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Sony positions the next PlayStation for hardcore gamers



Tokyo-

Sony
Corp.


SNE -0.59%

The next generation PlayStation is more than a year away, but its marketing strategy against newcomers like Google is already clear: Focus on hardcore gamers Sony boss Kenichiro Yoshida has the PlayStation even referred to as a niche product for serious players. "Game creation details are more important than ever," he recently told a company briefing. The company talked about the specifications of the next PlayStation, such as "Ray Tracing," which is used for visual effects such as displaying the play of light on the faces of characters when they move in a room by candlelight.

Once a side project for As Electronics Manufacturers in Tokyo, the PlayStation has become Sony's most important consumer product. In the past fiscal year, the PlayStation unit, which included services such as video game subscriptions, led Sony units with revenues of more than $ 21

billion and operating profits of nearly $ 3 billion.

Which analysts assume that they will be ready for use by the Christmas season of 2020, plays a key role in the forecasting of the company.

The PlayStation 5 – or whatever Sony calls it – will not have the box for itself. Google of Alphabet Inc. is launching a new service called Stadia in November

Apple
Inc.

plans a new video game service in the fall called Apple Arcade. Stadia focuses on games that can be streamed from the cloud and do not require expensive new hardware.

Microsoft
Corp.

has already announced a holiday date for its next generation Xbox 2020.

Sony sees Microsoft as its main competitor in the next generation, with Google posing a potential threat in the medium to long term as internet technology progresses, a company official said.

Nintendo
Co.

is not perceived as a major rival, said the person, as the main users are usually younger than the core demographics of PlayStation.

PlayStation was one of the most successful mass market products of the last quarter century. The PlayStation 4 alone is expected to sell 100 million copies this year. Sony's latest insights weigh less on overall sales than on the most profitable segment: the enthusiastic fans who buy big-budget titles, such as Bethesda Softworks LLC's Fallout series

Take-Two Interactive Software
Inc.

"Red Dead Redemption".

A second colleague from Sony said the company believes people bought a video game console to play graphics-intensive games Sony is concentrating on countering the torrent of free video entertainment on the Internet with a handful of blockbuster franchises such as "Spider-Man." according to executives, big software publishers preparing for the next PlayStation at Sony and software vendors. In general, publishers want their games to maximize revenue across multiple platforms, while console manufacturers try to bid for exclusive content or an initial period of exclusive sales.

Some executives of smaller game makers say they feel rejected by Sony on the Internet, unlike Nintendo. At the Tokyo Game Show in September, Nintendo supports events to introduce independent game developers. Sony used to do the same thing, but it does not plan to do so this year, according to Sony's first representative.

Sony still welcomes games from independent studios, said the first representative of Sony, but the focus has since been on strengthening relationships with major publishers resources are limited. The official assumes that people will buy a console to play high-quality games that are only available on this platform, and not smaller games that are also available on smartphones, traditional consoles. Majd Bakar, Vice President of Engineering at Stadia, told game developers in March, "They are used to cutting back their creative ambitions limited by hardware." However, our vision at Stadia is to scale the processing resources available to your needs.

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Sony says that a powerful home computer will continue to be required to stably run the latest graphics because cloud services rely on sometimes bulky Internet connections. The next PlayStation will be able to handle 8K ultra-high definition graphics, said PlayStation unit chief Jim Ryan in May.

Mr. Yoshida, the Sony CEO, described the fifth-generation PlayStation as "dramatically faster for graphics rendering," saying the change "clearly shows why it makes sense to have a next-generation console."

In-house software studios, which are already producing exclusive PlayStation games, are producing more games for big budgets. Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at the Ace Research Institute, believes that Sony's pressure on high-budget games could reduce the variety and cause some customers to switch to rivals like Nintendo. By contrast, the second Sony official said he expects smaller games to be released even without full Sony support for the PlayStation, as the popularity of the PlayStation makes it difficult for smaller game developers to ignore this platform.

Write to Takashi Mochizuki at takashi.mochizuki@wsj.com


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