Sony Interactive Entertainment has the clear lead in this generation of console wars with over 46 million PlayStation 4s in homes around the world. On the heels of launching a new platform with PlayStation VR, Sony is entering the mid-generation battleground first with PlayStation 4 Pro. The PS4 Pro, available November 10 for $400, beats Microsoft’s mid-generation Xbox One (dubbed Project Scorpio) to retail shelves by a full year. With it, Sony is targeting its core gamers, as well as early adopters who have upgraded to 4K HDR TVs.
Inside the console, the PS4 Pro has more than double the GPU power of the standard PS4 and boosted the clock-rate of the CPU. In addition to supporting 4K gaming and high dynamic range (HDR), PS4 Pro will also make some older games look better. Over 50 games will have PS4 Pro enhancements, including Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare 4 Remastered, Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 1 and FIFA 17 and Square Enix’ Rise of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Michael Pachter, video game analyst at Wedbush Securities, believes Sony will sell 2.5 million PS4 Pros this year, which is roughly 30 percent of its overall PS4 sales for the quarter.
Chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Shawn Layden, talks to [a]listdaily about the company’s upgrade to 4K gaming in this exclusive interview.
What does PlayStation 4 Pro open up for PSVR games?
It’s important to say that PSVR is fully compatible and playable with every PlayStation 4 that’s out there on the market today, and being sold through the holidays into next year. PS4 Pro will also support PSVR, but the experience you’re going to have is going to be virtually identical to that you have on a regular PS4. There’s an advantage you get with draw distance and being able to populate the far end of the screen [on PS4 Pro], but your up-close gameplay will be identical.
The video game industry was one reason that high definition TV became mainstream. What role do you see the video game industry playing in getting 4K to become mainstream?
It’s very flattering for you to say that we had such a nice role to play in getting HDTV adoption. I’m not exactly sure if that’s true, [but] I’d love to embrace that if it were. 4K is just an expression of the constant climb of the marketplace for owners to have a greater visual experience, higher fidelity, and higher resolution as the march of time continues on. We want to be able, in the gaming sector, to support those [early adopter] fans as well as those who wish to go to 4K.
Sony also helped usher in the age of the Blu-ray. Why did you leave a 4K Ultra HD player out of the PS4 Pro?
We looked at all the technologies around 4K. We looked at what the current behaviors and uses by PS4 owners in the market are and they got some interesting data back which shows that greater than 90 percent of video viewed on the current PlayStation 4 is streamed. So users are watching Netflix, Hulu, our own PlayStation Vue service and YouTube here in America. We decided that we’re looking at a streaming generation and we made our choices about design to optimize for the best 4K streaming experience.
What synergy opportunities does 4K open up between your interactive division and the consumer electronics division that are trying to sell Bravia 4K TVs?
Here in the Sony family, we do a lot of cooperative activities with our companies in and out of consumer electronics at retail and in the big box stores. That’s where we’ll be together all the time. PS4 Pro’s 4K support will be part of the marketing for both us and the consumer electronics side. We work together with Sony Electronics to help us determine what our mission goals are and how we go to market.
Given the current lead Sony has in the current console space, what drives your direction?
It goes back to our banner headline: a place to play. We want to continue to deliver on that promise. We want to continue where we have the technology available and we can bring out something like PS4 Pro. We want to get it out there into the hands of developers so they can develop content for that technology and bring that to customers worldwide.
Our fan base continues to grow. They keep wanting greater gaming experiences from us. That’s what drives them. It drives me, certainly, at the Worldwide Studios. We’ve got to keep the great games coming to make good on that promise, so that’s what drives us.