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At Home with Phil Harrison
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At Home with Phil Harrison

March 19, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next


GS: Can you say if it came from user demand, or if it was your own idea?

PH: It was a few ideas that came from a few different places coalescing into one visual expression of the Hall of Fame. Not just the games you own, but the games that you will own, I think is a really powerful part of it, and not just the trophies that you have, but also being able to see the trophies that other people have won. You can see who is the fastest Gran Turismo player. You can see who has got the best score on Blast Factor. Those are very compelling community elements, and people have responded very strongly to that so far.

GS: Will you be able to isolate just your friends or things like that in any way? Either in the Hall of Fame or in Home?

PH: Yes, absolutely. That's key to it.

GS: So it's nice that Sony developers are able right now to make these smaller download games like Jaffe is and the Lair guys and things like that. How is that feasible from a cost perspective? It's certainly a lot more expensive to have David Jaffe making this tiny game, because you still have to pay his salary, versus having Jenova Chen making flOw; it's slightly different. How is that working for you?

PH: Well, it's what I do. I invest in creativity, and I invest in creative risk. It's my job to make sure that I have a balance.

GS: Are you confident that the return is such that it makes sense to have someone with a more highly established console ability making these?

PH: I think it's the most important thing, having David Jaffe create a game for the PlayStation Network. It validates everything about the strategy: a very high profile creator who has got a proven track record and an excellent wide variety of game types dedicating his passion and his creativity to a game for the PlayStation Network. It makes me very happy that he wants to do that. And he is having a blast doing it. You should talk to him, he's really enjoying what he's doing.

GS: I know he's really wanted to go back to that sort of thing for a long time, so it's nice that that ability exists. And does that ability exist across the board for Sony's developers? Have you been mining existing developers for future games in that space?

PH: Absolutely. We've got over 50 products in development right now for the PlayStation Network.

GS: In-house?

PH: Combination of internal and external.

GS: The partnership with Xfire was just for one game, it turned out. Initially we thought that was going to be for more things, in terms of connectivity and Achievements and things. Will Sony be building this sort of thing into its own games from now on, since you have Home here?

PH: Home is a service that runs on top of the PlayStation Network itself. The PlayStation Network as a set of features continues to grow, so we will continue to add functionality, features, and sophistication to it. As we do that, Home will also grow by nature of the fact that it sat on top of that platform.

GS: Will hardware-supported network play be available for developers? Right now, the developers have to take the initiative to implement their online structure. Is this moving toward a scenario where Sony provides that structure, and developers just plug into it, ala the Xbox 360?

PH: We still believe strongly that developers and publishers should choose how they build out their network offerings, but with things like Home, and some of the additional functionality of the PlayStation Network, we're empowering developers with more tools and more features.

GS: So, that's yes and no?

PH: Your words, not mine!

GS: Do you think that Blu-ray will be as important to the PS3 as DVD was to the PS2, or is it a slightly different scenario? People bought PS2s over other consoles at the time because it was an affordable DVD player that also played games.

PH: I think that Blu-ray Disc as a movie format is vital for PlayStation 3, but it's more necessary as a game format. We need that storage space. You know from talking to developers who know what the demands are for next-generation games, in terms of storage space. They are having to compromise on other systems in order to fit their games onto DVD.

I think what the difference between PS2 as a DVD player and PS3 as a Blu-ray Disc player -- and I'm going to get shot for saying this -- but on PS2, we didn't make the best DVD player. On PS3, it's the best Blu-ray Disc player. So that is a big difference. I think as Blu-ray Disc as a format starts to gain greater momentum, more consumer electronics devices coming out at lower prices you're going to see the "Best Buy" effect -- growing out more space to the category in their stores. You're going to see more racks dedicated to Blu-ray Disc movies in retail stores as well.

I was telling somebody earlier on that the thing I remember about the launch of PlayStation 2 was that there was a big HMV store on Oxford Street right near my office, and the movie home video section had one or two aisles dedicated to DVDs, and sixteen dedicated to VHS. Within a matter of weeks, that had almost been completely inverted. I think the same will happen on Blu-ray Disc movies, though that might take a little longer, because we're at a much earlier point in the cycle. DVD was a little bit more established in the marketplace when the PS2 shipped.

GS: And it's also a little less obvious. You've got tape-to-disc versus disc-to-another type of disc. Conceptually, it's little bigger leap for some consumers.

PH: There is also the network effect. When you go around to somebody's house and watch a movie on Blu-ray Disc on an HD display, you're like, "Oh, OK, I'm never going back to DVD."

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