reveals planned for just a few days from now.

How will this all play out? Which new console reveal playbook will prove to be more successful? Only time will tell.