For this year’s press conference, Sony made concessions to Covid by having far less seating, with chairs spaced out, and fewer people in attendance, but there is really nothing like the being-there excitement of hearing and seeing new product announcements and special guests!
The event began with Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO of Sony taking the stage. Yoshida reaffirmed the importance of its purpose: to fill the world with emotion through the power of creativity and technology. And Sony is looking to use new tools to get closer to people, including content creators and users.
Sony established two major funds in 2020—one to support those affected by the global pandemic and another to help combat social injustice. Sony has given $100 million to both funds, and the company is driven to support communities in need, and to align with community partners to advance solutions in civic community engagement, criminal justice reform and access to education. The company is committed to helping communities around the world and that “all voices must be heard.”
Sony also understands its technology and social platforms enable people to connect more deeply with those who share the same interests and allows them to form stronger bonds.
Part of working on the content creation side during the pandemic meant getting creative, and Yoshida discussed Sony’s Virtual Production system. Part of Sony’s Innovation Studios has evolved to streamline workflow, using the company’s Crystal LED technology to deliver the creator’s intention by projecting bright images with high contrast and vivid colors, and using the company’s Venice 2 cameras for cutting-edge results and its Airpeak drone that enables video creators to explore new frontiers for expression. With these technologies, content creators can seamlessly shift from one place to another—from where they are to where they want to be. Yoshida said that with virtual production, drones, and smartphones, “Creativity has no limits.”
Sony is involved in new forms of entertainment from games to movies, leveraging the company’s agility in shifting people to new contexts and new worlds. With that Yoshida introduced Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Tom Holland, star of the upcoming Uncharted film. (And the star energy from Holland filling the room is the reason why a virtual experience will never replace actually being there!)
Holland admitted he is a huge gamer, and he started playing the Uncharted series during production on the first Spider-Man film. He played and fell in love with the game and the character and now he is getting to play Nathan Drake in Uncharted (with a February 18 release). Holland is looking to bring the character of Drake to life in a new and refreshing way, but keep what fans love about the character. He said he wants to give fans and people that love the game something new and refreshing to enjoy, while staying true to it.
Holland then introduced a world-premiere clip from Uncharted that he claimed was the hardest action sequence he’s ever been involved with.
Rothman said that Uncharted filmmakers worked closely with Sony’s PlayStation gaming division to ensure the film was accurate to the game. He then introduced Neil Druckman, co-president of Naughty Dog, creators of the Uncharted game franchise. Druckman said he is proud Nathan Drake is coming to the big screen to reconnect with existing fans and make new ones, and that Tom Holland honors Nathan Drake’s roots while bringing his own take to the character.
This is not the only gaming-to-screen collaboration Sony is working on. They are also developing series for HBO based on Last of Us, another series based on Twisted Metal and a movie based on Ghost of Sushima, all of which have been working hand-in-hand with PlayStation’s productions partners.
Jim Ryan, head of Sony’s PlayStation Group, then took the stage to talk about PlayStation 5, which just passed the one-year mark in its lifecycle. Ryan praised the support of fans, developers, and publishing partners and announced there are now 17 studios in the PS family.
They have already added new features to the PS5 such as 3D audio and SharePlay between PS5 and PS4, and are adding a new tournament play feature. The big upcoming development for PS5 will be next-gen VR. Ryan claims this will provide the ultimate entertainment experience for players, and to support this he announced the new PlayStation VR2 headset and PlayStation VR2 Sense Controllers that will allow for deeper immersion into the game. With VR, Sony will bring the power of technology along with the creativity of developers to evoke a new range of emotions and deliver truly next-generation gaming experiences. With this will come new sensory features, enhanced controls tracking, and upgraded visual fidelity. The PS5 will offer best-in-class visual experience with 4K HDR and 110-degree field of view, allowing players to feel and interact with games in a much more visceral way.
Yoshida returned to the stage and discussed Sony moving towards the future. At CES 202 the company unveiled its prototype car, the VISION-S, with the goal of contributing to the evolution of mobility. Public excitement from the VISION-S encouraged Sony to “change the experience of moving from one place to another,” and with that a new VISION-S prototype SUV was revealed. The platform is developed on a foundation of safety, adaptability and entertainment and the vehicle includes a total of 40 sensors, including Sony’s CMOS image sensors installed inside and outside to monitor safety. It is equipped with network connectivity to allow a continuously evolving vehicle and cabin that can be personalized for each user, and will feature Sony’s 360 Reality Audio, gaming experiences and a fully integrated digital video service via BRAVIA Core for VISION-S.
Yoshida believes Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility, and in line with that, the company has established Sony Mobility, Inc. to accelerate these efforts. The company is exploring a commercial launch of Sony’s EV, which will harness the potential of mobility utilizing Sony’s AI.
While Sony has a slew of new display announcements planned for the show—including an entirely new lineup of flat panels—none of these products were discussed or presented during the event.