It’s really cool to know that Sony’s PlayStation has been going strong for 20 years now. It does sort of make me feel old because I remember when I got my hands on the original PlayStation console and now here I am, all those years later, playing on my PS4. But Shuhei Yoshida revealed some of his thoughts about how the company will continue to grow and prosper for the coming 20 years.
Speaking to Eurogamer, he was asked where he imagines PlayStation will be in 20 years, and I love the honesty of his answer:
That’s almost impossible to answer! Because, like Michael Pachter saying console is dead, or this is the last console generation, I feel we’ve been fighting against obsolescence. Even when PS4 is doing well, you might look at the sales, the fast pace of PS4 sales, we may be just selling to the same people faster, right! That’s a sad view of things, but it could be the case. We have to continue to work hard to really bring back people who used to play console games before PS2 era, or find new people to provide great experiences, that people who never had their own consoles might find useful for their lives. For that, actually, PlayStation VR has broader applications than the games, and demos we’ve been doing, the very first demo we provided was The Deep. It has no gameplay at all. Anyone can enjoy it. Of course there’s a challenge of pricing and whatnot, but in the future we position PlayStation VR not as a peripheral to VR, but as a virtual reality system that makes use of PS4. We’re hoping in the future that people might pick up PlayStation VR and PS4 not only for the games, but for other entertainment usage.[…] Every time there’s a new threat, like PC was before, now it’s mobile, look at the Japanese market which has the heaviest impact. When you look at the video game market in Japan, it’s going like crazy because of mobile is huge. What mobile is doing is making more people play games. Lots of people who play games on mobile because it’s free and it’s there. There maybe some other people who might find playing games itself is a fun thing, and those people might be converted to play games on console. The real issue is, we look at things positively in terms of fast sales of PS4. We continue to try to push to reach an even broader audience.
I think that’s the core of what has made PlayStation successful, and what will continue to make them so. Each generation, they have grabbed a different kind of gaming audience. Of course the PS2 was the most successful by a ridiculous margin thus far, but the PS4 is doing rather well thus far. I still think we could see the PS4 overtaking the PS2’s popularity by the end of the generation – people are just more willing to dish out cash for technology than they were in previous decades.
I want Virtual Reality, but I’m not sure that I see it being the commercial success that everyone is counting on. It’s such a niche experience, I just can’t imagine tons of people buying into it unless they’re already hardcore gamers, and we already know that it’s the more casual market who actually need to buy into something for it to be profitable.
I’m also curious how the first-party support side will continue at Sony. As a sidetone to the success of the PS4, Shuhei Yoshida made an interesting observation about how it impacts the software side of things:
Typically – it’s ironic in a sense, when a platform’s doing really well, studio side kind of struggles. It probably has some relationship to these two things. When a platform’s doing well, third-parties support it more. So from a pure software standpoint, there’ll be more competition. When the platform’s not doing so well, our games become more prominent, and we get larger market share within the same platform. Because we continue to support the PS3, in the launch year of the PS4 we had The Last of Us and Gran Turismo 6 and Beyond and so on, many games, we were still working hard. We’re just head-down, focussed on delivering the games for the near future. We’re happy with how it’s going, and we’re excited about welcoming PlayStation VR. From a delivering games standpoint, we have work to do. People constantly ask us for the big exclusive triple-A games.
I find this rather intriguing. With so many games wanting to be on the most popular platform, PS4 owners are sort of spoiled for choice. I wonder if this could mean that we see a surge in Xbox’s first party support and those software companies growing as a result. It’s a balancing act that I hadn’t considered before, and definitely has an interesting impact on the industry at large.
I don’t even want to think about which games I’ll be playing on what platform in 20 years. Considering the way games fall into development hell, it will probably be Final Fantasy XX and some other new, innovative and iconic open-world sandbox VR game from Ubisoft.
Last Updated: October 1, 2015