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Fortnite proves Sony needs to address the PS5’s elephant in the room

Sony has to address growing calls for cross platform play between consoles, mobile devices and PCs if it wants the PS5 to remain competitive, according to industry experts.

Future Source market analyst, James Manning Smith told Trusted Reviews that key new technologies, like 5G and game streaming services such as Nvidia GeForce Now, are rapidly changing gamers’ expectations and play patterns.

“As broadband and network internet capacity improves, there becomes a greater potential for gaming to move to the cloud. Companies who do not invest now would be at a greater risk of falling behind in years to come,” he said.

“There are already significant shifts in terms of consumers moving towards digital content access. 70% of console games revenues in 2019 were derived from DLC, digital game downloads and subscription access fees.”

Related: PS5 vs Xbox Series X

Smith added that while technological issues with things like latency mean the services won’t directly eat into console sales, Sony should worry about changes in player behaviour.

“While a strong console hardware offering will remain vital in the next few years, and certainly is expected to offer a better experience particularly in comparison to cloud game streaming services, lacking a strong cross device compatibility service would leave a growing hole in product competitiveness,” he continued.

Smith highlighted the ongoing popularity of Epic’s online shooter Fortnite as proof of the growing appetite for increased player freedom.

“Games such as Fortnite have gained attention and significant player counts through cross platform compatibility, allowing users to play on consoles, PCs and mobile devices,” he added.

“Furthermore, access to Fortnite is free and monetisation is derived from battle passes and in-game item purchases. While not a subscription-based game, Fortnite and similar titles have proven profitability as they have shifted from the traditional game purchase business model.”

Cross platform and device play is a growing area in gaming. Microsoft declared Xbox is “a platform” before the Xbox Series X was unveiled. It has since taken steps to merge its Windows 10 and console games stores. This included launching a cross-platform Game Pass service and making it so any first-party game purchased on the Windows/Xbox Store will run on both PC and Xbox.

The firm also launched its cloud streaming Project xCloud service in beta last year, which lets gamers play the full fat console/PC version of said games on mobile devices.

GlobalData senior thematic analyst, Rupantar Guha told Trusted Reviews that, while Sony has been playing catchup on cross platform and mobile technology, its strong offering of exclusive games has earned it a loyal following that will continue to grow.

“Although comparatively weak in data centres, PS Now’s availability on PS4 consoles and PCs, coupled with its broad library of games, appeals to gamers that have access to high-speed internet connectivity. This has helped Sony to add nearly a million users on the service between October 2019 and May 2020, with COVID-19 also a major contributing factor to this growth,” he said.

“So, in our opinion, Sony is currently competing well against the leading data centre companies. Its association with Microsoft for the joint development of cloud gaming services could help it further improve PS Now in the coming years.”

Related: Best PS5 games

The two analysts’ comments come less than a week after Sony unveiled the first wave of launch titles for the PS5. These included Horizon Forbidden WestResident Evil 8Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesGran Turismo 7 and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart..

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