24-06-2013 03:49 PM - edited 24-06-2013 03:49 PM
The president of SCE Worldwide Studios talks indie games, E3 and the future of PlayStation.
Where does E3 2013 rank for you in terms of impact?
It's amazing. I've been with PlayStation since the very beginning of the project in 1993 and some people reminded me of the way the passion and the vibe in the press conference was like the very first E3 in 1995, when we introduced the original PlayStation. Steve Race, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America at the time, just walked up onto the stage and said "$299" for the price, and the audience went crazy. And I agree – I remember that energy and excitement. We are so excited that all the plans we worked on leading up to this year are coming together. We feel like what we have designed and aimed for are really connecting with people, and that's great.
How did it feel being up there showing off the games that are developed by SCE Worldwide Studios to the world?
I was proud to be a part of this very important press conference. When we started planning for E3, honestly I thought there were people who would present better as the show was to be done in English. But when I spoke with the SCEA PR team, they said, "You have to do it. People want to hear from you as the head of Worldwide Studios." Everyone is working so hard to get PS4 into the market that I felt enormous responsibility to show the best of what people are doing from the software standpoint. I wanted to get that message across.
What kind of feedback do you get from the development teams about working with PlayStation 4?
I don't have to ask for this feedback, they just tell me. They are so happy that they can just focus on the games. They don't have to spend so much time trying to understand the hardware. The progress that all teams have made is great. That's a consistent message that I get. Many of the team members of the studios were already involved in the discussion of what PS4 should be, what DUALSHOCK 4 should be in terms of improvement from DUALSHOCK 3.
I get the feeling when I talk to the teams that there's a real sense of pride that they are now using the system they helped to design. They have a genuine passion for showing why PS4 is so special for playing games on. We can show the best of PS4 through our games.
With PlayStation Vita there's a sense of immediacy; you can put a game down and come back to it later on...
It's the same philosophy with PS4. We all love this immediacy and the seamless experience, and in many ways PS Vita is the inspiration for many of the features that we have incorporated into the PS4 system software designs. Actually, because it is the same group of people involved in designing PS Vita and PS4, PS Vita was almost like preliminary work and PS4 is the continuation of that. It's an evolution of the thinking of a home console, especially on the networked services side. So yes, we like the immediacy, and the expectation of the gamer is that all devices should be like that. We are working hard to achieve that.
Why is it so important to support independent game developers?
Because independent developers are making great, awesome games! Their passion, creativity and energy are at an all-time high. We expect that to continue, the reason being many indie studios are not brand new to the industry; they are often very experienced and have worked on many, many games over a number of years at larger studios. And they might think, "I want to make this game, this idea, for me," but it can be difficult to achieve within a larger team.
Because of the advances in digital platforms, now it's possible for small teams to create games and make a success of them all over the world. That's where the energy and some of the most exciting experiments and concepts are. Some of the best examples are last year's award winners, Journey and The Walking Dead. Both were digitally distributed and were made by small development teams. They competed with games with the biggest production values and they won. It's so important for us to be supportive of that on PS4, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.
That creativity you talk about must then feed back into the teams under the SCE Worldwide Studios umbrella?
Absolutely. We have larger teams and we also work with external developers and producers who cultivate close links with the smaller teams. When they see something amazing that is being developed, that inspires our teams as well. Larger teams sometimes find it better to stick with proven themes, but once a smaller developer shows something can be done, that really fires the other teams up – they want to outdo them.
on 24-06-2013 04:22 PM
on 02-07-2013 03:38 PM
When PS4 was formally announced back in February 2013, was there a conscious decision to focus on games first?
Absolutely. PS4 is a very advanced system, so it can do anything we want. PS3 was the most popular system for Netflix. People use PS3 for many different entertainment options and we will continue to support these services as well on PS4. In this age of so many options for playing games on mobile devices, tablets and so on, the reason there's a place for a dedicated games system at home is we can provide games that are more advanced and more immersive. These are experiences you cannot get anywhere else.
The only reason people look to spend several hundred euros to get a dedicated games system is because there are experiences that are only available on PS4. That's the message we really focused on in New York [back in February 2013]. For E3 we continued that emphasis, and because people want to use our system for other entertainment services we made sure we assured people that, yes, we are going to offer great video services, and now we are working very closely with other parts of Sony as part of that effort. Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, was on stage to talk about the co-operation between Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Pictures – what if we make new TV shows and movies available first on PS4?
Sony is a big entertainment company and under Kaz Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Corporation, we work much closer together. The content the whole group has will come to PlayStation Network and PS4. That's the additional message that we had for E3.
How do the development teams feel about the stance on used games?
We made this decision early in the process of designing PS4. There are still a lot of people who want to have the physical medium and the option to share with their friends. That's part of people's enjoyment of games today and that wouldn't change overnight. That's why we decided that the way people enjoy disc-based games should be the same as it is on PS3. The developers support that and our publishing partners support that. And judging by the reaction that we got we are sure we are making the right choice for everyone.
Did you get a chance to wander around the show floor at all?
Yes, I was able to walk around the Sony Computer Entertainment America booth and I had a great time playing upcoming PS Vita titles. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a lot of fun, and Dragon's Crown is beautiful with a clever control system. I also checked out the latest on my favourites, Tearaway and Killzone: Mercenary. I cannot wait for the new chapter of The Walking Dead on PS Vita - 400 Days. There are so many games coming out on PS Vita. I'm very excited.
How do you see PS4 slotting in with mobile devices, tablets and PS Vita?
From day one, PS4 is a connected device. Different devices offer different functions and PS Vita is the system that is most closely integrated with PS4. The system architecture of PS4 supports Remote Play with PS Vita, so unless PS4 games require a particular peripheral, all games are playable using PS Vita. And because Gaikai is now part of our group, we have new technical expertise to make the experience offered across PS4 and PS Vita much more robust. This will help make playing PS4 games on PS Vita really great. I've tried KNACK using my PS Vita system – it really looks great on the PS Vita screen.
Which game from the PS4 launch line-up are you most excited about gamers getting their hands on?
It would have to be KNACK. It's Mark Cerny's latest. Actually, the first game I produced was Crash Bandicoot for the Japanese market and since then Mark and I have a long history of working together with PlayStation. Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man... So many years we worked together.
Mark has been heavily involved in the hardware side recently yet KNACK is the game he's directing himself. In other projects lately his involvement has been to support other teams, but with KNACK the design and direction have that Mark Cerny quality. Also many of the team developing it in Japan were key members of the Ape Escape studio, and I produced that game back in the PS one days. So it's a great get-together between Mark and the Ape Escape guys to create this new action-platformer.
Mark's idea was that he wanted to create a game that could be enjoyed by even his mother and played together with her grandchildren. It has very simple controls and you can just mash buttons if you like, but if you're someone who plays a lot of games then there's a lot more depth there. I think it'll be a great purchase, something to play with other family members or even to show off your PS4 to other family members.
You mentioned the energy of 1995 and games like Crash Bandicoot. Do you think there is a similar level of excitement now?
There's the kind of attitude that we used to have back in the PS one days. Games are all about having fun, right? So we enjoy what we're doing, whether it's making games or communicating about them.
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