PlayStation Frontiers: A Tour Of SCEA San Diego
August 22, 2007 Page 2 of 8
At Microsoft, they're mandating that extra downloadables like that be paid for. Is that similar at Sony?
JM: It's a little bit of both. For the most part, it's a paid service, because a lot of it is already free. As far as expanded content goes, we're hoping that the lower price point of PSN titles will drive people to purchase expanded content.
How did you evolve from the 989 name?
JM: With a large talent pool like this, we wanted to have the ability to utilize that creativity and talent on a larger basis, so we decided to merge the studios. 989 was associated with sports, and we were studio two -- we never really had a name. Since we're all together, we didn't feel that 989 did it justice anymore, so we switched it over to a single title. We also wanted to be consistent with Santa Monica.
The 989 brand was always Sony internal, right?
JM: It has gone through many different iterations. It was internal, then external, then internal.
Do you have any concerns in the sports arena about competition with Electronic Arts, given that they've been snapping up long-term licenses?
JM: Like anything else, competition is healthy. We don't do a football game anymore, but the strength of our baseball and basketball franchises are getting progressively better year by year. Last year, baseball was a massive hit, and I see basketball headed in that same direction. You just have to overcome the barriers associated with people saying, "This was my favorite game before." Once you start to beat that expectation year after year, people will gravitate towards the better product.
What are the benefits of San Diego, as a studio?
JM: The locale is fantastic, first of all, as an incentive for getting talent here. San Diego is within two hours' driving distance of many things that are interesting to people. From an SCEA perspective, we have on-site QA, our IT group, our mocap and cinematics studio, access to marketing, access to promotions, access to legal, and our sound studio is here as well. From a product development standpoint, it's a one-stop shop for us.
Multiple disciplines are spread across multiple buildings here. Is that beneficial, or do you find that people wind up not communicating as much?
JM: It hasn't hindered us at all. Part of communication is knowing who you're supposed to talk to and when, and in product development, you have milestones when you know you have to get the audio group involved, for example. Everyone here is great about getting up and going to talk to [whoever is needed], so it's not an issue. Intermixing everyone would be fantastic, but you'd have to have an airplane hangar to do that. If we had some cinematics people over here and some over there, that segregation is going to hurt their ability to do their job and share their expertise with their team members.
Some people talk about more vertically sliced development, where you make a chunk a game at a time, so you have artists and designers working together in tandem.
JM: Absolutely. We do that here. We have our art side and our design side, and there's separation, but never a day goes by where there's not meetings about that stuff. We've got a bunch of different communication channels we use. We use an asset control called AlienBrain. We use Instant Messenger, LotusNotes, and phone and verbal communication to a large degree. Having a small team like this, there isn't an issue of not being able to talk to someone if there is a problem.
How many people are here at the studio?
JM: There's 32 people right now, and 28 those are product development. The others are external, an admin, and myself.
Is that across all of these buildings?
JM: Just this building right here.
How about the entire San Diego studio?
JM: It's about 450 employees, including the service groups and administration. As far as product development goes, we've got about 200 people.
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