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The Sony Situation: SCEA's Rob Dyer Speaks
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The Sony Situation: SCEA's Rob Dyer Speaks

May 21, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

What is the thrust of the PSP Minis initiative now? How do you think it's gone? How do you think it's going?

RD: I think it's gone okay. My concern with Minis always has been if you have a PSP or a PS3, do you want to play small bite-sized games like that? I think the jury's still out. I think in some instances they do, and some instances they don't.

My other concern with a lot of the Minis is they've been rehashed, recalibrated iPhone games that when you look at and review it, you're like, "Really? What are you doing differently here? Not much."

There have been a couple that have been really cool, but for the most part, a lot of it has been up-resed, recalibrated iPhone stuff.

How do you get it to where you want it to be?

RD: We've got to continue. Candidly, I think the guys in Europe have done a great job in proselytizing and getting into the mobile market, going out for guys that are local phone developers, putting resources and assets against them, educating them so they feel more comfortable getting on a more sophisticated box, and giving them the tools and the ability to put something a little better.

It's not like you have to spend a lot more money in order to get something that has a lot more impact for the platform.

You're saying that it's a shame that some of them are up-resed iPhone games. At the same time, is there enough of an audience for the Minis that the developers can risk a full investment in a Mini game?

RD: Sure. There is, because they're not wildly expensive, and you still get a great split. Are you going to be rich and retire? No. But is it something you can add to your portfolio? Absolutely.

Speaking of the PSP, there's been a tremendous fall off in North America in terms of support for the system. It's still doing extremely well in Japan.

RD: It's killing it in Japan. [In North America] you have Peace Walker that I think is going to do very good numbers. You're going to have some phenomenal support from Square. They have some great stuff coming. You have some great stuff from Capcom. Again, it's a lot of stuff from Japan...

We have EA Sports stuff that's going to be coming out. You're going to have Toy Story 3 on the PSP that's coming out. There's a number of titles from American publishers that will be there, but are we getting full-line support? No. I'm not going to bullshit you on that.

A lot of the stuff that will be announced at E3 we're very excited about, because they are huge titles. And we also believe that there's a way that you will be able to, not stop, but slow down the piracy in the first 30 to 60 days from a tech perspective. There's some code that you can embed that we've been helping developers implement in order to get people at least to see a 60-day shelf life before it gets hacked and it shows up on BitTorrent.

That's been the biggest problem, no question about it. It's become a very difficult proposition to be profitable, given the piracy right now. And the fact that the category shrunk inside of retail.

We're going to fix retail. First party has done a great job of getting some campaigns in place to do that. We have some very big third-party titles, notably from Japan. We will have a good line-up this year. And hopefully, by virtue of that, we'll carry through to next year as well.

You unveiled PlayStation Move during GDC. Clearly, as with anything, that's been in R&D for a long time. When did you start talking to people about it?

RD: We started talking about it Q4 of last year. Calendar Q4. Early calendar Q4. So, October timeframe.

We've seen the Natal. We saw that tech. We passed on it. We knew what we wanted our tech to be once we settled on that. Coming out of summer, going into fall, we said, and once it was finalized, we were able to look at this and say, "Okay. Let's get it out to third parties."

This goes to the essence of my job right now. I am in a battle for resources. My entire job is convincing a third party publisher, EA and Activision, whoever, where you put your resources. Are you putting your resources against a Natal title, a Move title? Are you putting it against PSP? Are you putting it against 3DS? Where are you putting your resources? That's what I spend my time on.

What we used to be able to do at PS2 and say, "Hey, we got this great idea. Support us." Which they did. You can't do that anymore. You have to be able to go in there with a very fleshed out business model, a very fleshed out campaign.

So, when we first started that [process with Move], we didn't have that at that time. Went through, saw what the questions were right after the new year, went out again, revisited the top 15 publishers and some key independent developers, showed them what retail reaction had been.

That presentation you saw at GDC we showed the previous month all the third parties. They saw that. They saw what was happening. They had a chance to witness the games being played. They saw a lot of the same stuff that you guys saw. So it was no more of that, "Okay. It's pie in the sky." It's real.

So, going into GDC, I had a very good sense of who was supporting us, what was going to be there initially. And since then, I've now got a solid 12 month window of who's doing what.

One of the things that's come back is that third parties haven't been talking to retail because they're just now getting to a point where they can show stuff. So, you're going to see stuff at the floor at E3 that hasn't been talked about, that hasn't been announced, that we haven't talked about, that we haven't announced because the third parties haven't.

So, they're going to be there doing this stuff, and they'll be showing it to retailers for the first time because they've just now, they're going to be at that six-month point, and they're going to have something that's going to make a very big impact.

