Kikizo: So first of all, how does it feel to now be the global president of Sony Computer Entertainment?
Kaz Hirai: It’s something that really excites me, and I thrive on challenges. I will be making sure that the relationship between the headquarter office in Japan, and the regional headquarters that we have in Europe, the US, Japan and Asian, work well and effectively, to grow the PlayStation business further.
Can we talk about Ken Kutaragi. I was on a show recently that wanted my opinion on the stance which some might take that Ken was ‘pushed’ What would you say to that?
You know that he’s a man full of ideas, and that resulted in what we know today as the PlayStation business. And, you know, he is still full of a lot of different ideas, some of which we just can’t do in a Sony Computer Entertainment environment. I think he just wanted to branch out and really try on some of these new ideas, because he once told me – not too long ago – he said, "I’m not getting any younger, but I have so many things I want to do, and I’m going to get out there and try these ideas" – and all credit to him. I’m keeping a close eye on him because he has some great ideas which I know are going to be the next big thing.
One thing that you and I spoke about last time was about the Sixaxis, motion, and rumble. But you guys have now reached an agreement with Immersion I believe. When do you think that we may learn more about a product that reflects this agreement?
Well that’s something that I know the consumers have told us they’re looking to have in the PS3 controller, it’s something that we’re obviously looking at, now that we’ve reached an agreement with Immersion. We’re also looking at a variety of other things that we can incorporate with the controller, and we’ll come out with announcements when we think we have the right mix of features for the PS3 controller. I mean, as you know, that’s also an evolving peripheral, if you will, in that we started out with the original PS1 controller with no analogue, and it’s come all the way to this point, so obviously, as we go forward, it’s not the final model for a PS3 controller, so we’ll see what comes down the road.
One thing think I noticed about Sony’s E3 conference is that Jack Tretton’s tone towards the close seemed almost apologetic and very appreciative of the media continuing to support Sony. Is that an attitude that is reflective of the whole of the SCE group at the moment?
Well, I think he mentioned that, "past success is no guarantee of future success", I think we all realise that; we’re not the only company in the business, and that we need to prove, time and time again, with every generation of console, not just once but every year, that we’re committed to delivering the best entertainment experience possible – mostly and predominantly through the game offerings. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we meet and hopefully exceed the expectations that the consumers have from the PlayStation brand and the PlayStation family of products, whether it be PS3, PS2 or PSP.
Can you comment briefly on your hardware pricing strategy at the moment?
Well what I can say, is that the immediate, short-term strategy for the platform, including the hardware, is two things: one is to make sure that between first and third party that we provide great game content to all the consumers and fans around the world. I’ve said that we’re looking forward to bringing out about 200 PlayStation 3 titles on disc on a worldwide basis, so that’s a very important strategy for us; the other is obviously cost reduction on the hardware, as quickly and as aggressively as possible, and that’s something that our engineers are working on every day. Both are very important; you can have cost reduction on the hardware, but if you don’t have great software, you’re not going anywhere. So in my book, software is the most important driver of this business, no matter what kind of metric you’re applying to, but a close second is obviously the hardware cost reduction.
Across your different platforms, what are you most excited about?
Wow, that’s always a hard question! But, on the Network side, one of the titles – it’s not really a title but a service that I’m really excited about – is the service we call PlayStation Home. I think that’s got a lot of potential, and great buzz, after we debuted it at GDC, and we have high hopes for really bringing a different kind of experience to the PlayStation users around the world. And this is a Network title; between all the Network titles that I know are coming out, one that excites me for its elegant simplicity but fantastic-looking gameplay is Echochrome – that one has got me excited. And the other once, since I love cars, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, looking beautiful. You know, when I first saw GTHD, that was looking great, but boy, you know! Kazunori’s done a great job.
This interview first featured on specialist gaming website Kikizo