Inside the development of the latest PS5 system software update

March 10, 2023
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The PS5 console’s latest system software update rolled out globally yesterday to all PS5 players, and many of you have already checked out new features like Discord voice chat and 1440p VRR support.

For a peek behind the curtain, we sat down with Hiromi Wakai, VP of Product Management based out of Tokyo, to discuss how the new features came together and what’s next beyond this latest update.

Sid Shuman: Good to speak with you again, Hiromi! Can you tell us about your role at PlayStation?

Hiromi Wakai: My team covers the product management role for the hardware products, system software updates, and network services for PlayStation, working closely with teams in the U.S. and Europe. I’m fortunate to help guide our product strategy on a global basis.

I joined Sony Group in 2001 and came to SIE in 2005, so I’ve been working on PlayStation products for almost 18 years. It’s been a wonderful journey of listening to our fans and game development partners as we work to deliver new features and products that unlock the possibilities of play.

Sid: Discord voice chat is a big addition.

Hiromi: Discord voice chat has been one of the biggest requests from our community and we’ve worked hard with the Discord team to deliver an experience that we hope our players will enjoy. I use Discord when I’m playing a Final Fantasy XIV raid with my friends who are gaming on PC, so Discord voice chat is a feature that’s important to me and one we’re very happy to bring to our community. Together with Discord, we want to make it easier for people to connect with each other, wherever they enjoy gaming.

Sid: What are some of your favorite features in this new update?

Hiromi: I’m very happy that we are delivering Variable Refresh Rate support for 1440p because it’s been a highly requested feature from players who enjoy gaming on 1440p-supported monitors. VRR is a great way to enhance the visual performance of PS5 games so it’s exciting that more of our gamers will be able to enjoy this feature.

The ability to update your DualSense controller wirelessly is another feature that I feel adds convenience for players and makes the experience of updating your controller’s device software that much easier.

Sid: How do you determine which features make it into a system update?

Hiromi: Our inspiration comes from our players so we are constantly listening to their feedback. We are always thinking about the features that our fans might want to see and ways to make their gaming experiences on PS5 more fun, social, and connected. It’s also important for us to minimize friction in players’ ability to easily jump into the experiences they want to enjoy on PS5. We keep a very long list of features and think carefully about how we prioritize our time and resources to deliver the ones that will make the most meaningful impact on our players’ experience.

Our focus is not just enhancing the core PS5 experience but also delivering great integrated platform experiences for new products, like the deep control customization options for the DualSense Edge wireless controller and PlayStation VR2. We are excited to introduce even more new features to players in the future!

Sid: What are some of the challenges you encounter when developing a system update? I’m guessing that some of them are more complicated than they might seem…

Hiromi: Definitely. Every system update is a very large development effort with many dozens of updates, from major features to smaller enhancements. Even a small update may take a lot of engineering resources and time to develop, so keeping track of all the details and making sure we’re delivering quality experiences that meet our players’ expectations is always a dynamic and exciting challenge. That’s why we rely so much on players to help us test these features in our betas and help us ensure they’re a great experience when we roll them out globally.

Fortunately, I work with a wonderful team here in Tokyo and around the world. It takes a lot of collaboration across different regions to deliver a successful system update. I’d like to thank our global team for all their hard work and our fans for always giving us great feedback and ideas to keep raising the bar.

Sid: How do you incorporate feedback from beta testers?

Hiromi: Beta tests are a crucial quality assurance step when we roll out new system software features. They give us the ability to test new features at scale and identify any important changes we need to make before the official global release. But, the process doesn’t stop there: we continually listen to players’ feedback after every system software release and gather data on how players engage with the new features so we can keep improving the experience for everyone. That’s our focus and passion.

Sid: With the latest PS5 system update out in the wild, what is your team working on now?

Hiromi: We’re working on more new features for players that we hope to share more about soon. I’m happy to see so many players enjoying the features in this latest update, but our mission to make gaming on PS5 the best possible experience continues.

It’s a privilege for us to bring these updates to our fans and I truly feel it’s a collaborative effort. Thanks to everyone in our community for your continued support. There’s more to come, so please stay tuned!

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