Sony calls on Spider-Man for PS5 year-end launch

Monday, June 15, 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sony Corp on Friday unveiled more than two dozen titles for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console, including a sequel to its hit "Spider-Man" title and the latest "Gran Turismo" racer, as it builds anticipation ahead of the planned year-end launch.

As rival Microsoft Corp prepares the launch of its next generation Xbox Series X console for this year's holiday season, the presentation gave a first glimpse of how games will look when played on Sony's device.

The PS5 promises advanced graphics and shorter load times through the use of its solid-state hard drive. Along with a games pipeline with exclusive titles, those are key selling points as contenders like Google push into gaming.

"You've seen games that can only be enjoyed with the full range of PlayStation 5's features and power," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said during the presentation, which attracted more than 2 million views of its feeds on YouTube and Twitch.

Upcoming titles include "Spider-Man: Miles Morales" from in-house studio Insomniac Games, a sequel to the best-selling title on the aging PlayStation 4, and "Project Athia" from Final Fantasy developer Square Enix Holdings.

"It is very smart of Sony to sell 'Spider-Man' this holiday season: that blockbuster alone will help generate a lot of buzz and is of course a system seller, too," said Serkan Toto, founder of game industry consultancy Kantan Games.

The online presentation, delayed from last week in deference to protests on racial inequalities that have roiled the United States, also showed off the PS5's design, which has a predominantly white exterior in a departure from recent generations.  

There was no indication of the hardware's pricing - a closely guarded secret that can make or break consoles. Sony said it would offer two version of the device, one without a disc drive as gamers shift to higher-margin digital downloads.

The move could indicate Sony had "examined ways to reduce the price point and give it more flexibility in the market," said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at Ampere Analysis.

The PS4's lower price when it was launched in 2013 is seen as giving it an early leg-up against the Xbox One, and it has gone on to sell more than 110 million units and outpace its rival, which does not disclose unit sales.  

Sony's long gaming experience - the first PlayStation launched 25 years ago - is proving tricky to replicate even for well-financed rivals.

Amazon's PC shooter "Crucible" received a lacklustre reception on launching last month and the ecommerce giant now says it will shutter two out of three of the game's modes. Google's cloud based Stadia service has also had a slow start.  

Industry observers on Friday praised Sony's deep gaming bench including the latest instalment of Capcom Co's "Resident Evil" franchise and upgraded versions of Take-Two Interactive Software's wildly popular "Grand Theft Auto" series set to land in the second half of 2021.

That contrasts with the "relatively unspectacular" reveals for Xbox, said Toto from Kantan Games.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Stephen Coates)