How aggressively is Sony going to be tackling online in consoles, going forward? What do you think of the other offerings that are up now?
PD: We're attacking online very, very aggressively. We do have a different approach. The other offerings are just fine, and they do things really well, but that's not to say that we feel like we have to do everything they're doing. First and foremost, we offer online for free, and our competition charges people to get online. We've got a different philosophy and a different business model. As Phil talked about in our press conference, we're building things specifically for our devices, and delivering them online. The devices themselves help show off that content. For example, whereas our competition takes a bunch of old content and catalogs content from previous generations and offers that in a download fashion, our development organization are making games specifically for PS3. When you download them, they're in 1080p, and they're showing off what's going on with Cell and the PlayStation 3 technology.
We also have a hard disk drive in every box, which means that we don't have to be constrained by an arbitrary file format size. We can make things as small or big as we want. People don't associate a game like Warhawk as a downloadable game, but it will be available for download. It's a different approach. And then you get into Home, which again I think is a major point of difference. Online communities have existed, and they're traditionally 2D and text-based. To date, they've done that well, but what Home does is that it leapfrogs the current offering and delivers something that people haven't even imagined yet.
Microsoft's offering is a little more streamlined, because it's been around longer. They've got friends, and leaderboards and stuff. Nintendo, on the other hand, is still using friend codes, and it's difficult to access. You seem to be in between in terms of the friends issue. How do you see that going?
PD: You're right. Microsoft has been doing it for awhile, and we've been doing it for seven months. We've been making improvements as we go, but there's still a lot more improvements that we need to make. The notion of friend lists and our version of Achievements -- you've probably seen plans for the Hall of Fame and trophies.
I think these things will greatly enhance the community and the ability to communicate with your friends. You can fire up the game directly from Home. All of these things I think will be great for the community. They're not all in yet, but I think it would be fair to give us a little bit of time not just to catch up, but to deliver our version and our vision. On Microsoft's side, I think they too are enhancing their service, and it wasn't so long ago that they got to downloading in the background. We can't get there in one day.
It's been striking me recently that having the best online platform may be more of a factor in terms of who is going to be a leader in the future. I'm not sure if you feel similarly. I know Nintendo is going to have to do a lot of catching up soon.
PD: I think it's an interesting theory, but do you put Nintendo in the same camp? Is online as important for the Wii as it is for the 360 and PS3?
It depends. It may be. If it were in great shape, it would be as important. Since it's not, it's got other things that are being focused on.
PD: I shouldn't speak for them, but my perception of their approach is that they're targeting someone very different for the Wii. They talk about bringing in non-gamers, and therefore the importance of delivering an online gaming experience to someone who has never played a game is probably not as critical as it is to the PS3 or 360.
It depends on the angle. Casual games are mostly online, and a lot of them are head-to-head online, and that's the market they're going for, with casual online games and (Ea's casual division) Pogo and things like that. Those are the kinds of experiences that they probably aiming for.
PD: Back to your question -- online is a very critical piece of the puzzle, and we know it's something we've got to get right. We're wildly excited about points of difference like Home, but the core online game playing environment that the PS3 offers is very robust already. The big differentiator for us is the content that you'll be able to download.
[We've got] games like Echochrome, Pain, Warhawk, SOCOM, and a bowling game that uses the Sixaxis controller. There's a broad range of content that we've offering on the PlayStation Network. In addition to those 15 Blu-ray games that our worldwide studio organization will make this year, there are 80 PlayStation Network offerings that they're making.
Sony's highly ambitious dragon action game, Lair for the PS3
I was wondering if the whole issue of finding out what people are really enthusiastic about or not is why we haven't heard about Lair in a long time.
PD: I'm not sure. People are really excited about Lair. It's been a big focus of ours, and the game is finaling soon and will be coming to market, so I think there's a lot of people who are really fired up about it.
I know it wasn't at this press conference, and it wasn't one of the major talking points. It feels like it's been pushed off to the side since the most recent previews.
PD: Certainly that wasn't our intent. I think it's more a function of having an hour and a half press conference and 50 games that are more forward-looking. Lair is having an imminent release, and the Lair PR cycle is coming to an end. We've got reviews on Lair that are coming out now. It wasn't as important to say, "Lair's coming!" because we feel that people already know that.