PlayStation CEO admits increased competition led to new cloud partnership with Microsoft

Kareem Anderson

The recent Sony and Microsoft cloud technologies partnership had many in the tech industry pontificating on the impetus of the collaboration, with many believing it was a strategic alliance against the Axis powers of Google and Amazon’s upcoming gaming initiatives.

Well, according to PlayStation executive Jim Ryan, the rampant speculation by tech journalists about Sony and Microsoft attempting to fend off competition turns out, is based in reality.

CNET journalist Ian Sheer sat down with Ryan for a timely interview just days before the major gaming convention E3 to discuss Sony’s broader PlayStation business strategies and how the company plans to handle the transition to its next-gen console the PlayStation 5.

While discussing Sony’s hopes for a seamless transition for owners of the current crop of PlayStation consoles to the new PlayStation 5 that include support for cross-generational gameplay and backward compatibility, Ryan was hit with the question of “the PlayStation 4 has become one of the biggest selling consoles in history. How do you match that with your next-gen console?” to which he replied,

This transition is probably gonna be more interesting than any other we’ve seen in the past. We obviously have one recently announced new entrant into the gaming space [Google] and the possibility of more to come.

So, the landscape is changing fast. If we simply kinda lean back on the world that we’ve known for the past 25 years, we’re at grave risk of having events around us overtake us. So, we have to show an open-mindedness and a desire to do things to an extent that we haven’t had to in the past.

One manifestation of that is the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Microsoft. Which is a kind of wide-ranging MOU that covers a number of areas of collaboration between Sony and Microsoft. One of the main ones is cloud gaming.

The world’s changing very fast and in a very interesting way.

We have a cloud gaming service right now, and we’ve added on it for a number of years. I think maybe we’ve been a bit guilty of not talking about it enough. Now we’re in 19 countries, we have 170 publishers on board, 780 games in the States. We’ve actually achieved a lot, and probably a lot more than people realize. And our intent is to build on those learnings and really look to try to take PlayStation Now to the next level later this year and then in the years to come.

Seems as plain as day that coupled with its own shortcomings in marketing its homegrown cloud prowess and the emergence of Google’s gaming cloud ambitions, Sony is opting for the more level headed play in partnering with Microsoft for the time being.

Microsoft has laid some pretty costly and expansive investments in foundational cloud technologies that would require far too much time and resources for Sony to contend with currently while also attempting to fend off competitive development from both direct competitors in Google and Microsoft or indirect threats from Amazon and Apple. Instead, Sony will leverage Microsoft’s continued investments in cloud gaming and streaming to bolster its own brand presumably, as long as it remains advantageous to the company.

A plucky side benefit to its partnership with Microsoft is that stalwarts of the old guard of gaming now have a vested interest in the success of one another against the perceived competition from relative newcomers Amazon and Google.

The deal was inked just a little under a month ago and the details of which, remain undisclosed for the moment, but it’ll be interesting to see how fierce competitors in the gaming market navigate a potentially thorny alliance.