Last year, the President of Sony Corporation, Kenichiro Yoshida made a brief statement on the PlayStation 5. Stating that the console would focus on "Hardcore gamers who obsess over the latest tech". To me, that sounded a bit worrying as it meant Sony didn't really have much faith in the PlayStation brand, relegating it to the status of a niche hobby, when gaming nowadays is anything but. But then I thought more about it, and my thinking is that, possibly, this could be just the interpretation of Sony Corporation executives, rather than the actual views of PlayStation.
See, Unlike Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony is a conglomerate. Each of the company's 5 main Worldwide Subsidiaries, are semi-autonomous companies that act pretty much on their own, with only vague connections the goals and vision of the overall Sony brand. The entity that controls PlayStation, is Sony Interactive Entertainment, LLC. Unlike its parent company, SIE is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and has its own team of management, executives, and goals independent to that of Sony Corporation, or any other Sony division such as Sony Pictures. The only connection is that they occasionally report to the mothership company in Tokyo.
Why is this important? Because it could signal that the way Sony Corporation sees PS5, and how SIE sees PS5 could be completely different. It may not seem like it at first, but PlayStation was never really a "Hardcore" gamers brand, especially not when the OG PlayStation was introduced. Sega, and to a lesser extent, Nintendo were the "Hardcore" brands, catering to diehard gamers who were interested in fast-paced, arcade-style games. PlayStation however, targeted a broader audience, including an older, young adult crowd that otherwise wouldn't have had any interest in Video Games. Sony used the power of the CD format to their advantage when marketing the PlayStation, focusing on Music-themed games, FMV-heavy titles, and sprawling, complex narratives that attracted a wider audience to gaming. It worked, as the PS1 was the first home console to sell over 100 million units Worldwide. The PlayStation 2 was even more successful, with its DVD support making it the first DVD player for most people. And nurtured the audience it brought in to gaming with successors to PS1 titles, and new games that leveraged the DVD format. Sony also did things like EyeToy and SingStar on the console, which are anything but "Hardcore". Then you have the PS3, where Sony attempted to follow Nintendo with PlayStation Move. But beyond that, was also a competent HD media device for people who don't play a lot of games.
Then you have the PS4, which was the most successful console this generation, but it was designed to appeal to gamers of all playstyles and skill, rather than just "The Hardcore". Sony built the PS4 to speak to all kinds of gamers, whether it'd be casual Minecraft or Fortnite players, to hardcore CoD or Uncharted fans. by the end, the console will likely reach 120 million units, even outselling the Wii.
I think the reason Yoshida said that the PS5 is "for hardcore gamers mostly" is because when he and the rest of Sony Corp. see what SIE is building, they don't really understand it the way SIE does. PlayStation has deviated heavily from its Japanese, Sony Computer Entertainment roots, and the PS4 was the first PlayStation designed completely with Western influence. The PS5 continues that, by being the first PS Console developed entirely in the US, and thus the mentality of design is akin to that of a Western company. With a focus on powerful technology, and advanced graphics. The Japanese parent company may not see it having that broad of appeal, but the American Subsidiary actually making it could have far grander ambitions. Sony Corporation, may not see the PS5 being anything more than a system for the diehards, but they're allowing Sony Interactive to do whatever they want so long as it makes money for the conglomerate as a whole. I think this kind of cultural dissonance, would explain why Sony Corp. doesn't see much mainstream appeal in the PS5. Executives at that company look at something like Nintendo Switch, a very Japanese-oriented, low-powered tablet, as a platform that would be friendlier to general consumers, rather than a Western-made, high-tech powerhouse like the PS5. But to Sony Interactive, the PS5 has potential to reach a wide array of demographics, from casuals, to hardcore, and thus designed the system with that appeal in mind. It'll also explain why similar statements haven't been echoed by SIE executives like Mark Cerny, or Jim Ryan.
But this is just a theory... A Game Theory. I think the PS5 has the potential to be even more popular than the PS4, and Sony Interactive could feel the same way. But to Sony Corporation, it may not be something they think, would appeal to the mainstream. That's not to say PlayStation DOESN'T appeal to the hardcore gamer, but that's obviously a lie. But the brand has much broader appeal than many think.