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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 2 of 5 Next

Exclusive titles are kind of out of the window also because of the market share of the 360 and also because of development costs. Do you think things like the exclusive Batman content are the wave of the future?

RD: Totally. Since I got here two years ago, April 1st of '08, having sat on that side of the table and understood what the costs were, and having worked with an exclusive with Tomb Raider when I was at my Eidos days, and knowing what those costs were, exclusives are few and far between.

And God bless things like [Rockstar's] Agent. God bless things like Final Fantasy XIV. I think Microsoft is looking at Gears and stuff that happens with Valve and all the really cool things that they used to get from Bungie, and going, "Well, you know, what are we going to be able to do?"

The other side of it is we've had this amazing first-party line-up that is exclusive. You know, we're the biggest when it comes to being able to do that.

That being said, yes, it is all about exclusive features, exclusive content that is meaningful that I like to say makes a publisher not just be Switzerland. It makes them make a commitment to the gamer, the player, to say, "Here's why we want do to this," and "Let's take advantage of that hardware consoles that they have to offer."

Microsoft has been really aggressive with getting DLC exclusives. Is that a place that you're looking to compete?

RD: I think it's hysterical that they're aggressive about that because if you're a publisher and a developer, you have to make a decision as to how you're going to have that delivered as a DLC exclusive. They've got two different machines. Are you going to give it for the arcade user or the guy that actually has a hard drive. We don't have to worry about that.

So, from my perspective, we offer a few things that give a publisher an ease of development. They can be certain a 100 percent of the user population in our world can do their DLC.

If you want to go and have a conversation with Rockstar -- and talk about how many people were actually able to download their exclusive content they did for Microsoft -- it would be a very different story. That's a part of it. But we also have the ability to put a lot more than 9 gigs on a Blu-ray disc, and in fact, I want to do more than that because it really shows off the difference between our machine and their machine.

You mean you want to put more content on the disc, rather than encourage DLC?

RD: Yeah, because that way, 100 percent of the users are going to get it. 100 percent. What are we, north of 70 percent on the network now? 73, I think. Microsoft probably the same... [That's] still a significant number of people that aren't able to get, whether they don't have broadband, whether they just flat out can't get on the network. Whether or not you do it, they're not using it. I want it on the disc, that way when they buy it, they get it. So, if I can do that, that's great.

Now, you can talk about why DLC is important to help limit the used game business and to keep people holding onto [the game]. I'm all about that, too. I love that. But I want it on the disc so that 100 percent out there that can play this thing.

It also has to do with the way that developers structure their production cycle, too.

RD: Correct. Great point. Great point. What has now happened is that you go to a publisher or developer and say, "Look, guys. You got to start planning things in like pre-sale. What's your pre-sale DLC? What are you going to do for the Amazons, the GameStops, or whoever has that presale?" That's one.

Two, "Are you going to have something that has a day one release special code or something?" Then you have, "Okay, are we going to do something for a first-party with regards to DLC or on-disc?"

So, you have to literally plan this in your pre-pro in order to make sure you have the time, the assets, the resources because it's not just about used games; it's about, "How do I get more pre-sale business, which absolutely determines my day one initial orders. Am I going to get support from a first-party? How am I going to do that?"

You can't come in there with six months... I can guarantee you I've had multiple conversations, more than you would even believe, from people that you would not expect it from, coming in six months before street date going, "Well, what can we do?" And I'm looking... Ship's sailed, babe. Dead and gone. We did the Batman deal 15 months before street date.

It actually turned into 17 because they slipped it two months, which turned out to be two really good months they moved it. Happenstance was the game was going to ship in June. If you go back, all the street dates were June, June, and June. "Can't make it." Alright, we didn't tell them when the price cut was coming, but I said, "If you don't make it, you have to be out before September 1st, at the end of August. Deal's off."

So, we made it happen. And sure enough, we came out close enough to day and date for us when we announced our price cut. Obviously, that had a huge impact. But we started that deal 15 months before that June date in order to obviously get everything lined up.

How does that relate to the requirements of how much time development takes? Could you move faster if you had to?

RD: Well, it depends on the size of the team, how involved they want to be... Look, hold that thought. Come find me after our press event at E3. There's going to be some announcements. You're going to look at me and go, "Okay. When did you start these? How far..." and we'll talk about when these things started and how far out we started this stuff because we've gotten into the next level. Batman was the first step. We're just going onto the next level.

What do you do with online play? What do you do with some of this other stuff? How do you sort out rights? It takes times, legally, deal-wise... And then, just getting the damn thing into the game. It takes a lot of time. So, can you do them shorter?

Well, I'll give you a good example. You can do stuff with the Move in a very, very short period of time because the Move is pretty easy. It's not a hard thing to grok. It's fairly simple. If you've done anything with the EyeToy, it's pretty straightforward stuff. It's an easy codebase. We've got great dev support. We can get stuff done in Move in six months. Okay.

But if you're going to put stuff on disc, and a good example of the Move being able to do that, and I would encourage you to talk to the guys at Warner Bros. that are doing Aragorn's Quest for the Move, literally six to eight month window they'd be able to do this thing and make it happen. Disney with the Toy Story announcement, very short window with what they're able to do on that.

If you want to get stuff on disc or have some really involved DLC that will be day and date with the release, you really then need to have more than a year. Because it's going to be three hours of gameplay, right? And you know the math.

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