June 28, 2006
People were understandably upset when companies decided next-generation meant charging everyone $10 more for their games — especially when the price was applied to last-generation ports like GUN and Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. Nonetheless, most have sucked it up at this point, but no one anticipated Sony would actually up the ante when PlayStation 3 dropped in November.
Yet SCEA president Kaz Hirai isn’t promising a $59.99 price tag for PS3 games this fall. In an interview with PSM, the Sony leader explained. So, what I can say now is, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to think that we could suddenly turn around and say “PS3 games now $99.99″ I don’t think the consumers expect the software pricing to suddenly be double,” he told the magazine. “So, if it becomes a bit higher than fifty-nine bucks don’t ding me, but, again, as I said, I don’t expect it to be a hundred bucks.”
In other words, consumers should expect PS3 games to cost somewhere between $59.99 and $99.99. He doesn’t expect them to be a hundred dollars, but it’s only a “stretch” to expect it. Have we moved back to the cartridge ages here? Wasn’t disc-based media supposed to make everything cheaper? I don’t want to remember how much my parent’s paid for several of Square’s older SNES releases during Christmas.
Sony’s cocky enough to price their hardware above the competition, but we don’t seriously expect them to change consumer expectations for software prices. We hope.
June 24, 2006
The seven HDMI Founder companies have announced an overhaul of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) – the standard digital interface for high definition consumer electronics, with the PlayStation 3 set to be the first device to benefit from the enhancements.
The HDMI 1.3 specification more than doubles HDMI’s bandwidth and adds support for Deep Color technology, a broader colour space, new digital audio formats, automatic audio/video synching capability and adds an optional smaller connector for use with personal photo and video devices. HDMI 1.3 increases single-link bandwidth from 165MHz (4.95 gigabits per second) to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps) in preparation for higher resolutions/frame rates. There will also be support for 30-bit, 36-bit and 48-bit (RGB or YCbCr) color depths, up from the 24-bit depths in previous versions of HDMI – which means displays go from millions of colors to billions of colors.
Other benefits include an increased contrast ratio, automatic audio/video synching capability and increased support for lossless formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, rather than the current compressed formats of Dolby Digital and DTS. The companies also stress that products implementing the new HDMI specification will continue to be backward compatible with earlier HDMI products – good news for those of that have shelled out in time for the World Cup.
June 22, 2006
Is Jack Tretton serious or is he just hiding a deal gone sour? this is the kind of question that comes to mind when reading Sony's co-Chief Operating Officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America statement.
In an interview with The Street, Tretton says that third party titles have little importance in the PS3 – Xbox 360 war.
"The days of locking up exclusive content from a third party and having that be key to your strategy is really a dangerous road to go down because I think with the cost of development, not many developers can afford to do exclusivity. So, really what defines the uniqueness of a platform from a software standpoint are the offerings that you have from first party."
Furthermore, Tretton goes on emphasizing that not having Grand Theft Auto 4 as an exclusive title in 2007 will not affect the console
"There's no question that having the Grand Theft Auto franchise helped us a lot and helped us sell some units, but I don't think the battle would be any different with or without Grand Theft Auto.
If you look at our first-party library and the franchises that we've brought to market over the course of PlayStation 2, we have a very formidable first-party library of exclusive software that will help define us."
Sony's PlayStation 3 has been criticized a lot for various reasons, it's release price ($499 and $599) being the most obvious. However, in spite all criticism, company execs continue to believe That PlayStation 3 will be a hit, due to its first-party exclusives.
Also, such confidence could have been boosted by recent PlayStation 2 sales charts, which indicate that Sony 's console is still outselling the Xbox 360.
As part of a sometimes contentious Sony shareholder meeting in Japan, executive Ken Kutaragi has indicated that the company intends to sell as many as 100 million PS3 consoles over the next several years.
Kutaragi made the comments, reported by AFX News, as chairman Howard Stringer addressed the shareholder meeting in an attempt to dispel fears at his first annual meeting as CEO.
According to a report on the Mainichi Daily News site in Japan, Stringer addressed the assembled shareholders by noting: "Now in its 60th year, Sony has entered a period of re-emergence."
