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Sony Looking to Make PS5 a Bigger Success Than PS4, Says PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan

Sony Looking to Make PS5 a Bigger Success Than PS4, Says PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 01 November 2020 / 1,201 Views

PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan in an interview with GamesIndustry discussed how the PlayStation 5 could possibly outsell the PlayStation 4, which has shipped nearly 114 million consoles worldwide through the end of September. 

Since the pre-orders went live, every day I open my inbox to some very emotional and heart-wrenching emails from lots of people," Ryan said. "But so many of them are from people in the mid-50s, who say they've been a PlayStation gamer since 1995, and they're asking us to help them get hold of a PS5.

"I am astonished at the number of people who are like that and writing to me. It's really taken me back. It's indicating that demographically the age profile is expanding rapidly with each generation. And at the same time, I get emails from really young gamers, frequently beautifully written... better written often than the 53 year-old gamers. They're just as passionate, just as interested and just as excited by PlayStation as somebody who is old enough to be their father, maybe even their grandfather."

Ryan said that people aging out of the gaming industry might be coming back to playing games now that their kids have grown up and have more free time.

"First of all, I think -- and this is hypothesis -- but maybe some of the 50 year-olds [who emailed me] did tune out for a few years while they were having their kids and growing up, and then came back to us when they had more time and money," Ryan suggests. "A lot of this comes down to the stickiness and tribal nature of the community that we create. That sense of community probably didn't exist to the same extent. It certainly existed, but it was more two mates sitting on a couch playing FIFA together, which by its very definition required a physical proximity, and was therefore harder to organise.

"We have the data to support this -- the networked nature of entertainment these days allows for communities to be massively more sticky, and kind-of homogeneous. The concept of stickiness is that once you're stuck it's hard to unstick. That probably gives us an opportunity to retain those people, where in the past maybe they've gone."

Ryan said to judge the success of a console by the number of consoles sold is outdated as the PS2, later on, was sold for as low as $99 and games were heavily pirated. 

"It's become a lot more nuanced," Ryan said. "For example, one reference point, we sold a lot of PS2s, but many of them were at $99, on a format that was very, very heavily pirated. Right now the metric is engagement, and that obviously can be judged across two axis: the number of people who engage with you, and the amount of time that each of those people spend engaging with you.

"We are increasingly bullish in terms of the number of people that we think may engage with PS5. Firstly, because we don't begin from a standing start like we did with PS4, when we were coming out of a very lacklustre PS3 platform, with a low level of networking across the community. Now we are starting with 100 million gamers, who we hope to transition very, very rapidly onto PS5. And it's an engaged, tribal, networked community, who will be deeply and profoundly engaged with their PlayStation 5, we hope, from a very early moment.

"The second is that the PS5 has been built as a networked device, with features and functionality coming out of the experience from the last six or seven years, designed to give networked gamers a better, richer, deeper, faster, more seamless network gaming experience. I'm sure you've seen the [PS5] UX unveil -- which is very difficult to do remotely, but I think the guys did a pretty good job... All of those adjectives that I used just earlier, they were in mind when we designed that UX."

"A lot of the work that we've done with female protagonists in gaming, we definitely see that resonating and resulting in increased presence of the female demographic within the PlayStation community," he added. "And then there's obviously geography. The PS4 generation saw us make huge strides in Germany and the Middle East, and I think there is further progress to be made in both of those areas. But equally, I think Asia -- outside of Japan -- has huge potential for us. And Latin America has huge potential for us.

"When I was in charge of Europe, we had a pretty clear template for the way that we would open up markets. Some markets opened up faster than others. Germany took some time, but we got there. Middle East, some parts of that were very difficult, but we got there. Having very competent, on-the-ground teams with simple but focused distribution, and proper investment in the brand and proper marketing, can quite quickly yield significant dividends.

"Latin America in particular can be very difficult. Currencies, import tariffs... very complicated geopolitical situations in a lot of countries. I won't pretend that it will be easy, but when you look at the statistics, the maths of it, there are definitely opportunities that we should seek to exploit."

Ryan and the team at PlayStation want to keep the PS4 community happy with the support for the console extending beyond the launch of the PS5.

"Obviously, our eyes and our horizons have lifted with regards to what's possible with that PS4 community, based on what we've observed over the last six months," Ryan said of the COVID-19 lockdowns. "That can be quite powerful, because in 2021, 2022... that PS4 community that we've spoken about, they will be the vast majority of people on PlayStations during that time. It is crucial that we keep them engaged and happy. And the last six months have demonstrated that we could do that to an extent that we didn't think possible when we were setting our minds pre-COVID."

Ryan says over the course of the current-generation they have organically grown their first-party capabilities, but more acquisitions are possible in the future. 

"It's probably not widely appreciated or understood, to what extent that we have grown our own game development capability organically over the course of this generation," he says. "Obviously, it's been helped by the acquisition of Insomniac, and it's wonderful to have them as part of the family. I would just invite anybody to look at the launch window line-up of the PS4 generation, or PS3 generation, and compare it to what we are going to bring in the equivalent phase of PS5. There's just no comparison.

"That is the fruit of not massive spending sprees, but of very, very steadily, carefully planned organic growth. Probably the best example I give... I could obviously talk about Naughty Dog, but they've always been making great games. But let's talk about Ghost of Tsushima, which has been a critical delight and certainly a commercial delight to an extent that we didn't think it would be. That speaks volumes to the work that Sucker Punch has done to build on their previous canon of work.

"We are lucky enough to have five or six studios who fall into that category... But it isn't luck, because we've been working on this for years and years. Very quietly, in a very PlayStation way, we've been building something quite special with these studios. You can do it with frenzied acquisition, or measured acquisition, or you can do it organically."

"It's really exciting now," he concluded. "We are right on the brink. Everybody is four or five years into this, and it's really great to be so close to the big moment. You know, I've done them all, and this has easily been the most extraordinary of any of them."

The PlayStation 5 will launch on November 12 in the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, and in the rest of the world on November 19. 


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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6 Comments

VAMatt (on 29 October 2020)

You're telling me that a company wants its new product to sell better than its old product? That's crazy! What's wrong with this company?!


Hiku (on 29 October 2020)

Not a lot of consoles have reached the numbers of PS4, so that's probably not an easy task. Though it is true that the age demographic for gamers keeps expanding. But so do the alternatives for where people can play games.


Tridrakious (on 29 October 2020)

This is one of the few times that I actually like reading something for Jim Ryan, but also need to point out that I thought the beginning of the interview had some very cringe worthy PR BS in it.


Comments below voting threshold

Poliwrathlord (on 29 October 2020)

Good luck you're gonna need it. Both of your competitors didn't colossally fuck up this time around.


ArchangelMadzz (on 29 October 2020)

Yeah man, the company that sold 100m PS1's, 150m PS2's, 87M ps3'S AND 113M ps4's need luck.


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Runa216 (on 29 October 2020)

What are you even talking about? Hype everywhere, everyone's talking, almost universal praise, an outstanding first year of games coming out, a great new controller, and they're coming off the back of the 2nd most successsful game console of all time. I don't know what metrics you're using to make this hilariously wrong judgement, but you just gave a prime example as to why opinions can be wrong.


  • +2