Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

How the PlayStation became Sony’s centerpiece product.

As it prepares to start selling its fifth major game console in 25 years on Thursday, Sony has largely become the PlayStation company, reports Seth Schiesel.

Mark Cerny, Sony’s architect for the PlayStation 5 and an adviser to the company for decades, said in an interview last week that the involvement of Sony Music executives in the birth of PlayStation was important. It instilled a respect within the game division’s culture for the creative process and was a precursor of the company’s shift toward entertainment.

The second PlayStation, released in 2000, was a hit (and remains the world’s best-selling game console) propelled by Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto III and Sony’s expansion into new geographic markets.

The PlayStation 4, released in 2013, dominated the competition, selling more than twice as many units as Microsoft’s Xbox One. That victory gave Sony the financial breathing room it needed to mount a revival and perhaps become a beacon for the broader Japanese electronics industry.

Sony’s shares are up more than elevenfold since 2012, profits have risen, and the company is still one of Japan’s largest, with about 110,000 employees and a market value around $108 billion.

“Entertainment, led by gaming, is Sony’s new face, the company’s new growth driver,” said Kota Ezawa, a Citigroup analyst in Tokyo. “There has been a clear statement and direct change in direction by Ken Yoshida to move Sony from a traditional electronics business of selling boxes to a business selling entertainment.”

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