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GS: Was there any reluctance on the Sony side given that you’d worked on both the 3DO and the Dreamcast?
DK: (laughs) You know what, I’d like to think we did excellent, excellent PR for those guys. We got a lot of coverage. With the Dreamcast, we got excellent coverage for it. But at the end of the day, those systems didn’t fail because of bad PR, they failed because they didn’t get the third party publisher support, or the retailer support. I mean you can ask anybody and they’ll tell you that the Dreamcast was a superior system.
DK: But when EA tells you they’re not going to back your hardware, that’s pretty much the death nail in the coffin, right there. Same with 3DO. We came out with 3DO at $799. And it was the first 32-bit 3D-based game machine, but it was priced so high, and the target of what they thought it would be, you know, the entertainment box of the living room…it was way before its time.
GS: So do you think we’re finally into that entertainment box of the living room era yet? I know Kutaragi keeps trying to brand the PS3 as a computer in Japan, and it doesn’t go over as well over here.
DK: Yeah, well first and foremost, our target here in the U.S. is gamers. And no one should think any different. We are first and foremost a gaming company, targeting gamers. That being said, there’s a lot of stuff in the box that makes it a very appealing entertainment platform. You’ve got Blu-Ray player, you’ve got a harddrive, which is probably the biggest element, in terms of being able to download content, whether it be games, television shows or movies, and then add to that the online content to allow those downloads. All of a sudden it does become something that you look at and say ‘well you know, it’s a TiVo that plays games.’ It has all the same elements that that box would have.
GS: So what do you do when he says something like ‘PlayStation 3 replaces your computer?’ I mean, you can’t really refute him.
DK: I think people need to understand that Ken is a visionary for the industry, and the stuff that he talks about is not always necessarily the here and now, it’s what we’re looking to do down the road, like where the industry should be heading. At TGS he brought up a lot of things about downloadable delivery, user-created content, and that’s not stuff that’s going to happen 100% today, but is something that down the road is going to happen. So I think when Ken talks about things like a super-computer for your home, it is technically right. This is the most powerful computer you can have in your home for this price. There’s no way around it. I think it’s our role to take his message and interpret it for our demographic over here, which is the gaming community, and explain to them what that means.
GS: Do you think it has been, or will be a difficult road for the PS3? There’s definitely a lot of consumer anticipation for the system, but also a lot of backlash. Do you think that backlash is deserved?
DK: The backlash that we’re seeing, a lot of it comes from being number one in the market. And it’s not interesting if somebody just succeeds and succeeds and succeeds. I think a lot of this falls on the shoulders of the media. You don’t sell magazines or blogs by saying Sony’s great, Sony’s great, Sony’s great. That doesn’t generate reader interest, people want to see that maybe there are some chinks in the armor. But at the end of the day if you’d ask people if they’d like a PS3 or nothing at all, they’re gonna say I want a PS3!
GS: (laughs) Well sure…
DK: But at the end of the day, the consumers are going to vote with their wallets. I think there has been a lot of negativity around Sony recently just because people have such high expectations for the system. And I think following recent events like Sony’s Gamers Day, where we answered a lot of those questions - what are the games, what’s coming in the box, what does the online service look like - the tide has kind of turned a little bit. We’re seeing a lot less negative stories about us, unrelated to batteries, and people are starting to ask questions about Microsoft. Like here comes Sony, now what are you going to do about that? That’s instead of the other way around, which it used to be: How on earth are you going to beat Microsoft?
GS: It did seem like there were a number of mis-statements, and this may be a media misperception, but did you have to work to rein people in and make sure they’re on message?
DK: I don’t know that it was a lot of mis-statements, the problem that we had was because there wasn’t anyone in this position that I’m in right now, we weren’t driving the message. We were allowing media to drive the message for us, and interpret it for us. So allowing someone like Peter Moore, who’s a good friend of mine, to stand up there and say negative things about Sony, there wasn’t anybody refuting that. People just took that for face value. Now we’re very aggressively defending our turf, and attempting to right all the wrongs that have been said about us in the past, which includes misrepresentation of quotes from our executives. I think you’ve probably seen the difference, just in the last couple months, where if somebody goes out and says something negative about Sony, we’re not going to sit back and allow that. We’re going to position it properly, and provide the facts.
GS: Do you think we’ll ever get back to the days of trash talking between companies, along the lines of Sega’s “Pretendo” campaign?
DK: You know what, we’ll never get back to those days unfortunately! No, our goal is never to bash our competition. I think all of our competitors have done a great job of addressing the needs of their target consumer, and they’re advancing things with their technology and what they’re doing, they’re advancing the industry, and I think that’s great. As a gamer, I think that’s great. That said, if somebody goes out and makes a point that somehow reflects negatively on us, we’ll happily provide the facts about what is truthful in the matter, or what you get with the PlayStation 3 – take the 1080p, for example. We have true 1080p, and then a competitor would come out and say we’re up-resing our games to 1080p. Of course we went out and said ‘here’s what you get with the PlayStation 3 – you get true 1080p out of the box.’
GS: That point was a little confusing to me, because I feel like 1080p happened pretty recently. I know some of the launch titles still aren’t on it.
DK: That’s right.