GS: Can you talk specifically about achievements for PS3? Will they be there, are they supported on the PS3, and have they been integrated into launch titles?
DK: No, what we’re trying to do with the Open Access platform is allow the game developers to dictate what the network experience is for the consumer. The majority of the networking features, aside from things like chat, texting, and emailing, you know, the basic community stuff, is all found basically in the game. So we’re allowing the games to set up the ranking, the achievements, and those different elements. Frankly, how I view it is I don’t care if you’re great at Madden if I’m playing you in Resistance. Because that doesn’t tell me you’re that much better in Resistance. An overall score doesn’t really tell me much, it tells me you’ve spent a lot of time online, it tells me you spend a lot of time playing games, but it doesn’t tell me how good you are at a particular game. I’d much rather have Resistance set up a leaderboard so I know who I’m going up against, rather than somebody who’s great at Madden.
GS: So ranking and matchmaking and whatnot, as well as connectivity is done on the software side?
DK: Yes, done 100 percent on the software side. We’ll host that kind of stuff on our servers if they want, or they can host it on their own servers, it’s up to them. Of course a company like EA is going to want to host it on their own servers, probably. But we do have, in our network, the ability to see who you’ve played against, and what games you’ve played against them in, so you can see if somebody is online, who you thought was really good at Resistance, but you hadn’t added them to your friends list yet, you will see them pop up in that category.
GS: And how does the friends list work with Xfire? Will the friends list from the desktop be transferable into games, or…?
DK: That’s totally a question for SOE, because their game is the only one that’s supporting Xfire out of the box. So they’re building their community based on Xfire.
GS: And can you say if there will be a larger friends list community that can be integrated into games, or not?
DK: Again, allowing the developers to do whatever they want. SOE announced they want to work with Xfire, great, we applaud them. It’s not something on the hardware side that we’re supporting at the moment.
GS: I’m curious to know why Sony of America has been kind of avoiding some of the Sony Europe titles that have been popular over there, some of the more party game type titles, like Buzz or Singstar.
DK: Well we take a look at all of the games from around the world, and we evaluate them for what’s appropriate for the market, and what’s appropriate for the timing of the hardware in the market. So that’s not to say you won’t see those titles, whether they’re from Europe, Japan, or wherever, eventually make their way over to the United States, that’s been the rule forever. I mean you can see games that have been on the market in Japan for a year or two before they make it to the United States. A lot of that has to do with where you are in the lifecycle of the product, and have you reached the demographic that would actually be the person to buy that game.
GS: Is that also the reason why budget titles aren’t really allowed over here? I know that in Europe, Sony has the biggest chunk of the market by far – but budget, that is to say inexpensively-produced, titles are plentiful. Why not here?
DK: Yeah, that’s all based on the market. It’s all based on what the market will allow. You take a look at what holes you can fill into the market, and in Europe they said ‘we have the opportunity to dominate in low-priced games, let’s do it.’ I think 2K games did that with their sports titles a few years ago so they could gain ground against some of their bigger competitor, and that’s exactly what they did, they took a look at it and said, we can make back the margins on volume, if we sell this many, by selling cheaper.
GS: Yeah, it’s just rough because a company like them can do it, as they have big muscle behind them – releasing that level of project for a budget price, rather than releasing what we think of as a budget game.
DK: Yeah, and there are obviously a lot of things that go into it, like the price of development, which is a huge factor in deciding where you price your game.