The PS4 is looking ahead to its next 10m sales - MCV

The PS4 is looking ahead to its next 10m sales

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1m sales in the UK. 10m units worldwide. PS4 has had the best possible start to life. But what now? And does a rapid rise mean a steep decline? MCV asks the man in the know, PlayStation CEO Andrew House...

So you've hit 10m worldwide at a record pace. Does that mean that we might see a steeper decline at the other end?

I don't necessarily think that that's the case. The critical thing is the ability to sustain the offering in a couple of ways. One is to continue delivering great games that have the most engaged consumers continuing to enjoy the platform. But there is also, for me, almost a burden on the console industry - if we are to repeat the success of the PS2 – to be able to make that transition into a more casual and family audience. Our emphasis is going to be looking for accessible but fulfilling games that reach the broader audience.

And also we'll have a sustained effort in having a full range of non-game, particularly digital and networked services, which attract another user within the family to engage with the platform. An initiative that I am very keen on in this context is our push towards delivering a cloud-based TV service in the US. There is nothing more mass market than the TV viewing experience. That is one example of how we can prevent the really steep fall that you alluded to.

You showed a lot of family friendly content at Gamescom. Do you feel you've already reached a level where you're going beyond the core gamer?

Yes, and the important thing is that it is not an either/or. The platform and, to a degree, the industry will be successful being able to sustain interest among multiple audiences at the same time for the same platform. That for me was our biggest core strength on PS2. I once regaled [PS4 architect] Mark Cerny with a story about how I had to convince our ad agency on PS2 that it was okay to put Barbie on the platform. Their brand purist view is that we could only talk about the dark and the edgy. It was something I took issue with and we had to pull a core gamer focus group so that they could say: I couldn't care less if you had Barbie on the platform. As long as you keep delivering what I want to play.” So I could then turn around and say: See. The platform can be more than just about one thing.”

"I once had to convince our ad agency on PS2 that it was
okay to put Barbie on the platform. Their brand purist view
is that we could only talk about the dark and the edgy. It
was something I took issue with and we had to pull a core
gamer focus group so that they could say: 'I couldn't care
less if you had Barbie on the platform. As long as you keep
delivering what I want to play.' So I could then turn
around and say: 'See. The platform can be more
than just about one thing.'"

Andrew House - CEO, PlayStation


You smashed your initial target of 5m PS4s sold into retail by the end of March 2014. Have you raised your lifetime projections?

We have to plan the business out two or three years ahead, and you have to be very conscious of the changing market. Smartphones and tablets largely didn't exist in the PS3 generation. So there will be these big trends that are going to impinge on our ability to predict the market. But we have definitely revised upward our overall plan that is for sure.

You've hit these numbers without the help of an Uncharted or Gran Turismo. Do we perhaps place a bit too much emphasis on those super titles to sell hardware?

Killer apps are important, but people have been looking for a range of content. There was also a sense of pent-up demand that surprised us. It was a very long lifecycle gap.

And the other shift has been the Wii U's performance. When I look at Europe, the family audience has gravitated towards PlayStation. Whereas, when you think about the previous generation, they found a different destination.

We spoke to EA last week, and it views EA Access [the subscription service that gives consumers access to multiple EA titles for a monthly or annual fee] as a good way to discover games. Sony has rejected Access for not offering good value. But surely a Netflix/Spotify-style service would be a good way to introduce games to new players?

PlayStation Now is a great example of that sort of service. The goal with our open beta for PS Now is working out what resonates with consumers. Is it individual rentals? Is it a rental-to-purchase model? Is it an all-you-can-eat subscription package? If so, how much should it cost? I think EA is trying to figure that out with Access.

What we are all doing is looking at other industries, most notably the music industry, and the shifts that have happened there. Last year was the first time that music downloads decreased year-on-year – by about six per cent. Streaming was up 32 per cent [in the US]. Clearly, consumers value the convenience of streaming. What we need to do is figure out a model that is fair to the customer but also sensible from a business perspective. Last time I checked, no-one is making money from streamed music services. Something's broken there. Labels are garnering their share, but the service provider is not gaining a viable business. That led us to
say: We need to be responsible about how we develop that model.” If the consumer doesn't think
they're getting good value, they're not going to subscribe or download or rent. But on the other hand, we have to make sure our content partners are paid.

"What we are all doing is looking at other industries, most
notably the music industry, and the shifts that have happened
there. Last year was the first time that music downloads
decreased year-on-year – by about six per cent. Streaming
was up 32 per cent [in the US]. Clearly, consumers value the
convenience of streaming. What we need to do is figure out a
model that is fair to the customer but also sensible from a
business perspective. Last time I checked, no-one is making
money from streamed music services. Something's broken
there. Labels are garnering their share, but the service
provider is not gaining a viable business."

Andrew House - CEO, PlayStation


Morpheus was available at its first consumer event last month [Gamescom]. Is virtual reality almost ready for gamers?

That isn't a sign that we're rushing to commercialise Morpheus. We said it'd be 2015 at the earliest, with a heavy emphasis on the ‘at the earliest'. It is such a brand new space, but we are garnering excitement. We have to strike a balance – we want to give people enough opportunities to try it and build enthusiasm for the product. But at the same time you don't want to oversell it when it is still very much at a nascent stage.

Why announce things like VR and streaming when they're not ready yet?

It's because of the huge bene

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