Correction: Sony reached out to tell us that the Twitter account allegedly belonging to SIE CEO John Kodera in this story was actually an elaborate hoax. I apologize deeply for the oversight!
Original story: The new boss of Sony’s PlayStation division took charge late last year and he made one thing clear at the start of this one: the change in leadership does not mean a change in direction for the company’s biggest games. Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO John Kodera made the pronouncement in a humbly-worded Twitter response to a PlayStation fan’s concerns.
I will do my best to continue the excellent work done by Mr. @AndyHousePS . About the issue of “Games as a Service”, do not worry about it. @PlayStation’s vision is totally different.January 10, 2018
A clarification of terms: “games as a service” is a broad concept encapsulating games that keep you playing for months or even years with regular content updates (as opposed to a set campaign or multiplayer experience). It’s the difference between the original Halo and Destiny; they’re both built on similar shooty-shoot play experiences, but Destiny added stuff for years after launch to keep players coming back. Also to keep players spending money on DLC expansions and microtransactions, which is the part that tends to rankle.
While PS4 is home to many such games as a service, the big titles Sony publishes tend to keep that element secondary or not use it at all: Horizon: Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, and Bloodborne are just a few examples. Looking ahead to God of War, Days Gone, Spider-Man, and Ghost of Tsushima, the same seems to be true of Sony’s currently announced slate of games. And judging by Kodera’s tweet, we can expect similar plans far further into the company’s future, even as former CEO Andrew House’s press conference voice becomes a distant (but still pleasantly Welsh) memory.
Taking a step past the “good guy Sony” interpretation, this approach makes business sense even as games as a service become more and more profitable for other publishers. When console manufacturers make their own games, they’re not just trying to sell those games. They’re trying to make their platforms as desirable as possible.
Horizon: Zero Dawn probably would have made more money if it sold you crafting materials in loot boxes, but it also may have eroded some of the good feelings players have about it and the system as a whole. By emphasizing traditionally crowd-pleasing games in its own portfolio, Sony keeps fans happy, sells more PS4s, and cultivates a thriving platform for all kinds of titles. That includes games as a service, from which Sony happily collects a portion of the microtransaction purchases. Such is the unique, hard-earned joy of being a platform holder!