A new rumor suggests that the PlayStation 5 will allow users to download and try every game in the PlayStation store for free. If this leak is true, demos will be a requirement for all digital PS5 games.
Demos have been phased out by developers over the course of this console generation, replacing them with limited time trials and multiplayer betas. Many games have taken to YouTube, Twitch, and other websites to get an impression of what a game is like before making a purchase, but that might be changing in the near future. Some game consoles, like the ill-fated Ouya, have attempted to make every game free to try in the past, but a major force in the console space like Sony has never implemented a feature like this before.
According to the leak, the PS5 will ship with a brand new interface for the PlayStation Store, and players will be able to try any game before they buy it. The leak also points out that the game demos will be playable within seconds and that they will not require a download of any kind. Streaming was not mentioned in the leak, but that is presumably how the demos will be delivered if a download is not required, especially with game download sizes skyrocketing over the past few years.
Streaming would allow game trials to be played instantly, and Sony definitely has the infrastructure to support this given the ever-expanding PlayStation Now streaming service. However, no details were provided about what parts of games would be included in the demos. Whether PS5 users will be able to try out the first few minutes of every game or a specific vertical slice of each game remains to be seen. Sony has been keeping PS5 details scarce, only sharing a drip-feed of news over the past few months, and this feature will most likely not be revealed until much closer to the system’s launch if it is indeed real.
If this rumor does end up being real, then it would be a huge win for Sony and give it a head-start for the next console generation. Microsoft has been ramping up the quality of the services provided on Xbox One, and Xbox Game Pass will be a real threat to the PlayStation 5 if Sony does not shape PlayStation Now into a competitive service by the time the Xbox Series X launches later this year. Mandatory demos, especially without downloads, are an excellent idea, but there are several roadblocks that have stopped this from being a requirement on other systems. The streaming infrastructure, at least for short bursts of gameplay, will be able to handle something like this in the next console generation, but licensing and other hassles might stop Sony from achieving this rumored feature.
The PlayStation 5 is planned for release holiday 2020.