The state of Play

Ben Parfitt
The state of Play

Can you give MCV a full update on PS3 sales?

We have now gone through the one million sell-through mark across all PAL territories. And we’ve done that in nine-and-a-half weeks. That’s faster than both PS2 and PSOne. And I think the analysts out there will realise that it’s also faster than our competitors.

In terms of breakdown by European territories, the UK did very well. It probably makes up around 25 per cent of the business. We’re also particularly pleased with Iberia and France. Those two territories are neck and neck.

Also, this time we launched into our distributor territories, such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe – and that’s given us quite a boost, not only on hardware but software as well. Russia’s the same. The Middle East and Russia are quite lucrative markets, with a lot of wealthy people there.

We’ve launched into about 100 territories. If you include places like San Marino and the Vatican, we’ve got about 107 territories on board in total – that means we’re about 95 per cent of the way there.

And what about software?

We’ve sold in about two million pieces of first party software. The big ones are Resistance: Fall of Man at about 600,000 units and Motorstorm at just over the 500,000 mark. We’re obviously very happy that these two new IPs have done so well.

There’s been some grumbling recently – from the trade and consumers – that there’s been something of a lull in terms of releases since the original launch line-up. What would you say to that?

Yes, that’s probably true from a first party point of view. But I don’t believe that June, July and August will be a quiet period generally. There are some very good third party titles coming in those months. Our big bangs will be arriving around September and October. Phil [Harrison] will be announcing these at a later date, but they will probably be in the arena of social gaming  as well as more traditional titles.

Any news on when the 20GB version will launch in PAL territories? And also the 80GB console?

I can confirm that it’s highly unlikely that the 20GB version will be launched in PAL territories.
The majority of retailers are happy that we launched with just the one unit. It has made things simple for them.

As for the 80GB console, there are markets like Korea where there’s very high broadband penetration and the people are used to downloading content, so they require a certain size hard drive.

But at the moment we don’t see a requirement for launching this version in Europe – certainly not in the foreseeable future.

Where are you up to with PlayStation Network?

In terms of registered PlayStation Network users, we’re at around the 460,000 mark, which we’re very happy about. We have about about 100 pieces of content online in PAL territories. And we’ve achieved that in ten weeks.

I don’t feel that we’re competing with Xbox Live; we feel we’re in a very different stadium.

And with the introduction of Home at Christmas, we’re taking things in a completely different direction with something very entertaining.

We don’t have our eyes on the competition in any way.

On to PSP… how have sales been since the price drop?

We went to €169 across Europe over the period of a month, starting with France and Spain and then on to Germany last week.

We phased the roll-out of the price cut because we needed to make sure we had the right stock. And we’ve seen a very, very lively uptake. We’ve seen sales increase by 40 per cent in most territories. And there’s also been a strong upturn in software sales. We’re pleasantly surprised that just by going down by €30, we’ve seen such an increase in sales.

Any news on the rumours about PSP 2? And what about the PSP phone that Sony has reportedly taken out an exclusive patent on?

In terms of the restyled PSP, I don’t know when it’s coming. I think that Sony, in its unique style, will be working on a new version, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment.

As for the PSP phone, I know the head of Sony Ericsson very well. He has a Walkman phone and a Cybershot mobile phone, but I know nothing about a PSP variety. I haven’t heard anything about it at all – and I would know. They wouldn’t develop it without our knowledge.

Despite all the hype being about your two newest consoles, PS2 is obviously still very popular. Exactly how well is it doing?

We are in our seventh year now and at the moment it is tracking just a little below last year. Which is very good. And it has surprised us. The longevity of the format hasn’t surprised us, but how strong it’s been has. We have said to third parties when they’re trying to predict an installed base that we’re looking at 50 million units.

But we think it might go like PSOne and stick around at least ten years and so it might go over that figure. We’re also seeing some good software numbers – not just from ourselves with things like God of War II, but also for third parties on ‘tier two’ software.

Sony UK has been running a UK promotion at retail, selling back catalogue titles at £9.99. Does this indicate any movement on the software price bands?

There was some old software – things like Dog’s Life and Syphon Filter – which has been sold at a £9.99 price point. But we have said to Sony UK that we are going to stop it.
So that no one misunderstands, when we’ve sold it through, that’s it. We’re not going to continue with the offer.

That’s not the way we want to go. Certainly not this year. Maybe the over-enthusiasm of the people in the UK got the better of them.

I think that at some point we will look at that low price point, but it’s too early right now and we believe that it would devalue the market too quickly. I’m not denying it might happen in the future. It probably will. But now is too early.


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