It’s no mystery why Sony made a PC gaming monitor that can also work well with the PS5. The PC gaming business is simply too big to ignore, and that’s just money on the table that’s otherwise up for grabs by other monitor manufacturers.
Sony didn’t exactly say those words, but I shouldn’t have known that was one of the reasons it decided to announce two gaming monitors this week. Another reason is that Sony’s growing focus on services means that PS Plus will eventually go beyond the console. Over the past few years, bringing its games to more people, rather than locking them away as exclusives, has become a welcome shift in strategy.
However, Sony was late to this particular party. Nintendo’s Switch and Valve’s Steam Deck are playable anywhere by design, and while you don’t see Microsoft making gaming monitors (in fact, that would be the rule), it has broadened its focus on the growing Xbox by improving PC compatibility and expanding of your cloud capabilities on more devices such as phones, tablets and now select Samsung TVs. The bar for someone to join Xbox Game Pass, giving them instant access to a wide range of games from their couch, phone or desk for a reasonable monthly fee, is incredible low. You’re almost a fool not to try.
Sony’s new gaming monitors show the company expanding in a much more limited way. This is a big deal, as Sony has historically been most concerned with dominating the living room, not the office or wherever you put your PC. But it stands out as odd in contrast to Nintendo, Microsoft and Valve, which are now focused on giving you ways to play your games wherever you are.
Regardless of the success of Sony’s new M9 monitor, it’s interesting to keep this in mind this, an $899 display (and a $529 model coming this winter), is Sony’s next big move to reach more gamers. It will certainly reach some Gamers: those who see value in a 27-inch monitor over buying a 48-inch OLED or something larger with less impressive specs for roughly the same price of nearly $1,000. But this looks like Sony is trying to make the most of (and possibly improve) the nagging but ultimately fixable problems in its console strategy to date.
To be clear, Sony is by no means in a sad place because of the PS5. It sold 17.3 million consoles from its launch in late 2020 to the end of 2021. The PS5 became the first console to end the Nintendo Switch’s 33-month best-selling streak in the US. And it’s been almost a year since Sony announced that its $499 PS5 turned a profit instead of a loss-making console.
Sony’s gaming business is doing well… for now. But there are components of its business that need to be improved so that Sony can better meet gamers where they are: everywhere, playing on any device.
Sony’s new tiered PS Plus subscription can’t currently compete directly with the value, simplicity and wide availability of Xbox Game Pass. I’m sure it’ll improve over time, but its new interface and game library feel overly cluttered with information that sells me on a service I’m already paying for, and eerily missing must-try experiences—at least for the uninitiated in PlayStation.
While Sony is working on it, I would also love to see this full service full of PS5 game streaming come to PC, Mac and mobile as soon as possible. Heck, maybe Sony could just clean up their messaging, because aside from using a console, it’s very confusing how you can and can’t play Sony’s large library of console games. He is currently doing a Remote Play Application for PC, Mac and mobile, but requires you to own a PS4 or PS5 and be on the same network. On PC, Sony is actually halfway there with its current PS Plus app that allows stream games on PC, but it only supports the older DualShock 4 controller, not Sony’s PS5 DualSense controller. Also, PS5 games are completely missing from the PC app — it’s just PS4 games with some older console classics mixed in.
To spread beyond the sofa, Sony will really need to understand cloud game streaming. It infamously groped that potato long ago and still hasn’t figured out where it bounced, even though, ironically, Microsoft itself powers Sony’s streaming technology. I’ve heard others report good experiences streaming PS3 and PS4 games via PS Plus, but even though my PS5 is connected via ethernet to a more than capable network, launching games is much slower and slower than the excellent xCloud experience.
Cool monitors won’t solve Sony’s problem with gaming everywhere, but it does the next best thing: it provides Sony’s own solution to the demands of gamers who don’t want to just sit on their couch to play on a console. People work remotely. They sit at their desk in their home office all day. Selling these people on a monitor that will handle regular computing tasks along with gaming, while also including fancy features for PS5 owners, keeps Sony in the places where people want to play – not where Sony thinks they should. Or at least that’s the plan.
I’ve really enjoyed using the M9 monitor so far. I’m still testing it, but it meets a lot of requirements — both for PS5 and PC players. It has a 4K IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and its 96-zone full-array local dimming makes an immediate impression, helping HDR to look even more stunning. We’ll have to see if it’s really good enough to compete with the current best gaming monitors in this price range. But its existence will not be confusing. Sony isn’t just competing for your TV time anymore; now it wants to be where you play and elsewhere.