PlayStation’s Jim Ryan on PS5 pricing, next-gen exclusivity, pandemic uncertainty and PS4’s continuing lifespan

With the release date and pricing of PS5 now announced, Microsoft and Sony are now engaged in an interesting contest, trying to sell the advantages of not two but four different devices.

Speaking to the Washington Post, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan was clear on Sony’s approach to its dual console strategy.

“We want to give gamers clarity, we want to give them certainty,” Ryan said. “We want to future proof them so that they know the console they buy will be relevant in several years time. It’s a considerable capital outlay, and we want to make sure people know they are buying a true next-generation console.”

That could be read as a snub aimed at Microsoft’s lower-specced Xbox Series S. And even if not it clearly demonstrates the difference between Microsoft’s two-tier strategy to console GPUs, compared to PlayStation’s simpler division between its two devices. 

Those devices have been selling out at pre-order over the last twelve hours. It’s hard to know what allocations retailers have, and what more will come pre-launch, but Ryan did say that Sony would have more PS5s for sale at launch than PS4s back in 2013. 

And despite media conjecture that Sony and Microsoft were waiting for the other to announce their price first, Ryan told the Post that pricing had been set “quite early this year” and that it always planned to offer the Digital Edition PlayStation at the same price as the PS4. 

Which makes an awful lot of sense and in hindsight maybe drove the entire strategy from PlayStation, with the whole spec and the digital edition specifically all designed to recreate that success.  

Ryan also discusses how the pandemic had created massive uncertainty for Sony.

“For quite some time, in the early part of covid, that picture was far from clear,” Ryan said. “Just as the supply things was unclear, would there be any market? Would anyone be allowed to go outside? Would any shops be open? This has been a year like no other. But all of that just reinforced our resolve, and the path we determined at the start of the year was absolutely the right one.”

The PlayStation chief also commented on the surprising news that titles such Horizon Forbidden West would be coming to PS4 as well, having been presumed to be PS5 exclusives. 

“No one should be disappointed,” Ryan said. “The PS5 versions of those games are built from the ground up to take advantage of the PS5 feature set, and we have an upgrade path for PS4 users to get the PS5 versions for free. It’s about people having choice. I’m really quite pleased about the situation.”

And he backed that up by noting that the PlayStation 4 likely still have four more years of life in it. 

“The PS4 community will continue to be incredibly important to us for three or four years,” Ryan said. “Many will transition to PS5, we hope if we do our job well, but tens of millions will still be engaged with the PS4.”

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