Series S-style consoles ‘have not had great results’, says PlayStation boss

Jim Ryan claims Sony considered a lower spec PS5, but decided it would be too 'problematic'

PlayStation considered a lower-spec PS5 console similar to Xbox’s Series S, but feared it would quickly become obsolete, CEO Jim Ryan has said.

Speaking to Japanese site AV Watch (translated by VGC), the exec said that based on Sony’s research, “low priced, reduced spec” consoles had “not had great results in the past.”

“The first thing I would like to say is that I respect every competitor’s decision and their philosophies,” Ryan said.

“Clearly, price is a very important factor. We respect other companies’ competitive strategies. However, we are fully committed to and believe in our current strategy and the effect it will have.

“One thing that can be said is that if you look at the history of the game business, creating a special low priced, reduced spec console is something that has not had great results in the past. We’ve considered that option and seen other executives who have attempted this discover how problematic it is.”

Jim Ryan says Sony decided not to produce a lower spec PS5.

He added: “Based on our research, it’s clear that people who buy a game console want to continue using it for four, five, six or even seven years. They want to believe they have bought something that is future-proofed and not going to be outdated in two-to-three years.

“They want to have faith that if they end up buying a new TV that their current console will be able to support that new 4K TV they are considering on buying.”

Sony is planning to release two PlayStation 5 models in November. However, unlike Xbox’s Series S and X, the only difference between the two PS5 consoles will be the inclusion of an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive, which the Digital Edition console sacrifices for a lower price point.

At $300 / £250, Microsoft’s Xbox Series S console is significantly cheaper than the $500 / £449 Series X, thanks to lower specs than target 1440p gaming instead of native 4K.

Series S has virtually the same CPU as the Series X, but a less powerful GPU, less memory and no disc drive.

The difference in power between the two Xbox models has created much debate over whether Series S could restrict innovation on the more powerful Series X.

Axel Gneiting, an engine programmer at id Software, wrote that he was “really bummed about this RAM situation on the Series S,” in a since-deleted tweet. “This isn’t easy to compensate and drags down base spec quite a bit for next-gen multi platform.”

Remedy’s technical producer, Sasan Sepehr also voiced concern, writing: “As a consumer, I love this. As a Technical Producer, I see trouble.”

However, Gavin Stevens, design lead at independent studio Team Blur Games dismissed suggestions that Series S would hold back next-gen innovation. “No. No it’s not, and anybody with even a little experience will tell you as such,” he wrote.

“I’ll go into more detail below as to why that is, but the most important aspect is that this is NOT a last gen console, I can’t stress that enough.”

In a recent interview with The Verge, Microsoft’s director of Xbox program management, Jason Ronald said the company did “a lot of analysis” of what it would mean to run a game at 4K with 60fps and then to scale that down to 1440p at 60fps.

“The reality is you don’t need as much memory bandwidth because you’re not loading the highest level MIP levels into memory,” he said. “You don’t need the same amount of memory as well.”