So, I'm walking into Move feeling pretty damn good about it, given how quickly people are [adjusting]. Now, if that tech was harder or if it took longer, I think people might walk away from E3 a little disappointed not being able to see stuff. I'm not going to get that sense.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

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Rev. Stuart Campbell
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Piracy is what's killing the PSP, is it? What a giant crock of bollocks.

Ujn Hunter
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Do you ever intend on allowing users who want to keep their "Other OS" Installation to purchase and download items from the Playstation Store again? I have DLC codes that I have paid for that I cannot redeem because you've locked me out of the Playstation Store. Seems kind of bad for business to not allow your customers to purchase your content, no?

Jeremy Reaban
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I don't like his dismissal of the Minis program. Sure, many of them are simply iPhone ports. But at the same time, maybe he should have noticed that the PSP gets almost no new software releases in the West these days? Western developers have dropped it almost completely, all you get from them is the occasional sports game (not even all of those, EA dropped NCAA football this year). Mostly though it's localizations of Japanese titles.

So Minis might often just be iphone rehashes, but they are at least something. Which is better nothing, which is what the PSP normally gets. Especially PSPGo owners, as many UMD releases are not on the store, or if they get added, it's weeks to months later.

Andrew Strozier
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The way that Sony has really missed the potential of the PSP is quite sad. I've had a PSP since day one in the U.S., and I've seen more impressive developments by hackers and homebrew programmers than I have from Sony. People who pirate PSP games have had the ability to play almost any one of them without UMD for several years now, whereas the official avenue for doing so only has a fraction of the PSP library available for download, and this only happened recently. Sony should be actively pushing and helping developers get their UMD-released games on the Playstation Network to download, and then advertising the then-large library of high quality games available for purchase online. Having such a system would make the rarity of the game irrelevant, giving those who are looking to purchase a new gaming system less likely to worry that they couldn't find enough reason to justify purchasing a PSP (when it comes to game selection).

I don't buy the whole piracy-is-killing-the-PSP argument either, although it's definitely a contributor. I would argue that the Nintendo DS is even more vulnerable to piracy, yet well made games still manage to sell very well.

Also, the fact that Sony hasn't and isn't pushing the online connectivity part of the PSP is mind boggling. Sony's system has a clear advantage over Nintendo's in terms of community and ease of friend connection, yet I've seen few PSP games to really take advantage of the feature. The console maker really has to set the example on the system for third parties to follow (big third party publishers excluded).

Paul Turbett
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Wrt Minis, i think it's to be expected that with a new initiative like that, developers will re-use existing IP to test the waters and see what kind of response they get. Now that the program has been around a while, it's more likely that original games will come out, assuming that the first generation of ports are profitable.

Robert Green
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I'm sure you could argue that piracy has had a decent effect on the PSP, and that Sony have missed a few opportunities to really push the system (especially the lack of an upgrade path to the PSPGo), but I think if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture there might be a different possibility. i.e. what if the PSP failed as a concept?

From the beginning the goal of the PSP seemed to be to bring the type of games people were playing at home to the portable market. But it didn't work, did it? Looking at the sales, the tie ratio for PSP is exceedingly low. Even with nearly 60 million units out there, the very best games struggle to sell a million, where games on other platforms reach that mark almost every month.

Looking at the games themselves, we see two things. Firstly, [on metacritic] there are only 22 games rated 85+, while the 360 has managed 88 in a shorter time period. Secondly, many of those 22 games (tekken, GTA, wipeout, burnout, MGS) are the same game types as the home console versions, with little to no effort made to customise them to the usage scenarios of a handheld. This seems to be what Sony wanted, and yet these games don't rate as highly or sell as well as the versions on other consoles.

The success of the iphone/itouch as a gaming platform and the fact that even a first-rate game like GTA: Chinatown Wars has trouble topping a million sales leads me to conclude that the market for what the PSP offers is actually much smaller than imagined, while the market for short, casual, mass market gaming on a handheld is still very large. Put simply: only a small subset of gamers really want that kind of experience. A lot more may have thought they did, but the quantity of games they've bought suggests they have realised their error. And as for the other things the PSP offers (music playing, video playing, internet browsing over Wi-fi), those things are clearly better served by other devices.

Blame failures in execution if you want, but I think the primary failure is the concept.

Anthony Charles
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there better be some real impressive move content at E3 if Sony hopes to turn back the tide of negativity. its almost like, the playstation has overcome the mistakes of its launch just in time for them to be made again w/ move.

Boto Gatas
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The way this guy expresses himself is so broken/difficult for a person like me who doesn’t have English as his native language to understand.