December 11, 2005
PS3 Interviews on Playstation Magazine
I found out an interesting interview (by PSM, naturally) to a couple of Sony personalities.
Ladies and gentlemen, President and Chief Executive Officer Kaz Hiral and his Vice, Jack Tretton, unveiling all of their little secrets!
PSM: What do you say to the Playstation 2 owner that knows the PS3 is coming in 2005, and isn’t sure what that means for their current system?
Kaz Hirai: We’re into year five now with the Playstation 2 and we see a lot of life left in the Playstation 2 even after the Playstation 3 is launched. I think that a lot of publishers who were really not as aggressive in pursuing the older platform in terms of software support saw how the Playstation was in business for 10 years, so I think this time around you’re going to see a lot more titles coming out for the Playstation 2, certainly next year and even beyond, obviously from first party, but also third party community as well.
PSM: What ever happened with the PS2 HDD and the media software for it?
Kaz Hirai: A couple of things there. One, we felt that a lot of those uses were suited for a portable environment, so you see a lot of that on the Playstation Portable. By the nature of the portability of the product, you going to have more uses for things like showing photos to your friends and what have you. That, as well as, quite honestly, the ramp up and the number of units were able to get out of the hard drive and the software support unfortunately did not mean we were going to have a 1:1 tie ratio with the Playstation 2s we had out in the market. We also had the redesign to the slim model PS2 as well, so, what we’ve done, again, in realize that these are all good functions to have, and we’ve incorporated them into the Playstation Portable. I think it’s proven to be nice functionality that many people will take advantage of.
PSM: Can we expect more totally original titles on PSP in 2006?
Kaz Hirai: Yes. We certainly want to bring a lot of franchises to the PSP that are originally developed for that platform, but, at the same time, one of the things we want to accomplish with the Playstation Portable is to really expand the Playstation experience to the handheld enviroment. So both in terms of variations of existing franchises-Which, as you know, aren’t just simple ports; they’re using the same name but have completely different gameplay- we want to take advantage of the franchises we’ve built, but also being cognizant that you don’t establish a new platform by just relying on existing franchises and you do need to push the envelope with great original content, like, for example Pursuit Force.
PSM: Are you still committed to a spring launch for PS3?
Kaz Hirai: We are still strategizing over that, and we’ve not come to a decision yet as to whether we want to with Japan first, the same time, three territories at the same time. Those things we’re still looking at, and it’s obviously a decision that needs to be made with us weighting a variety of actors, including how many units we can ramp up to, what is the manufacturing capacity, but, more importantly, what kind of software lineup are we going to have between first- and third-party in any of the three territories that will get the product first, being Japan, Europe, and the U.S. Which territory has the flow of software, the lineup of software? That will factor into it as well. So, basically, in a nutshell, it’s too early to answer that question both from the manufacturing ramp up standpoint as well as the software lineup standpoint.
PSM: Can we sqush the rumors of PS3 slipping into 2007?
Kaz Hirai: [laughs] yes…unless we have no software, which I doubt very much, we’re still on track for a sping 2006 launch.
PSM: How much of an impact on PS3 will Microsoft’s head start with Xbox360- however long it may be-have?
Jack Tretton: I consider myself womewhat of a student of history, and while I don’t think that the past is ever any guarantee of the future, a couple of things I like to point out factually that clearly are indicative of what you can expect going forward. Number one, we’ve never been the first platform to market. When we original launched the Playstation, the Sega Saturn hit the market before we did and ultimately that didn’t help them prevail. The last time around with Playstation 2, the dreamcast hit the market first and ultimately that didn’t help them prevail. Number two, if you say that this generation really came down to a battle between us and Microsoft, we sold three million PS2s before it hit the shelves in the States and if you look at the score now, it’s 34 million for PS2 to roughly 14 million for Xbox. I think that, in Microsoft’s mind, that three million we sold was really paramount. As far as what it would take for a lead by Microsoft to be significant, I don’t think it’s a matter of time, but rather a matter of units.
PSM: How important to Sony is the idea of a simultaneous worldwide launch of Playstation 3?
