Sony's chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida recently spoke to the Financial Times about the company's hardships and PlayStation's value to the company. Among his revelations was the existence of next-generation hardware, though he didn't say PS5.
Mr. Yoshida spoke about Sony needing to become "more collaborative"; although this is likely a statement about internal structures it is an interesting point of view to consider in light of PlayStation's recent about-turn on cross-platform collaboration.
The PlayStation brand currently accounts for 23% of Sony's revenue, making it the largest single branch of the company by a significant margin. Therefore it will be crucial for PlayStation to thrive in the next generation if the company is going to survive. While it seems certain that Sony will have to relinquish some of its old-fashioned views on the importance of hardware over services, the next generation will apparently include some sort of hardware. Mr Yoshida told the Financial Times that "At this point, what I can say is it’s necessary to have a next-generation hardware". When asked, Mr. Yoshida declined to name that hardware PlayStation 5.
Of course, we can hardly expect Sony's CEO to drop the name of the company's next biggest product in the middle of an interview, so this reluctance to name the console "PlayStation 5" in public is far from a admission that the machine will be called something else. However, Sony appears to be rethinking a lot of aspects of their business internally, likely in response to competitors shifting their perspective on hardware — just look at Microsoft's XCloud plans and Google's game-streaming beta test with Assassin's Creed Odyssey. It might be that the next PlayStation is so conceptually innovative that the iterative moniker no longer suits the machine.
Five months ago, the Head of PlayStation Business made comments which suggested next-generation hardware might not appear until 2021. However with Sony's competitors openly discussing the next generation like it's just around the corner, it may be that PlayStation will adjust their schedule.
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