However, the Mainichi article notes that Sony shareholders are still nervous over increased costs in the run-up to the PS3's launch, and the recent buffeting that Sony's shares have seen on the Tokyo stock exchange, as seen in this extract:
"Sony shares have lost nearly half their value over the last five years. On Thursday, the stock rose 3.6 percent to 4,940 yen. One shareholder, who identified herself only by her surname Kasahara, said she bought Sony shares at 14,000 yen. "I bought shares in mighty Sony," she said, stressing her unhappiness about their plunge. "What are you going to do about this?" she asked, drawing laughs from the crowd.""
In the most recent company results, for the period ended March 31st, Sony as a whole showed a ¥66.5 billion ($578.7m) loss, more than the ¥56.5 billion ($491.7m) loss at the same time last year, even though the company's game division, which produces the PS2, PSP, and software for the two machines, still showed a profit.
However, the company also indicated that it expects its game division to post a loss of around ¥100 billion ($870.6m) for that year, hit by start-up costs for the PlayStation 3 which the company is assumed to be initially selling at a loss.
TheStreet.com interviewed Jack Tretton, co-chief operating officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America, about the challenges that Sony will potentially face this holiday season with the Playstation 3. Overall, Tretton stays within the Sony’s talking points on the PS3 and doesn’t reveal a lot of new information, but does offer some interesting perspective on where Sony sits in the upcoming next generation console battle. Again, the issue of the “disappointing” E3 presentation was tackled, and Tretton, like others at Sony before him, believes that overall the presentation was a success. While consumers and the gaming press may not have been enthused with the information presented, Sony’s stand is that the key stakeholders in the upcoming battle, retailers and third-party developers came away with the information they needed, and from that point of view, their presentation succeeded. Winning over the consumer at this level would have been a great bonus, but Sony believes that their long-term strategy will address the concerns of the average gamer, and didn’t need to be fully addressed at E3.
Part of this comes into play when addressing the price point; Sony’s position is that once the consumer understands the value proposition of the technology included in the PS3 versus the Xbox 360, then $499 will become an acceptable outlay. Whether Sony can successfully message this remains to be seen, but there are still a number of months before the launch, and earnest marketing hasn’t really started yet.
Tretton also believes that the head start the Xbox 360 has on the Playstation 3 is insignificant, stating that if “a competitor gets to 6 to 10 million worldwide, I would not consider that to be a significant advantage or a significant disadvantage as far as we’re concerned.” This is because Sony’s position is that the race is a marathon and not a sprint; their targets are at 100-million units worldwide and 50-million in America alone. However, there must be some point at which a competitor’s lead becomes insurmountable, and Sony has never faced a situation where they’ve ceded that much ground to a competitor before.
Finally, Sony downplays third-party exclusivity, particularly the loss of Grand Theft Auto 4 as an exclusive Playstation 3 title. Tretton believes that ultimately, this will become a losing proposition, that “with the cost of development, not many developers can afford to do exclusivity.” First party games, for Sony, will become the driver of exclusive sales. This is somewhat of an interesting statement; ten years ago, one could have said that the best producers of first-party content were Sega and Nintendo. Sega titles didn’t save the Dreamcast from oblivion, and the hottest first party titles from Nintendo couldn’t elevate the Gamecube above third place in the console wars. This is somewhat turning around in the portable market, with the DS, but from history, this doesn’t seem to be the guarantor of success that Sony believes it to be.
The interview really tackles what the competition is going to be like from a business perspective. It seems like Sony is in a comeback position now, but the company has yet to fail, and the next year in the console wars will certainly be an interesting one.
June 21, 2006
Sony Computer Entertainment is looking for people interested in testing PS3 software, "This position entails checking the functionality of software for the PS3, PS2, and PSP, compiling reports, and evaluating content." Requirements are pretty light, between the age of 20-30, ability to work for a year starting July 18, not be a student, and obviously love games. No experience is required and pay ranges from $8 to $12/hour. Interested parties must submit their résumé to SCEJ by July 3.
June 15, 2006
PLAY.com are currently accepting pre-orders for the November release of Sony’s Playstation 3. They are currently offering a bundle which consists of 60Gb PS3, Formula One, Singstar and Warhawk, although the titles are subject to change. The price of this attractive package? A whopping £550!
This is the only package currently available on their website.
PLAY are already mentioning a shortage, their website states: Due to an expected European shortage of the PS3, we are unable to guarantee delivery of your PS3 before Christmas. All pre-orders will be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis and game titles in this package may be changed, subject to availability.
Sony announced the price of the PS3 to be approximately £425 for the main package and unfortunately U.K gamers won’t be able to get their hands on the lower priced 20Gb unit.