Sony Believes That It’s The Decline Of The Generation, And Not The Decline Of Consoles
Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide development studios, has told GamesIndustry that hardware is still capable of innovating the games business–despite the damage done by mobile and free-to-play business models.
It’s no secret that the industry has faced a decline over the past three years, and this is evident by publishers such as THQ being sold off to the highest bidders. THQ’s fate, coupled with declining game sales, has been said to be the ‘beginning of the end’ of the console business. Gamers are expected to move to mobile, PC, and tablet–where free-to-play and value for money bundles dominate.
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While that’s how many people feel, Shuhei Yoshida feels different. Yoshida said, “if we didn’t believe in that we wouldn’t be in this business.”
“It’s not the decline of consoles, it’s the decline of a generation,” he said. “This generation has been the longest on the PS3 and the Xbox, it’s the seventh year. In older times we would have launched a new system already. Really, developers hit the limits after a couple of games on the same system, typically.
“There are a few developers like Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream who are doing more, but that’s kind of the exception. After you see the sequels to the same three games people feel like they’ve seen everything before. That’s natural, but that’s nothing like the end of the consoles.”
Although the PlayStation 3 generation has been long, Sony’s PlayStation 4 life-cycle is expected to be even longer. It was said that the PlayStation 4 will be around for about 10 years, however Sony is not fussed with whether or not this will lead to console fatigue.
“If players are excited that means we are doing something right,” said Yoshida.
“It’s very simple. When you look at the PlayStation 3, it is way, way better than the PS3 that came out in 2007. Because we’re constantly improving and adding content and updates, through firmware or PSN updates. It’s the same with PS Vita with new applications added. It’s a constant evolution of the system even though the hardware remains exactly the same.
“It will be the same with the PlayStation 4,” offered Yoshida. “We are launching this holiday but we already have plans on the roadmap for additional features and improvements on the services side which will constantly evolve with time.
“The key to this on PS4 is we have a huge 8GB of memory. That’s way more than game developers need initially. At the mid-point of the PlayStation 3 lifecycle we really hit the limit of what we can add in terms of system features. The reason we couldn’t add cross-game voice chat that players wanted was we were out of memory. Because we have 8GB of RAM we can secure enough room for whatever great features developers can come up with.”
It seems that Sony’s strategy to keep things fresh will be through cloud gaming, for the entire network. Software updates and enhancements over time will keep the console relevant throughout the period.
Although cloud gaming will not be available at launch, it plays a large part of the console’s future.
“Cloud gaming services are launching next year in the US so PlayStation 4 and Vita users will be able to play PlayStation 3 catalogue games even though there’s no native compatibility on the system itself. That’s just one example of how we can improve the system.
“The PlayStation 4 is just one of the target devices. It’s all about the cloud server. Our team in Gaikai and Sony Japan are working hard to provide the online game services but it doesn’t require the PS4 to enjoy those services. If you’re a PS3 or a PS Vita user you can still enjoy the cloud services. So we’re developing along that schedule, not necessarily trying to tie in with the PlayStation 4 schedule.”