Jack Tretton: I don’t think a consumer really cares whether or not if [the PS3] is available in another country before or after it’s available for them. Everybody wants a new platform as asoon as they can get their hands on it, and I guess selfishly every territory wants to be first, but I think ultimately what the consumers are going to be excited about is going to be the software content that’s available for it. The actual machine isn’t very exciting unless you have compelling software to put into it. Often times, the first territory the system launches in suffers from the weakest launch lineup because the other territories have that additional time to do development and really get more games available and make each game that much better in time to hit the launch window.
PSM: Are you confident that the final PS3 will deliver the quality of visuals seen in the E3 demos?
Kaz Hirai: Yes, and I think the proof will have to be in the pudding. Because no matter what I say here, people are going to try dispel that and be skeptical until they see what we bring in terms of the final product. I’m going to say it’s going to be just as exciting or even better than what people have seen, we will deliver, just as we have on the original Playstation. The Playstation 2, and most recently, the Playstation Portable.
Jack Tretton: We wouldn’t be making claims of what our platforms could do if we didn’t feel we could deliver on them. We’ve actually got three internal [PS3] titles that we’re working on at Sony Computer Entertainment America. On of them, WarHawk, is playable, and you can compare the graphics and see them live, and also with another one of our launch titles, a game from factor 5 called Lair, again live footage, that footage compares very favorablely to what was shown at E3 press conference. I think that, in the very near future, you’ll see some comparable gameplay footage that will really put those rumors[PS3 can’t be as powerful as we’re claiming it is] to bed.
PSM: There’s been a lot of speculation about downscaling the PS3 in order to keep the price of the system down-is this really happening?
Kaz Hirai: The specifications that were distributed at E3 are the only verison of the Playstation 3 that exists. I have not seem any revisions to that, certainly not any offical internal communication. (notes: SCEA has since clarified that it was never officially stated that the PS3 would serve as a full wireless router. The system will simply act as a basic hub for connecting other Ethernet devices via an existing connection to home wireless network.)
PSM: When will we get to play actual PS3 game on real PS3?
Kaz Hirai: It’s hard to say when at this point in time, but what I can say is as soon as we feel that the quality of the software is up to where we expect it to be, and that we’re confident of us being able to present that to everybody and have everybody go home with the impression that, yes, these guys are really pushing the envelope in terms of what they bring to gameplay, graphic quality, and everything else. If that takes longer, then again, people are going to be skeptical until the day we show that. If it take longer than a lot of people expect, and that cause more speculation, it is what it is. I don’t think it’s something we can do anything about until we come out with an exact showing of those games, and we’ll present those games just as soon as we’re good and ready to go.
PSM: How will the Playstation online experience change with the introduction of PS3?
Kaz Hirai: With the Playstation 3, you can expect to see a lot more of the freatures that make it exciting to be part of an online community, beyond just the gameplay. Wether it’s matchmaking or other community features, those are a integral part of being an oline community. We’re hard at work on integrating those functionalities, as well as other functionalities that people have come to expect, and even some new things that people will find very refreshing.
PSM: What about the talk from others at Sony that PS3 online will be just like PS2 online, more or less?
Kaz Hirai: I think that when people at SCEE or SCEA talk about keeping the oline model pretty much along the lines of what we have now[on PS2] what they’re actually saying is that they want to make sure that we maintain all of good business model points that we had in the open model and try to improve upon those with our third-party publishing partners.
PSM: Can you tell us anything about the pricing of the Playstation 3?
Kaz Hirai: pricing [of the system itself] is again something we’ll have to take a very close look at as we get closer and closer to launch. So at this point in time, it’s really difficult to say what the pricing structure is going to look like.
PSM: There some concern about PS3 being priced out of the reach of everyone but the hardcore early adopters. Is this valid?
Kai Hirai: I woud say that our past performance is the best indication of our future performance, and for at least three platforms, I think we have been bringing an excellent value to consumers, but also providing them with cuttingedge technology. I go back to less than a year ago when people looked at the PSP, and I got questions like “wow, this thing is great, but what do you think? $500?” and I said, “well, the proof is in the pudding: we’ve done Playstation and Playstation 2 at an affordable price,” and people just said “yeah, right!” response. But we went out there with a $249 value pack, and I think people were pleasantly surprised. I not saying, therefore, that the PS3 is going to be $249, $299, whatever, but I think we have pretty good history of providing value for what we bring to the consumers.