After 3 years and nearly 40 million PS5 consoles sold, where are the new games?

PS5 with PlayStation Studios in the background
(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 continues to be a triumph for Sony with the harrowing console shortage now firmly behind the Japanese hardware giant. In 2023, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on the system, but is it worth buying one purely for exclusives? I don’t think so yet. 

The PS5 has now sold just shy of 40 million units according to Sony’s latest earnings release. A total of 38.4 million machines are now in the homes of gamers across the globe which is a very impressive figure. I’ve had a PS5 for a couple of years now, buying the console to play the excellent Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut in its full glory. But since then, I struggle to recommend the system to newcomers who already own a decent gaming PC. 

It should go without saying that the PS5 is one of the best gaming consoles around. It’s capable of pumping out 4K visuals at playable framerates ranging from 30 to 120fps depending on the graphical settings. So far it’s been a console generation of compromise; you can either go for visual fidelity (often with ray tracing) at 30fps, or scale back the graphics for a higher framerate. Even with all that’s under the hood, many of the best PS5 games are experiences that you can get on other platforms. 

While there are exceptions like God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Ghost of Tsushima, games that would’ve been the PS5’s killer apps have made the jump to PC and have been superior versions. You only need to look as far as God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn, both of which are thriving on digital outlets like Steam. Even when a port hasn’t been as fuss-free as it was on PS5, such as The Last of Us: Part 1, the fact that it showed up so early onto the medium with the bigger install base further drives the point that the PS5 isn’t the catch-all for compelling exclusive games.  

The price of going multi-platform 

The Last of Us Part 1 multiplayer - Ellie and Joel hold weapons and keep watch

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

As someone who owns a gaming PC and a gaming laptop, I’ve been stuck for reasons to rush out and buy a digital or physical copy of Sony’s next big franchise, because sooner or later it’ll show up on PC. The one saving grace of gaming on the PS5 is PS Plus’ Game Catalog. Much like Xbox Game Pass, it offers a vast digital game library for the cost of a monthly subscription.

It’s meant that I’ve essentially been treating my PS5 as a purely digital machine despite it having a disc drive, and I haven’t bought a game for it in the better part of a year because I’ve had no incentive to.

This isn’t purely an issue on Sony’s part, as Microsoft has a similar issue with a lack of compelling software on the Xbox Series X, too. Everything that’s on the current generation of Xbox hardware is available on PC, usually on the same day or following shortly afterward. It’s why I still don’t own an Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S despite the fact that they’ve been readily available to me for over a year now. There’s no reason to rush out and buy one when my mid-range computer can match all it offers. 

First party support 

PlayStation Studios

(Image credit: Sony)

Where Sony earns more of my ire with this issue is the fact that PlayStation Studios produces some truly excellent experiences, it’s just not been enough for me to consider picking up the DualSense when something new drops as opposed to the keyboard and mouse. Backwards compatibility with the PS4 feels more like a crutch for the console and less like a nice-to-have as it’s been with previous console generations. That’s because there are tons of the best PS4 games available on PS Plus, but only a fraction of that for the successor system. 

The solution to this problem is complex. On one hand, I’m thrilled that more people are able to experience all-star franchises like God of War, The Last of Us, and Horizon outside of PlayStation hardware. On the other, I’m torn; because if everything leaves PS5 (and usually looks and runs better when it does), what exactly is the big reason to own the console? 

Three years in and I’m still not sold despite the system’s success. At a time when we’re arguing that this console generation isn’t even next-gen, and that the Xbox Series X and PS5 are being held back by previous-gen, I’m struggling to see evidence of a shining success.

Aleksha McLoughlin
Hardware Editor

Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.