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Media & Entertainment

PS5 offers options for 'digital natives,' says CEO of Sony unit

Faster downloads will be key feature, as company pushes online model

Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, speaks during an online interview with Nikkei.

TOKYO -- Sony announced on Thursday details of its next-generation game console, PlayStation 5. The new unit is packed with features and will include new software titles, including a sequel to its megahit, "Marvel's Spider-Man."

"I feel very confident that the PS5 is going to be a success," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said in an interview with Nikkei.

Ryan, who has been involved with the console since 1994 when PS1 launched, notes that PS5 will offer options geared for younger, more digital-savvy gamers, and recognized that more games are being accessed online.

"This is what happened with music, and this is what happened with video, too," Ryan said.

The standard PS5 console also will be available without a disc drive, making it incapable of playing Blu-ray. Instead, users need to go online to get games.

Sony's game business has shifted toward the online model in recent years. Results for the quarter ended in March show that two-thirds of games were downloaded.

Ryan noted the importance of having "an option for people who are just digital natives, who do everything [online] and don't care about discs."

"Our philosophy is one of choices, and that's what we've done," he said.

The company also unveiled 28 game titles for PS5, more than half of which can only be played on the PS5 at the time of release. Nine of the titles were from Sony's own studios while the rest were from partners.

Ryan implied that there will be more to come, saying that "less than half of our worldwide studios were represented [in this announcement], so we have great studios that have yet to disclose their PS5 work." Its current game console, PS4, has over 4,000 titles.

Regarding concerns over its supply chain and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Ryan said plans remain the same, with the launch scheduled for the year-end holiday season. He added that although the virus makes things more complicated, with more people working from home, "we have been pleasantly surprised at the ingenuity, the hard work and the perseverance of our staff around the world."

Meanwhile, Ryan pointed out that demand for games has jumped in the wake of the pandemic and city lockdowns. "We definitely have seen engagement on our platform increase, and we've seen PlayStation Plus subscriptions increase," he said.

PlayStation Plus -- Sony's online streaming service that allows users to access online multiplayer games -- has amassed over 40 million subscribers. "The subscription model has an increasingly important position in the gaming industry," Ryan said. "We can definitely say that those subscription services will continue to grow. We like them from a business perspective and it's clear that the PlayStation community likes them too."

Ryan kept mum on the price point for PS5, which many fans are dying to know, but noted that "we are very focused on providing the best overall value proposition to PlayStation gamers."

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