Kaz Hirai on PS3... Pt. 2

Kaz Hirai on PS3... Pt. 2
When it comes to online, what does PS3 have that no-one else can offer? Why is it such a focus to you?
Games have always been the most important thing for our business and will continue to be, so I want to make sure that message gets across loud and clear. Our emphasis on bringing really compelling game content is always going to be priority number one – especially as I’ve said that PS3 is first and foremost a video games console.

We want to back that up with facts, if you will, with great content on the games side – both from internal studios and from our partners as well. Having said that, we’ve packed so much technology into PS3, we can offer so much more over and above the gaming experience.

More specifically – in example in the US – we have the video delivery service, plus Life With PlayStation, which is really a non-game approach that utilises the PS3. Home straddles both the game content and non-game side.

Those are just three examples of us embarking on a networked-slash-non-game arena.

We feel that expanding services in that area will enhance the PS3 over and above what we can do with our great games. We certainly have even more initiatives that we are discussing internally that make sure that we really enhance the entertainment experience overall for PS3.

Microsoft and Nintendo both announced things that were geared to putting their consoles in the hands of new, ‘family’ consumers. That was less of a message for you. Why was there that disparity? And do you think Microsoft can do it?
I really can’t speak for the Microsoft party, but I can tell you – and the part you missed in your question – about PS2. We are the only platform holder to have two home-based platforms. And they both cater to a somewhat different demographic.

We don’t have to rely on PS3 to appeal to everyone at this point in time. If we’re talking about the casual gamer, the PS2 is probably the right choice for them.

They can migrate to the PS3 when they feel it appropriate. We don’t need the PS3 to feel like the console that will appeal to everyone at this point.

Having said that, Jack [Tretton] talked at E3 bringing some of the more family, orientated, social gaming titles to PS3 because we’re into our second year and we want to start to migrate some of the consumers from the real hardcore gaming audience to somewhat more of our casual games as well – that’s why we’ll be bringing titles like Buzz! and Singstar to the PS3 as well.

We can do that do at the pace we feel comfortable, that we feel consumers feel comfortable as well – mainly because we have the advantage of being in the business with two consoles. We don’t need to have one console try to be everything to everybody just yet.

Is there a timeframe where you’ll start to try and push those functions to the more family-orientated audience?

Some of the functionalities like Home or Life With PlayStation and also the video distribution service in the US are functions that really appeal to the casual users of games – or literally non-gaming users.

think that’s a great way to bring additional consumers into the world of PlayStation. Once they join that family of PS3 users, they’re also able to discover: “Oh my God, there are great games here I never thought I’d be interested in, but I’m certainly going to go out and play Metal Gear Solid 4, Gran Turismo Prologue and Little Big Planet – another great family orientated game, by the way.”

A better question might be: When will PS3’s marketing change to reflect that?
That really depends on where we find ourselves in the lifecycle. We’re coming up to being three years into a ten-year lifecycle and we’ve only really begun to scratch the surface. Just as the PS2 marketing and positioning has evolved over the past ten years, we’ll make sure the PS3 messaging evolves as well.

Sony Europe has been very bold in its predictions for how digitally downloaded game sales will dominate the High Street in the future – and how the PS3 is setup for that. Can you put a timeframe on that?
That really depends on the territory we’re talking about and the broadband infrastructure. Some territories will get there faster, but at the same time, we need to make sure we understand the consumers’ emotional attachment to software. Many consumers like to have a physical library in their collection, and we need to respect that. Other consumers don’t want the bulk and want everything on their hard drive – and we need to respect that as well.

Microsoft has spent a lot of money on exclusive DLC, whilst Sony appears to be less bothered. Why is that the case?
You’re talking about exclusively downloadable content? Right. We divide that into two parts. One is the aspect of exclusivity, the other is downloadable content. First of all, on the exclusivity front – whether it’s downloadable or not – one of the unrivalled strengths that we have, and we’ve proven this time and time again, is the power of our internal worldwide studios. Our first-party product is obviously platform exclusive and is the best out there.

We’ve talked about a raft of great titles, whether that’s Little Big Planet, Resistance 2, SoCom, God Of War 3, Killzone 2, MaG or Motorstorm: Pacific Rift.

Secondly, if we talk about Blu-Ray, there’s a lot of capacity there. Our discussion with a lot of the publishers is about how the PS3 version of a game has the capacity to hold exclusive things consumers will be interested in – interviews with the makers of the game, documentary on the franchise or 'making of...' footage.

That’s as well as additional weapons, levels, tools and characters. Thos things very much differentiate our offering over and above different versions of the same game.

To read part one of our interview with Kaz, click here.

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