• Kyodo

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Sony Group Corp. aims to connect with 1 billion users globally via its gaming, anime and other entertainment services, more than a sixfold increase from the current level, as part of its drive to solidify its foundation as a creative entertainment company.

Under a business strategy unveiled Wednesday, Sony said it will spend about ¥2 trillion in the next three years to March 2024 on key growth areas such as entertainment and technology.

Sony has been riding on the popularity of its PlayStation 5 game console and related software along with the blockbuster animated movie based on the popular “Demon Slayer” manga series, co-distributed by a subsidiary.

“We want to increase the number of people we connect with to 1 billion from the current 160 million,” Sony Group Chairman and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida told an online briefing on the business strategy, adding that anime and gaming go together “quite well.”

Gaming makes up the biggest part of the current customer base at present with about 100 million users, according to Yoshida. He did not give further breakdowns or reveal when the group aims to cross the 1 billion threshold.

“One way to (aim for 1 billion) is to expand what we already have and another is to create new communities of interest,” Yoshida said, referring to the possibility of working with other firms outside the group.

The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the group’s sales as people spend more time playing games and using other entertainment services at home. PlayStation 5 has met robust demand since its November launch and Sony Group has set a second-year sales target at 14.80 million units globally even amid a global chip shortage.

Recurring revenues have helped drive growth at Sony Group, which offers the PlayStation Plus subscription service and music streaming.

Last year, Sony Corp. announced its plan to buy the operator of U.S. anime streaming service Crunchyroll, which has millions of registered users in over 200 countries and regions, for about $1.18 billion.

Following a name change from Sony Corp. in April, Sony Group performs the headquarters functions of the Japanese conglomerate encompassing financial services, gaming, entertainment and electronics. The change represents its ongoing diversification from electronics, which made the brand name popular.

“Technology is important both in terms of creating content and delivering it (to consumers),” Yoshida said.

Sony Group has had strong success with its image sensors used in smartphones. To foster longer-term growth, the company is placing more focus on mobility as a key area where its image sensors can contribute to the safety of cars.

It has unveiled a prototype electric vehicle, the Vision-S, and has conducted driving tests.

“Our contribution to ensuring the safety (of cars) will help them develop into a new entertainment sphere,” Yoshida said.

During the online press briefing, Yoshida refrained from commenting on a media report about a plan for Sony Group and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to build a plant in Kumamoto Prefecture.

But Yoshida said, “It is critical to secure stable supplies” of the semiconductors used in its image sensors.

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