Today Business Insider Japan published an interview with Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan, who talked about the upcoming PS5 and more.
Ryan mentions that there will be a huge number of PS4 users at the time of the switch between PS4 and PS5 as Sony’s flagship console. This is very important, and Sony has a responsibility toward these existing users. On the other hand, they also need to come up with a new appeal for PS5. He believes that this year will be special and more difficult than other console launches.
Of course, an element behind this awareness is the number of monthly active users revealed at Sony’s CES 2020 conference, which is 103 million compared to 106 million consoles sold-through.
Ryan mentions that hardware sales are still a relevant guideline, but MAU are also important because they indicated engagement and the health of the platform. MAU have been used widely in the mobile gaming field, and Sony has learned from that.
He also explains the reason for having a paid service like PlayStation Plus, mentioning that introducing it was important from a management perspective. This is a business that includes large swings due to the presence or absence of hit games, and this introduces stability.
A business including paid service is completely different from one based on traditional game sales. Sony Interactive Entertainment has changed a lot in terms of organization and mindset, and it’s still changing.
Ryan then goes on to explain that with every new console the hardware gets better, which is appealing, but something special is also needed.
In the PS5’s case, he talks about the already-revealed SSD and haptic-enabled controller, then he mentions (while laughing, as indicated in the original interview) that PS5 has more than just that. There are still unique elements different from conventional game consoles. A “much bigger difference” has not been announced yet.
Do keep in mind that Japanese does not distinguish between singular and plural, so we don’t know whether Ryan is talking about one difference or multiple. The context and wording could suggest that he’s teasing one specific difference, but this is just my interpretation, especially considering that he was likely talking in English with a Japanse translation on top. The fact that he mentioned that while laughing is also possibly relevant, even if it’s hard to say what he really means.