There’s no denying that the games industry has been moving its way towards a predominantly digital future. For better or worse, both game publishers and console manufacturers have been going all-in on purely digital services and hardware. With that in mind, many are unsure as to whether or not the upcoming batch of consoles will be the last “traditional” ones. In fact, there’s a fairly high-profile name who appears to be just as unsure: PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan.
In an interview with CNET, Ryan was asked point blank whether the (still unnamed) upcoming PlayStation console will be the Sony’s last. Quite frankly his response was, “I actually don’t know.”
With an industry that’s as unpredictable as video games, it truly can be impossible to see what the future is like. People widely predicted that the PlayStation 4 would be the end of the console as we know it, but with 96 million units shipped, that’s far from the case. Of course, that question is being brought up again now that digital- and cloud-based gaming is becoming a cornerstone of the entertainment landscape in general.
While Sony is obviously prepping itself for an increasingly digital world (simply look to its landmark deal with Microsoft), Ryan admitted, “Who knows what the world looks like in five years time?” Sony already has a game streaming service, PlayStation Now, and it’s all but confirmed Sony will put more focus on it with the PS5. We’re already seeing a bigger focus on digital-only platforms now, with Google Stadia and the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. However, it doesn’t appear that, at least for now, there’s no plan to get rid of a box altogether.
That could change in the future, though. Whether PlayStation eventually ditches the box or not, Ryan assured fans that “any transition will be steady and gradual.” One possibility he mentioned was a hybrid “between console and some sort of cloud.” He also stresses that, whether we’ll play it on a box or not, one thing will remain the same: PlayStation’s library of exclusives, calling them one of the brand’s “enduring strengths.”