With the announcement that the PlayStation Vita would no longer be seeing any new physical releases after its current scheduled titles hit store shelves — and the attendant understanding that this also signified the death of the underperforming handheld console – coming just this week past, it would seem that Sony is having to have tough talks with industry insiders about where to go next.
At a recent investor’s meeting led by Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, the company made it clear that profitability was not a concern despite facing some challenges with the PlayStation VR market as well as an aging console generation facing cutting edge PC hardware, a gulf that even the PS4 Pro does not seem quite equipped to bridge. Yoshida’s presentation included a target for 2021 of between 130 billion and 180 billion yen – or what amounts to $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion – which was mostly centered around the cultivation of a growing online gaming culture and the paid subscriptions necessary to take part.
Of particular interest to investors and analysts alike was talk surrounding the hottest metric in gaming right now, MAUs or monthly average users. The unspoken questions might read something like: how many eyes are watching the screen and for how long? How can we monetize our software and hardware catalogs?
It is clear that for Sony’s gaming division, the future is online.
Also taking the stage during the presentation was Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera, who elaborated on the plan to capture more PSN subscribers. Increasing the visual appeal of the PSN dashboard and improving latency and hardware infrastructure would be of course key, but Kodera focused on speaking to core Sony strengths with regards to its PlayStation brand – cool exclusives (God of War, Gran Turismo, Horizon: Zero Dawn just to name a few heavy-hitters) and a growing online community.
Kodera also made it plain: it was Sony’s belief that the PlayStation 4 was reaching the end of its life-cycle, GamesIndustry.biz reports. They would be “crouching down” during the interim between 2018 and 2021, focusing on the primary goals of producing great new IPs and revitalizing existing franchises. It is somewhat unlikely that Sony would consider going without introducing a new PlayStation model before 2021.
With major competitor Nintendo doing gangbusters business with their Switch home and mobile console and Microsoft’s Xbox taking a sizable chunk of their cramped market space, SIE is drilling down on a proven track record of success that got them, and the PS4, to the top of the hardcore gaming heap. Has it come so far in five years only to become obsolete a mere year after launching the 4k-ready Pro model? Can Crash Bandicoot (Sony’s first-ever mascot at their premiere E3 appearance in 1996) topple Mario, Link, Samus, and Sonic?
Only time will tell.