Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida explained the Japanese company’s plans in video games during a speech at Sony business strategy meetings regarding its report on year-end results. In this speech last night, he noted that the company will invest heavily in first-party games to PlayStation 5 which offer immersive and fluid experiences to players.
This means players don’t have to worry about whether Sony will continue to invest in big exclusives like The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima for the PS5, which launches during the holidays. But Yoshida said the future of Sony’s game goes beyond what players can do on their couch playing with the latest Sony hardware. It is also trying to reach more people through cloud games, remote games and mobile experiences.
What’s interesting to me is that Sony is thinking more about games, and it’s not just focusing on the PS5 for its future. We have known this for some time, but it is instructive to see it reinforced by the relatively recent CEO of Sony, who took the helm two years ago and does not speak often.
During the year ended March 31, Sony reported $ 21.34 billion in revenue for its games division, with $ 2.87 billion in operating profit. The PlayStation 4 has reached 100 million units sold to date and 94 million monthly active users for its PlayStation Network online gaming service. It also has 41.5 million PlayStation Plus subscribers. It’s the heart of Sony’s user base and it’s what made Sony the second largest video game market in the world, behind the Chinese Tencent.
Immersive and transparent
Sony PS5 will have significantly better computing performance, measured in teraflops, compared to PS4, said Yoshida. And he also touted the SSD, which is faster than a hard drive and will allow Sony to create games a hundred times faster than the previous generation.
This will immerse players in huge worlds with smooth transitions from one scene to the next, and long load times should be a thing of the past. Sony is also investing more in a haptic game controller that gives you more tactile feedback, as well as 3D sound so you can feel what’s going on around you in a virtual world.
He said PS5 programming will be announced soon. The main force of Sony’s activity will come from sales of games for PS4 and PS5 to come. And that provides the basic revenue from Sony’s gaming business. But Sony doesn’t stop with its traditional console business.
Beyond the PS5
Yoshida also said that users will be able to take games purchased on disc or over the network for TV use and play them anytime, anywhere. He attributed the improved experience to better smartphones, better networks such as upcoming 5G networks, and new gaming services.
The main services here are remote gaming, which uses a PS4 console in your home as a server that streams games to other devices, and PlayStation Now, a cloud gaming service that lets you play games that you have not downloaded and on which you are broadcasting your PS4.
Remote play has been around since 2006, while PlayStation Now has its roots in 2012 with the Gaikai acquisition, which developed game streaming and compression technology. Sony launched PlayStation Now as a service in 2014.
Remote play streams games on the PS4 via Wi-Fi to any room in the house, using the PS4 as a game server. It has worked in the past with PC smartphones and Sony Xperia, but in March Sony added iOS to reach a larger user base. Yoshida said Remote Play will also be extended to Android smartphones. The PS5 will also support remote playback. The use of Remote Play increased by 2.5 times between December 2018 and December 2019.
PlayStation Now has been slow to take off, but Yoshida said it hit a record 2.2 million subscribers in the last quarter, up from a million a year ago. It has undoubtedly increased in part due to the accommodation conditions at home which have contributed to the demand for all matches. The point of sale of PlayStation Now is its ability to allow players to discover new games by testing new titles with a single subscription.
“Over the past five years, we have verified that players see the value of the service, and we have accumulated technologies and patents to minimize latency,” said Yoshida.
He said Sony would add more games, including triple-A titles, to the service, and make it available via 5G technology. Sony has teamed up with Microsoft on game streaming technology because it can leverage Microsoft’s huge investment in data centers and its Azure cloud service to run cloud game services.
Finally, Yoshida said the company will continue to invest in mobile games, which have become the bulk of the gaming industry, via developers Aniplex and ForwardWorks.
This means that Sony embraces all of the games, capable of competing with Google Stadia and Microsoft XCloud project. And Sony doesn’t put all of its eggs in the PS5 basket. Again, we knew that. But it’s good to see that the new Sony CEO talks about it as a way of saying “We don’t forget all the other things we are doing to broaden the games market more broadly.”