June 1, 2021
Image: Martin Katler / Unsplash
This week in Protocol Gaming, your weekly guide to the business of video games: Sony presents its roadmap for the future of PlayStation, Ubisoft gets political and Cyberpunk 2077 is still struggling.
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We're six months into the next generation of console hardware, and Sony is riding high. The PlayStation business is doing better than ever with record sales and profit, and the company's new PlayStation 5 console has sold more units since launch, at 7.8 million, than its predecessor did back in 2013, despite severely restricted supply.
But what's different today than with the PS4 launch nearly a decade ago is that hardware sales are no longer the most important metric for judging success. In a pair of presentations released online last week — one a corporate strategy overview, the other an investor day presentation — the company gave us a clear look at where it sees growth for PlayStation and the console business as a whole.
Sony's documents show that hardware is taking a back seat, not just for PlayStation but also the games business overall. The secret, like with so many tech companies today, lies in software and services.
But the PS5 platform is still important to Sony. In fact, it's the foundation for how the company intends to grow its audience and, eventually, migrate that audience to new platforms.
Sony says the future of PlayStation is all about expanding into new territory, beyond the console and into new media formats and device categories.
Sony's vision for PlayStation sounds like a post-console future, in which the console doesn't fade but instead pulls up and amplifies other parts of the business until it's just one of many equitable segments. It is in many ways like Microsoft's roadmap for the Xbox back in 2013, which the company never fully capitalized on due to strategic missteps, messaging failures and its lack of in-house studios.
This time around, it's Sony that wants to remind us that it's not just about video games played on consoles anymore. It's about being at the center of all entertainment, no matter the screen.
A recent report studying voluntary increases to wages by businesses found that when Amazon raised its pay to $15 in 2018, it led to a 4.7% increase in wages for employees at other companies in the same market. The study also found no significant job losses in the community after the wage increase.
On June 10, Square Enix will release an upgraded version of last year's role-playing hit Final Fantasy VII Remake for the PS5, though with a number of headache-inducing qualifiers for those who already own the game. It represents one of the first attempts to try and serve DLC-style content across the PlayStation's two existing console platforms.
Current owners of the game get a free graphical upgrade, but not the update's standalone Yuffie story content. That's sold separately for existing owners, unless you happened to purchase the original game on disc and bought a discless PS5. In that unfortunate case, you're out of luck. The same is true if you claimed the PS Plus version of the game. Confused yet? So are we.
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