Last week, Sony postponed a planned event to show off new games for its upcoming PlayStation 5 video game console, due later this year. At the time, the company said it wanted to “allow more important voices to be heard” as people around the world protested police misconduct and the killing of George Floyd.
Now Sony has a new date for its event: June 11, at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET. Sony’s pretaped event will focus on games, but the company plans to make more announcements ahead of the PS5’s launch sometime in the fall.
The company recommends viewers wear headphones while watching the video, because it did “some cool audio work” that’s harder to notice on a laptop or phone. Sony also said the event will stream at 1080p and 30 frames per second, much lower than the 4K quality the device is capable of showing. Sony said the video was reduced to ease the production process, since many staff and developers are working from home.
In an exclusive interview with CNET, Sony’s PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said last week was “no time to celebrate” amid international turmoil and racial strife. But for him and for Sony, the past couple of weeks since graphic videos of Floyd’s death while in police custody spread around the globe, have meant introspection about business practices, approach and diversity among his staff.
“There are moments in life when something happens around you and you realize that what you’ve been doing is either not big enough, not good enough, or just wrong. This is such a moment,” he said in an email exchange. “We are going to take a good hard look at how we behave as a company, and how we behave towards our community.”
As part of that, Sony’s PlayStation division pledged $1 million to causes supporting the black community.
The back and forth about Sony’s event is the latest example of people and companies attempting to navigate the emotional turbulence gripping the planet. There’s the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 7 million people around the world and killed more than 409,000 people since being first discovered in December. Governments across the globe have ordered quarantines of millions of people, nearly bringing economies to a halt and throwing tens of millions of people out of work. Now there are worldwide protests over Floyd too.
Sony’s Ryan said the decision to delay the PS5 event was straightforward. The show was already taped and completed, he added, but last week didn’t feel like a time to celebrate.
Other parts of Sony have struck a similarly somber tone. Sony Electronics, which makes devices like cameras, headphones and speakers, said it will hold internal moments of silence each week to acknowledge Floyd’s killing, as well as “those who’ve suffered death, discrimination and inequality.” The Sony Alpha team, which makes the company’s handheld cameras, has been tweeting out photos from protests. And Sony Music Group on June 6 launched a $100 million fund “to support social justice and anti-racist initiatives around the world.”
Ryan acknowledged that money and time aren’t the only things that will solve the issues raised by protesters. Diversity of voices is also important. And that’s an issue in the video game industry, where the heads of PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox team, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Bethesda and Zynga are all white men. “You have to come at affecting change from all angles –change mindsets, change culture, change processes, and apply more resources,” he said.
Along with our sister site GameSpot, CNET’s global team will cover Sony’s event, as well as other conferences that have shifted online. And our coverage will include the real-time updates, commentary and analysis you can only get here.
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