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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 5 of 5

When it comes to Move, it's said to be easy to implement. I've heard this from multiple Sony executives. But getting people to build up ground-up titles isn't so much about tech. It's about inspiration. What is your goal when you talk to third parties? Is it to get them to implement Move into as many of their games as possible? Or is it about getting them to do ground up stuff?

RD: So, I spent some time reading the interview you did with Shu [Yoshida], and I have a very similar mindset that Shu has. There are certain games and certain genres that are great for motion gaming. I think the biggest problem that third parties have had with the Wii is that everybody had to implement everything with the Wii-mote, and a lot of games were never meant to have that kind of physical [interface]. It was supposed to be a D-pad only type of experience.

There are going to be some categories that are going to be absolutely spectacular with the Move. There are going to be some categories that are going to be very good with Natal.

Now, the big difference with the Move and the Natal, if you're going to do it with Natal, you're going to do it exclusive with Microsoft. That's not going to be the case for the Move. You have a code base that works across all three platforms.

How do you build that up and how you implement it into your game? Do I think you're going to see [inappropriate Move implementations]? Absolutely.

Our challenge here is to make sure you're doing it with the right games and the right genres, and that's where we're spending a lot of our time, going back to people and going, "Good idea. Bad idea. Good idea. Yeah, not so good idea."

Those are the types of things that we're trying to at least steer people away so they don't spend millions of dollars, come back to me and go, "Eh... It didn't sell." "Well, okay. You never should have made it. It was never going to work anyway. It didn't work on the Wii for a reason. That category didn't. Why did you think it was going to work on this one as well?"

What we're also trying to do, and again I agree with Shu, is take a hardcore experience like a SOCOM, that if people want to have an online shooter experience, they can go and do that. You and I can just blow our brains out, get our trophies, and have a great time.

But if my 7-year-old son wants to play it -- not suggesting he's going to be playing SOCOM, an M-rated game -- but if he wants to play a style of game like that, he can play at home and at least have a good experience, a much more casual experience, and not worry about having that hardcore experience. I still think that has some value and some relevance to it.

It seems like it's got to be a challenge. Do you feel like you're spread a little thin trying to get people to work with Sony? You have Move, PSP, regular PS3 games.

RD: [laughs] Call Jack. Tell him that for me, will you? It's the battle for resources. "Am I going to make an iPad/iPhone game? Am I going to do PC? What do I do for this particular feature? Oh, you want exclusive features, Rob?" Yeah. So, welcome to my world. And that is exactly it. I liken myself to plate-spinner. I've got to keep them spinning.

Now, the other part of it is, what are the priorities, or what's the flavor of the week, or the flavor of the month? Like we're having a big initiative with 3D. We want to make sure, given we're the only console that can do 3D, that we're going to have games out there that support it. We will. We're excited about that. But again, that's a whole 'nother category we're emphasizing.

Are you worried that with Move, games are just going to be ports across all of the 3D motion platforms? The Wii is full of shovelware. We all recognize that.

RD: Yes. And I think we can do a lot about that. Now, are there going to be things like that? Sure. We'll do everything we can, whether it's up-res, add trophies, and do things and make it network-only so you don't see it on a disc, but at the same time, we don't have to approve it if we don't want to go down that path.

The other thing you also see is less and less of that shovelware on the Wii, because people realize it costs money, they're not getting placement at retail. Even at a $19 or $9.99 price point, it doesn't sell. Why do I want to chase it on this category as well? We're not getting such a huge amount of concept submissions that we look at this and say, "You know what? We've got big problems." That's not been the issue.

I think people have gone back very conservatively at the beginning to say, "Okay. What's going to work on this?" They're taking lessons away, but also understanding, "Hey, you know what? Sony's going to go after this [motion control] for hardcore as well as the casual. Let's see what we can try and do, and let's see what's going to work for each one of these consumer groups."

You alluded to concept approval. Nintendo doesn't have it. Sony has had concept approval since day one with the PlayStation 1. What purpose do you think that serves in the market in 2010?

RD: Look, I don't want to be arbiter of taste. I want to give consumers that opportunity to decide if something is going to be successful or not, and I know how hard it is having sat on the other side, and gone through it... I saw some very capricious concept approval meetings. I know how hard those can be.

At the same time, I also see the benefit, particularly at retail when you have a limited number of slots and you're trying to get something placed, and you can't because there's so much crap out there. How you actually get your product to market. So we have continued to have concept approval in order to give a semblance of control.

But the other thing, too, is we don't want to race to the bottom. And if you were to talk to people at Apple, I think the first thing they tell you with regards to iPhone apps and iPhone... A couple of things went horribly wrong. You got a race to the bottom, price and quality-wise.

I mean, how many versions of Bejeweled do you need? 30 enough? 50? How many do you need? We prefer to say "one". We'd much rather be able to at least have an economy that people can make money on, and we don't want to be the first to get to the bottom. And that, to me, demands some level of concept approval.

I would assume that people are coming with games for Move which lead on Wii. They want to get them on your platform. Is there a problem?

RD: If it's day and date. If it's day and date, we'll work with them on it. If it's a port, then we'll move it a step, to the network. Unless it's something that they've done an incredible amount of adjusting... We want to be a one-to-one experience.

The Wii doesn't have a camera. We've got a camera. Use that camera, implement that in there. A lot of these guys don't want to. They just want to use the accelerometer and say, well... No. Not gonna happen. It doesn't work that way. Put the camera in there, make it work with that, get your trophies, up-res is, put some more content in, come on down.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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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.