Sony Interactive Entertainment boss Jim Ryan has said he’s frustrated at how PlayStation’s first-party games are ‘gated’ to their current console model audience of tens of millions of players.
Speaking in a keynote during GI Live: London, the PlayStation boss said he aspired to reach hundreds of millions of players and rival the reach of movies and music.
“I hope that PlayStation 5, and I really believe the PlayStation 5 will be Sony’s biggest and best and most loved PlayStation yet. I hope that will happen,” Ryan said when asked about his hopes for the future.
“I would also like to see a world where the games that we make at PlayStation can be enjoyed by many tens of millions of people. Perhaps hundreds of millions of people. Right now success with the current console model, a really great PlayStation hit you’re talking ten or 20 million people being able to play that game.”
He continued: “We’re talking about games stacking up against music, we’re talking about games stacking up against movies. Music and movies, they can be enjoyed by almost limitless audiences. And I think some of the art that our studios are making is some of the finest entertainment that has been made anywhere in the world.
“And to kind-of gate the audience for the wonderful art, wonderful entertainment that our studios are making… to gate the audience for that at 20 or 30 million frustrates me. I would love to see a world where hundreds of millions of people can enjoy those games.”
Ryan’s comments are surprising considering Sony’s publicly stated commitment to console exclusives. In the past year, it has softened its approach to PC, with some notable games having already been released on PC and more planned, but it’s also heavily suggested this will be limited to back catalogue titles.
PlayStation is also not pushing streaming as heavily as its console competitor Microsoft, which allows its users to play Xbox games streamed to mobile devices, PC or older consoles via the cloud.
The company hasn’t released many mobile games either, though Ryan has said that PlayStation is planning to bring some of its “iconic IP” to mobile during its current business year ending in March 2022.
Speaking to VGC following the GI Live: London session, journalist Christopher Dring – the man who interviewed Jim Ryan – said he was also intrigued by the exec’s comments and speculated that it could signal an increase in PC releases in the future.
“Our chat with Jim Ryan this week was about his time working with Sony, to give a flavour of who the person is running PlayStation. It was a different kind-of interview, but there were a few little interesting insights into what might come next,” he said.
“I too was interested by his comments at the end about turning a hit PlayStation game from being a 20 or 30 million seller, to something that could potentially reach 100 million. His comments aren’t actually dissimilar to what a lot of games bosses are talking about today. Xbox is also eager to reach the next billion gamers.
“The question is how are they going to do it? With Microsoft, there’s a lot of focus on subscriptions and streaming. PlayStation is doing those things too, but are more focused on selling consoles and pushing into new markets. Both are also releasing more games on PC in an effort to reach more fans, and are enjoying a lot of success through that.
“Making games more accessible and inclusive, in every sense of those words, may prove to be something that defines this generation. That will likely mean different games, it might mean boosting up PS Now or PS Plus. It could mean bringing more titles to PC.
“We shall have to wait and see how that will manifest itself, and I look forward to talking to the Sony team again on how it plans to turn future games into something that can do the sort-of numbers that Jim is hoping to one day hit.”
Speaking in a PlayStation Blog interview published in June, PlayStation Studios head Herman Hulst said the platform holder was “still early on in our planning for PC” but that its PlayStation consoles would always be the priority for new releases.
For several years Microsoft has released its Xbox Games Studios titles simultaneously on PC and console platforms.
This summer Xbox boss Phil Spencer criticised PlayStation’s PC release strategy in a rare dig at the rival platform holder.
Speaking during a briefing for media and analysts, the exec criticised “others” who bring console games to PC, stating that they were releasing PC versions “years later” and “charging [players] a second time”.
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