PlayStation 2021: Sony battles PS5 stock issues and its own stance on generations

2021 has been a mixed bag for PlayStation. Following the hype around the PS5’s launch in 2020, this year has been considerably quieter, the calm after a raging storm – and that’s not necessarily been a good thing.

While PS5 exclusives like Returnal and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart showcased how powerful the latest PlayStation console is, ongoing PS5 stock issues created an obstacle for people to experience the next-generation console, and delays of big-name titles like Horizon Forbidden West left a noticeable gap in the PlayStation’s first-party lineup this year. What’s more, Sony’s U-turn on PS5 exclusives has left us wondering whether the company really does “believe in generations” as Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan previously stated.

After the whirlwind that was last year, PlayStation’s 2021 has felt a bit stale, but it looks like 2022 could see that change.

A quiet year

Returnal

(Image credit: Sony)

While the PS5’s launch was a bit light in terms of exclusives, we started to see developers harness the power of Sony’s new hardware with exclusive games such as Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Deathloop and Returnal in 2021. But it wasn’t just new PlayStation games that benefited from the PS5’s capabilities this year, we also saw PS4 games like Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima getting a PS5 upgrade – making them run and look better than ever before.

However, the ripples of the Covid-19 pandemic continued to be felt by the gaming industry this year, with several PS5 games due to release in 2021, like God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7, delayed until 2022.

The absence of these titles was felt in the PS5’s first year. But where Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service filled the void of delays and releases, the inadequacy of Sony’s PS Now service was highlighted as a result. Sure, PS Plus continues to offer an excellent lineup of games, including one PS5 game, each month, but Sony needs its own ‘Netflix for gaming’ to stay relevant (and accessible) in a changing landscape. And, if a Bloomberg report from earlier this month is anything to go by, that’s exactly what it’s working on.

But a new subscription service isn’t the only thing to be excited about in PlayStation’s future. The PlayStation Showcase on September 9 saw the announcement of several upcoming PS5 games to tantalize PlayStation fans, including Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Marvel’s Wolverine and a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake. While these games are a few years out from release, they certainly make owning a PS5 a more enticing proposition.

Taking stock in generations

Someone holding a PS5 DualSense Controller

(Image credit: ff)

While the PS5 increasingly found its feet in 2021, stock issues continue to plague both Sony and players alike. In the year since the PlayStation 5 launched, getting your hands on one remains a challenge, with any rare stock being snatched up within minutes.

These supply issues have been an obstacle for those who are keen to upgrade to the next-generation PlayStation, and have likely been the reason behind’s Sony’s U-turn on PS5 exclusives.

Throughout 2020, Sony made it clear that those who picked up a PS5 upon release would have access to exclusives not available on PS4. "We have always said that we believe in generations," Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz in May 2020. But since that interview, Sony’s tune has changed. In June 2021, news broke that God of War Ragnarok, Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon Forbidden West would also be coming to PS4. 

Sony’s reversal faced some backlash, as the console that was once touted as being the only place to play these highly anticipated titles…wasn’t. For now, Sony’s approach appears to be cross-generational while PS5 stock remains an issue. But, as we look to upcoming PS5-exclusive titles, the belief in distinct generations may become relevant again.

A brighter future

The official Galaxy themed Sony PS5 console faceplates against a starry background

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony’s approach to ushering players into the new generation remains somewhat unclear – and a bit out of touch compared to Microsoft. It’s resulted in a year that’s been a bit uncertain, and quieter than expected, for PlayStation owners.

That said, while things are a little stale at the moment, the future looks bright for PlayStation. Nex year will hopefully see supply chains recovering, meaning those who want to get their hands on a PS5 should be able to, and we’re hoping that rumors of an Xbox Game Pass competitor come to fruition. Additionally, the likely release of PSVR 2, which was confirmed in early 2021, and a plethora of highly anticipated titles, and PlayStation’s 2022 could look considerably more exciting for gamers.

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