INTERVIEW: Robert Fisser, Sony PlayStation, Middle East and India

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We're just a month away from the Western launch of the PlayStation 4, and while launch dates and prices have also been announced for many other countries in Asia, we still don't know what Sony has planned for India.

With that in mind, we caught up with Robert Fisser, general manager for Sony's PlayStation business in the Middle East and India, to see if we could get more details on the company's launch plans for the sub-continent. We also talked about Sony's plans for the future of the PS3, local manufacturing of games (and their impact on prices), and the importance of India as a market for the PlayStation brand.

You've announced that the PlayStation 4 will launch in the Middle East on 13th December. When can we expect the India launch?

Firstly, just to rectify, we've only announced the date for the UAE, which is 13th December. There are still a number of events coming up, where we're looking forward to announcing the release dates for other markets. It's special what we're doing here [UAE], because we're releasing before Japan.

Can you maybe give us a release window that you're targetting for the PS4 launch in India? With the PS4 launching in Hong Kong and the UAE in December, if the India release is delayed, there is a risk of import units coming in from those countries.

Yes, we're behind the US as well, so we're trying to manage as well as we can. We understand that we need to keep that window as short as possible, and we're working very hard to ensure that.

What sort of pricing can we expect for the PS4 in India?

The pricing of the console has many factors. There's the production cost of the product itself, then there are local duties and other costs to be levied, and there's also the exchange rate. At the moment, the exchange rate for the Indian Rupee is quite volatile, so we're waiting as late as possible to firm up the price, because the more attractive we can price it, the better it is for everybody. But this is just one of the realities we have to deal with.

As far as games go, would PS4 games be priced the same as PS3 games?

I think for game prices we will adopt a similar strategy to what we have on PS3. Some games will come out with top-tier prices, and some will come out at lower prices.

A game like Watch Dogs, for example, which is on both PS3 and PS4, would the price be the same?

Watch Dogs is not one of our [Sony] titles, so I can't comment on what the publisher is going to do. Games like Killzone Shadow Fall and Knack are not on PS3, so it's difficult to make that comparison. Once we get closer to the launch of PS4 in India, we will confirm the price for the console, the games, and the accessories.

Sony has now started manufacturing PS3 games in India, but prices have remained high despite the lack of customs duties. Can you tell us why that is the case?

There are no import duties, but there are still other duties within in India itself so that sometimes offsets the cost as well. The way local manufacturing helps is that a price increase that we maybe should have implemented because of the exchange rate effect can be kept to a minimum.

With the PS2 now being phased out and the PS4 coming in, what are your plans for the future of the PS3 in India?

The PS2 is still available in India and will be post-Diwali and maybe all the way till the year ends. If there is demand, we can still continue with that. And like with PS2, the PS3 was an addition to the family. It offered the next-gen gaming experience and both could exist together in the market. Our plan with PS4 is not to replace PS3, but to run simultaneously next to it. The PS4 is an addition to the gaming family.

How do you view the India market for PlayStation in terms of the way the industry has progressed over the years and what you expect from it in the future?

The India market is really important for us, and we're investing a lot of resources into the market. Those resources come in through time, people, money and technology. Something like local replication is tesetament to our efforts of setting up infrastructure in India because we believe in that market.

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