At Sony’s E3 2017 press conference, they focused on previously announced games that are coming out in 2018, new PlayStation VR games, and new third-party games, but there weren’t any huge AAA PlayStation 4 exclusives. Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe President Jim Ryan admitted this fact in an interview with Eurogamer, adding that it just isn’t possible to have a whole slate of new titles each year:
Obviously you’re correct about the announcements. There’s no two ways about that. There were new things announced. There were good things announced. But in terms of major AAA blockbusters, there weren’t any.
In this day and age, the amount of money it takes to make a game and the time it takes to make a game, it’s just not really possible to have dozens of announcements at each show. It’s just logistically not possible. We chose to focus on the games that are going to be coming next year. We didn’t speak much about the 2017 slate. There was very little about GT Sport. There was nothing in the show about our PlayLink initiative, which is something we’re really excited about as we seek to broaden the audience. Games like Everybody’s Golf and Knack 2, we chose not to put them in the conference. There was some stuff featured that will ship this year, but it was mainly stuff for 2018 and conceivably beyond.
The PlayLink initiative starts next month with That’s You, which will be free to PlayStation Plus members (it’s £20 for everyone else). As Ryan added, “As we seek to go now from 50 to 100m PS4s, [the PlayLink Initiative is] the sort of thing we’re going to be doing.”
Discussing Sony’s apparent lack of a big PS4 exclusive this holiday, Ryan said, “Clearly, we have GT Sport coming. Gran Turismo is historically our best-selling franchise, so I guess I’d say it’s not fair.”
If you’re not into Gran Turismo Sport though, Ryan added that there’s plenty of third-party games they’re partnering on, including FIFA 18, Call of Duty: WWII, Destiny 2, and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. When Eurogamer pointed out that none of these are exclusives, Ryan replied, “No, but in many cases there is content that is exclusive to PS4 and that’s an important point of difference for us.”
In Eurogamer’s interview with Xbox boss Phil Spencer, Spencer said “there’s nothing technically that would keep any developer” from making a game look better on Xbox One X than PS4 Pro. Asked if he thinks there will be a big difference between games on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, Ryan looked back to the previous console generation, where many developers didn’t take advantage of the PS3’s extra power:
I’m not going to go into the detail of what’s embedded into individual contracts with publishing partners. What I would do is cast our minds back to the PS3 generation, where we had on paper more impressive specifications than our competition, and in some areas by quite a considerable margin. Now, that didn’t play out the way we had anticipated it would – and this is nothing to do with co-marketing deals, this is just general developer and publisher dynamics. What happened was that developers, maybe at the behest of publishers, developed up to the lowest common denominator and stopped there. And in very few cases took advantage of the additional horsepower of the PS3.
Now, I’m a big believer of learning lessons from history. History doesn’t always repeat itself. But if you’re a publisher of video games, that is a perfectly commercially rational approach for you to take.
As for why he says that, Ryan added, “Because you only do one set of work. You don’t do one set of work to get up to one level and then a different amount of work and consequently may need to go further.”
Asked if Sony is telling publishers to keep the Xbox One X version of games from looking significantly better than the PS4 Pro version, Ryan replied, “Not to my knowledge,” then later added, “I think you’re trying to see some sort of nefarious platform-holder activity where likely none exists.”
Ryan also confirmed that “everything is fine” with Dreams from Media Molecule, and we’ll hear more about it later this year.