Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, isn't writing off the PlayStation 4 just because its successor is on the way. In a new interview, Ryan says Sony sees serving PS4 owners well after the PS5's launch is both a "responsibility" and "an opportunity," especially in the wake of increased console sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with BBC News regarding Sony's upcoming PS5 games showcase, Ryan addresses how Sony's planning around the transition from current to next-gen consoles. Previously, Ryan said Sony hoped to transition the PS4's community to PS5 "at a scale and pace that [Sony's] never delivered on before." Now, after a few months of global stay-at-home orders, Ryan appears to be taking a more open-minded and conservative stance.
"If we've got 100 million PS4 owners now, the majority of those will not buy a PS5 for a couple of years," Ryan tells the BBC. "It's our responsibility and it's an opportunity to keep serving them great gaming content and keep them happy. I think the events the last two months, have really just focused on mind and open our eyes to just how real that opportunity is. [sic]"
Sony recently reported that PS4 console sales "are trending well" despite a year-over-year decrease. In many regions around the globe, console sales spiked dramatically as stay-at-home orders went into effect. With players new and old using their consoles more during the pandemic, and with a lengthy global recession becoming a near-certainty, Sony has good reason to not leave PS4 owners in the lurch.
Ryan also tells our sister site GamesIndustry.biz that Sony plans to meet a potential economic downturn during the PS5's launch by "providing the best possible value proposition," though he adds that doesn't guarantee the lowest price. Cross-gen development doesn't appear to be part of the transition plan—Ryan says Sony thinks "it is time to give the PlayStation community something [...] that can really only be enjoyed on PS5."
It's anyone's guess as to how Sony hopes to please PS4 owners who aren't ready to upgrade once Holiday 2020 comes and goes. The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, which seem to be Sony's last major releases for the console, are set to launch in the next two months. Notable upcoming third-party releases, such as Assassin's Creed Valhalla, are coming to both current and next-gen consoles, granted. Still, even with Microsoft championing cross-gen development for Xbox titles for the next couple years, many are left wondering if such an approach could negatively impact the quality of the games in question.
With the PS4, the second highest selling console of all time, Sony has a huge install base it can serve regardless of the PS5's initial reception. That route hinges on whether it has planned accordingly, or devoted too much to next-gen. On June 4 we'll finally get our first look at games coming to the PS5, along with a better idea of whether Sony's new console will actually convince folks to upgrade en masse.