Sony takes a leap into PC gaming gear with new Inzone brand

Sony Group Corp. launched. A new gaming gear brand called Inzone is bringing out headphones and monitors for the PC to try and expand its reach beyond PlayStation.

The new branding is the Tokyo-based company’s effort to capture a slice of the peripheral market, adding to its plans to release more previous PlayStation exclusives on the Windows platform. Sony wants to signal to consumers that it makes products and games beyond its console ecosystem and is taking steps to expand its gaming empire into the mobile and PC arenas in recent years. Computers account for a fifth of the global gaming market, or $41 billion in 2022, according to Newzoo data, and host some of the most prominent brands and players in esports and video streaming.

Inzone’s first products will be three gaming headsets accompanied by two gaming monitors. The headphones range from $99.99 for the wired version to $299.99 for the wireless option with noise cancellation. They all have what’s called 360-degree spatial audio to help gamers better identify sound sources around them and are compatible with the PlayStation 5 console. The two 27-inch screens also have PS5-specific features, such as autofocus when connected to the console, and include an exact model 4K and lower resolution option with a fast refresh rate of 240Hz.

The company said in a statement that all three headphones and a 4K display will go on sale on July 8, while the other display will be launched later in 2022.

“We have packed all of our audio and visual expertise into these Inzone products. We want to start following up on serious PC game fans,” Shuichi Mogitani, general manager at Sony Marketing, said at a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday. “There is an extensive business opportunity here. For these computer gamers, playing for at least five to six hours a day is taken for granted.”

Sony’s PlayStation 5 home console has been in chronic shortages since its debut in late 2020 and the company is also building a more global online gaming subscription service similar to Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Game Pass.

“It appears that Sony has now stopped expanding the PlayStation ecosystem,” said industry analyst Serkan Toto of Kantan Games, noting that the Steam platform on PC has more monthly active users than Sony’s PlayStation. “It makes perfect sense for a hardware company to not only sell software but also branded accessories to this expanded audience.”

PC gaming benefits from spending on hardware much more than Sony’s traditional console stronghold. The PlayStation 5 costs $499.99, which is less than half the mainstream price for the main graphics card, the standout component of any gaming PC. By marketing to consumers who are used to paying more, Sony hopes to increase net income while diversifying its presence across gaming platforms.

Sony Interactive Entertainment, the company’s gaming unit, has forecast net PC sales of $300 million in the current fiscal year, more than triple the $80 million in 2021.

“Due to the tight supply of PS5 and the high costs of game development, the PC game market has become critical for Sony in order to demonstrate a stable profit to investors,” said Hideki Yasuda, analyst at Toyo Securities.

Sony will be new to the market where Microsoft has an advantage, with its own line of PCs and peripherals, and there’s a steady stream of gaming-focused brands like Razer Inc. and Corsair Gaming Inc. and Logitech International SA and SteelSeries.

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