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E3: Sony's Steinberg On Move, 3D, And What PlayStation Means

E3: Sony's Steinberg On Move, 3D, And What PlayStation Means

June 16, 2010 | By Christian Nutt

June 16, 2010 | By Christian Nutt
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"'It Only Does Everything' is tattooed on our arms these days," Sony Computer Entertainment America marketing VP Scott Steinberg told Gamasutra at E3 today, in reference to the PlayStation 3's current marketing slogan and the expansion of the system to a broader and broader entertainment device.

Sony's Direction

Steinberg demurred when asked about the other two major platform press conferences, but he said "what I liked about ours is the breadth of news that we had. It just showcases how exciting it is to be at PlayStation right now." To Steinberg, breadth means "platforms, software, tech, and network."

"It speaks to our broader entertainment positioning as a company. We're not just a gaming company," he said. "When Kaz Hirai is on the floor, he represents a broader position than gaming. There's never been a more strategic time for the PlayStation."

Hirai, of course, is not just the president of SCE, but is also the strategic officer in charge of Sony's network strategy.

In fact, says Steinberg, with its movie and content downloads, "PlayStation is evolving from just a gaming company to an entertainment brand. With the network providing so much value to consumers... That expression is coming out loud and clear now."

"Of course gaming is our core and the kernel, and PlayStation Move is a great example of that," he said. "But if people see PlayStation as just a gaming company, they're not seeing the full view of where we're taking the company and the strategic view is around entertainment and a broader value proposition."

Microsoft made many statements in its press conference about vying for the living room, and Steinberg seems confident Sony is in the lead there. "That [focus] is probably is not new news in terms of internal conversations," he said. "There's always been the battle for the living room that's been ongoing across multiple different companies. We carry that with a lot more authority because of the PlayStation heritage and the install base we've had."

The Move Story

"The momentum around PlayStation Move is what we've been concentrating on for this show," says Steinberg. When it comes to the company's strategy for the device, he says, it's not about just the casual or hardcore consumer. "We've not tried to exclude anyone. I think it's a strategy of inclusion. We've announced Killzone 3 will be Move-capable."

Steinberg also sees the company's interest in supporting Move in its core games as a symbol of our commitment. "We're going to be putting our best IP against PlayStation Move, which is different from our competition," he pointed out. "It proves to retail and to our consumers how committed we are."

"We want technology, yes," he added, "but it's productizing that technology that we've done so well as a company. PlayStation Move is about precision but I think how you apply that precision that's important...It's not just wrist flicks or mime-like movements. We're dealing with products [games] that people are used to getting better at and mastering."

Pushing 3D Gaming

Sony called particular attention to Killzone 3's 3D mode and the broader company has made 3D a top priority: The new Bravia televisions shipped by the electronics division are 3D capable.

Says Steinberg, SCE is "making [3D] important. As a company, 3D is a huge initiative, and the PlayStation brand and products are integral to that. We're building the first round of content... As movies start to come online a little bit later, it'll be games that showcase the strength of 3D out of the gate this year and this holiday."

But aren't 3D TVs a massive investment for consumers?

"I think we do have that early adopter who is looking if they've just made that investment into an HD set that's ready for 3D," he responded. "They'll be the guys who want to see that Killzone experience, and I do think the gaming is at the center of that... But there will be movie fans, who are Avatar fans, who aren't gamers. I've got to be convinced that the way our games look, how brilliant and immersive a shooter or racing game will be in 3D, that gamers are going to come to the technology."

What of the PSP?

When it comes to the company's handheld, which is flagging at least in the U.S., Steinberg pointed out the recent promotions for the Go, such as a free downloadable games with purchase and the new $9.99 "Favorites" initiative.

Says Steinberg, "We're excited about the PSP, we're absolutely committed to the handheld business, so we're expending a lot of resources to build out our PSP market this year. The priority -- and maybe this didn't come out as clearly in the press conference -- is that we're going younger for the platform, as it gets into the latter part of its decade life span. We're absolutely committed to the platform."

Does Sony feel pressure on the PSP from Nintendo's 3DS? Steinberg isn't ready to answer that question.

"I'll be interested to see how their full story actually gets told," he said. "I think there were some missing pieces in terms of price and availability, I'd like to see how that goes before we begin speculating on how the two platforms compete."

He also isn't sure his competitor is taking the right tactic, not surprisingly preferring his own company's 3D approach of large televisions and big games.

"3D is a glorious immersive experience that allows you to disbelieve what's going around you," he said.

With the Wii, however, Nintendo surprised people, and redefined gaming in many ways. Isn't it true they could change people's attitudes toward 3D?

"Let's see how they come to the table," he responded. "The key thing for me is the PSP, and 3D is right there for the PlayStation nation to enjoy."


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