How Does Sony Bring PlayStation Games To 'Hundreds Of Millions' Of Players, Exactly? – Forbes

The Last of Us Part 2
This week, Jim Ryan talked about the limits of the current PlayStation ecosystem, and how he ideally wants to see PlayStation IPs reach a much wider portion of the world’s population. Here’s the quote in question from his interview:
“I would also like to see a world where the games that we make at PlayStation can be enjoyed by many tens of millions of people. Perhaps hundreds of millions of people. Right now success with the current console model, a really great PlayStation hit you’re talking ten or 20 million people being able to play that game.
“We’re talking about games stacking up against music, we’re talking about games stacking up against movies. Music and movies, they can be enjoyed by almost limitless audiences. And I think some of the art that our studios are making is some of the finest entertainment that has been made anywhere in the world. And to kind-of gate the audience for the wonderful art, wonderful entertainment that our studios are making… to gate the audience for that at 20 or 30 million frustrates me. I would love to see a world where hundreds of millions of people can enjoy those games.”
The point Ryan appears to be making is that by definition, even with a massively successful console, you hit a hard ceiling when it comes to the total number of people playing a certain game or series. For instance, you could sell 100 million PS5s, and then 30 million copies of God of War, a stellar 30% attach rate, but that’s…your cap. That’s it.
But this leads to the question of…what exactly is Jim Ryan suggesting here? How does Sony plan to bring its games to hundreds of millions of people to compete with movies, music, TV and the opposite brand that is not spoken of here, Xbox, which has embraced cloud gaming and PC ports?
God of War
There are a few potential options here, but ones that Sony does not really seem to have made many significant strides towards so far.
Cloud Gaming – This is the most obvious one, and something many believe is the future of gaming. But unlike Amazon, Google and Microsoft, Sony itself does not have the ecosystem to make this happen, which would require them to partner with someone else. And they’ve done so to some extent already with…Microsoft, their supposed rival. But using someone else’s tech means cloud gaming may less profitable for them in general.
PC Releases – This would be another Microsoft-like move, releasing a copy of your game on PC as soon as you release it on console. Again, this makes more sense for Microsoft because it’s a company also heavily invested in the PC market, but Sony is incredibly slow to embrace this trend, only bringing its games to PC years later, and forcing players to re-buy them as opposed to Microsoft offering two copies of the game at launch, simultaneously. And yet this is a way forward, given that putting your game on PC does indeed mean hundreds of millions of players would theoretically have access to it, anyone with a PC of appropriate specs.
Game…Pass? – This one sounds bizarre but in this world of megacorp wheeling and dealing, never say never. In some universe, Microsoft could pay Sony a trillion dollars to release its games on Xbox Game Pass. This would effectively turn Sony in a game publisher more than a console manufacturer, as then what would be the real benefit of buying a PlayStation over an Xbox? But again, Sony does not have the ins in the cloud space Microsoft does, and would need a partner. This may be an absurd idea on its face, but if this is Sony’s goal, they really do not have a ton of options besides what’s listed above, or selling 500 million PS5s, which simply isn’t going to happen.
I’m not even sure Jim Ryan is necessarily correct, however. I think you can have an impact with your games and IPs even within a relatively closed ecosystems. Nintendo has been doing this for thirty years, and only recently just started putting some of its IPs on mobile. But Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, these are global brands that haven’t needed cloud gaming or PC releases to have a wide reach.
Anyway, we’ll see what Sony’s next moves are, but if this is really their goal, it seems like cloud gaming or PC releases are the only way to get past the hard console cap Jim Ryan seems frustrated with.
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I’ve been writing about video games, television and movies for Forbes for over 10 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. I cover all

I’ve been writing about video games, television and movies for Forbes for over 10 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. I cover all manner of console and PC games, but if it’s about looting or shooting, I’m definitely there. If I’m watching something, it’s usually science fiction, horror or superheroic. I’m also a regular on IGN’s Fireteam Chat podcast and have published five sci-fi novels.