It seems that Sony has big plans for PS5 and AI technology, which will help it give a computational edge over Microsoft’s slightly more powerful Xbox Series X.
Information comes from the Sony Corporate Strategy Meeting slideshow from May 26, freely available on Sony’s website. The company devotes multiple slides to PlayStation topics, covering everything from PlayStation Studios movies and TV shows, to the ongoing importance of the PlayStation Plus subscription service. The most intriguing tidbit, however, arguably comes from the “Collaboration in Game AI” slide.
“Sony AI, which we established last year, has begun a collaboration with PlayStation that will make game experiences even richer and more enjoyable,” the slideshow reads. “By leveraging reinforcement learning, we are developing Game AI Agents that can be a player’s in-game opponent or collaboration partner.”
For those who aren’t familiar with it, Sony AI is a larger initiative in the company, “dedicated to using AI to help unleash human imagination and creativity,” according to its website. Sony is a little vague on how its AI protocol differs from similar projects elsewhere in the tech sphere. However, the company does explain that Sony AI’s four main pillars are Gastronomy, Imaging & Sensing, Gaming and AI Ethics.
Employing smarter, more subtle AIs in gaming could have significant benefits. As the slideshow suggests, computer-controlled enemies and allies in video games don’t usually behave like real people would. Sony AI could theoretically help non-player characters in video games respond more dynamically to players’ choices and skill levels, or at least behave unpredictably enough to simulate a real person behind the controller.
If successful, Sony could leverage this AI protocol to give players much smarter computer-controlled opponents and allies. This, similar to Nvidia’s DLSS, can alleviate computational load on hardware and offset that to the cloud. It could also help deliver more dynamic games on PS5 over Xbox Series X. But given that Microsoft has its own cloud platform in Azure, it could easily implement a similar feature.
There were a few other PlayStation stories in the slideshow, including an interesting speech from Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, on the current state of the PS5, and what Sony hopes to achieve next. (There’s nothing too shocking here, although Sony seems to want to develop smartphone games for some of its more popular IPs. We haven’t heard much about that elsewhere.)
PlayStation Plus is also a surprisingly big part of Sony’s strategy, as the service has grown “almost tenfold” compared to 2014, according to the slideshow. (“Sixfold” would be more accurate.) Sony calls PlayStation Plus “the most important [direct-to-consumer] service in the Sony group because it has the largest community.” PlayStation Plus appears to be both very popular, and very profitable.
One final interesting note: Sony may have big plans for its cloud gaming service, PlayStation Now, as well:
“Currently, we are working to enhance and develop our services within the network, such a PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, which is our streaming game service that began in 2014.”
Could PlayStation Now become a true Xbox Game Pass competitor, or is Sony just assuring investors that, yes, the service still exists and is making money? Hopefully, we’ll know by the end of the year.