What prompted Future Publishing to launch FirstPlay?
We are always looking at ways to get our content gamers in ways that will suit them. To be able to deliver HD video content direct to the PlayStation 3 is an obvious benefit. We’ve been talking to PlayStation for a number of years about this idea and have developed it very much in partnership with them.
Because we are delivering the content directly to a PS3 it means we can use the console’s power to deliver broadcast quality HD content that is properly interactive – not only choosing what to watch but being able to link through to the Store and the web via the PS3’s built-in browser. And what we can honestly say is that the quality of the content is better than you will get anywhere – whether that’s on the web or on traditional broadcast TV.
How many consumers do you expect to reach with FirstPlay?
We are expecting a pretty big audience to build over time. We are launching in the UK at first but are in negotiation with other PAL territories and hope to spread throughout Europe and beyond over the next 12 months.
What other long-term goals do you have for FirstPlay?
We will be developing FirstPlay into a properly rounded service for PS3 gamers – bringing them the best gaming journalism and offering more and more in terms of downloads, extras and benefits for our users and subscribers.
So how do you plan to promote the service?
Again, the benefit here is that we can be very targeted in our advertising – our audience are all on the PS3. So we’re working very closely with PlayStation to reach that audience directly. Also we will use Future media – both in the games division via our websites GamesRadar and computerandvideogames.com or our magazines and our other young male-targeted media such as Total Film, T3 and SFX.
What kind of media do gamers want to consume through their consoles?
First and foremost the PS3 delivers great gaming experiences and FirstPlay is committed to bringing gamers closer to that experience, whether that’s through first looks and reviews of the big titles, or filtering the often baffling array of content available to download via the Store. However, we also see that the PS3 works as a platform and people are comfortable downloading add-ons, map packs, costumes and themes for their games, the latest movies to watch from the PlayStation Video Store or streaming music videos via a service such as VidZone.
What are the challenges for producing content for FirstPlay?
There are obvious challenges to getting 30 to 40 minutes of such high quality content out the door every week but we have a big and experienced team to do that. Because FirstPlay comes to users directly via their PS3 we also have to go through Sony’s quality assurance and online delivery systems, which means there is quite a long lead time for each episode.
How significant is FirstPlay to Future’s overall strategy?
We are keen to get our content onto as many platforms as our audience is using – whether that is magazines, the web, mobile or in this case, their consoles. In that sense it’s a continuation of our existing strategy.
Is there any interest in launching a similar service on other platforms, such as Xbox or PC?
We tend to be pretty agnostic when it comes to competing platforms – we have official licences to publish magazines for all the platform holders and also have specific websites for Nintendo and Xbox.
We think that the benefits of on-console media are going to be obvious and we have invested a lot of time, effort and, when it gets down to it, money on developing what we think is a new kind of media – and we are unlikely to want to give up our lead in this area.