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Exclusive: Andrew House talks to VG247 about price cuts and going digital in a retail market

Wednesday, 19 August 2009 18:12 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

andrewhouse

Interview by Patrick Garratt.

SCEE president Andrew House took time out of his busy schedule at GamesCom to have a chat with VG247 regarding all things PS3 price-cut, PSPgo, how important it is for developers to comprehend the PS3 hardware, and the future of digital downloads.

Not only did House mention that Sony would  love to drop the price of PS3 to the $199 price point of the PS2 peak should it be fiscally possible, he also touched a bit on yesterday’s strange omission of a date for Gran Truismo 5, and how those who preorder the initial offering of PSPgo will get GT PSP for free.

There are loads of goodies in the interview, you should read on past the break.

VG247: How was your first time on the German stage?

Andrew House: It was exciting and we had a lot to talk about in a fairly brief space of time but hopefully we packed a lot of information in there. It is an exciting time to be back in the business, maybe even more so now, obviously.

VG247: I just want to clarify one point, you announced a price cut – talking in pounds – down to around £250 in the UK along with the slim at around £250 – can you explain what people’s motivation will be to buy the old SKU especially now that they are the same price. Why would anybody be looking to buy the current SKU?

House: I think that by saying that someone won’t buy it presupposes it that somehow that the new SKU is somehow tremendously superior, yes it’s great, but from a capability standpoint it’s roughly the same device so you are not getting any less of an experience from the original SKU, which is my first point.

The second point is, we have done what we hope is a pretty good job this time around in planning for the transposition to the degree that we’ve got a very, very well manged inventory channel out there and over and above that, even at the higher price point, when I look at our numbers across the amalgam of different European countries, and markets we’re back on track this year. Sales have been, at least speaking for Europe and the other PAL territories, they’ve been pretty robust. So I think this allows us to create new excitement in the market, I don’t think we’re looking at a huge amount of inventory that’s even existing of the current SKU that’s out there.

Previous transitions when we’ve done this, there’s a lot of consumers, for that whatever reasons, are perfectly happy to buy the older SKU and there is always the opportunity to address that promotionally as well if that should become an issue, but at this point I don’t envision it being one.

There was a lot of talk before the conference of the slim being a sort of split hard drive SKU – what with a smaller hard drive being below £200 and a larger hard drive being above £200. Was that ever a consideration?

Not that I have been aware of. I think we’ve learned over time that if you can have sort of a single-based SKU – I mean there are opportunities to create bundled offerings and do other things promotionally – but if you can create a single-based SKU that is the sort of de facto PS3 offering, then that is a very simple proposition for us to communicate that the people will understand and gravitate to.

The £199 price point during the last generation was when PS2 peaked in terms of sales, and many people were sort of hoping you would come down to that level – especially in the UK. To be blunt, do you think you have done enough to accelerate the sort of “PS3 message” as an entity this Christmas season by coming down to £250?

I will phrase my answer to the question slightly differently. If we could get to a more aggressive price point within the boundaries of sensible business, absolutely would we wish to do that? Yes, we would.

We have to deal with an exchange regiment that is-what-it-is right now, and not something that we are obviously in control of. I also think, as well, that that we have – let’s not forget – a great line-up of content coming for PS3 this year that I think will be very motivating and I think what we are also trying to do – we spent a lot of time yesterday very deliberately talking about the network – talking about what we are doing to improve, refresh, and add more capabilities to the network.

What I think we’re trying to do there, is build out the whole offering to say ‘yes we obviously have done as much as we can to reduce price and present a better value proposition to new consumers coming in at the same time’. What I hope is starting to become very apparent with PS3, is that the network has a larger community that you can engage with because there are more services, more things that you can do – access to movies now coming in November – and we are adding value to the existing PS3 owner as well.

Those two trends together, I think, will put us in reasonably good shape for this holiday.

Again, to be blunt, is this even a numbers game for Sony anymore? Are you concerned that you are being outsold by Xbox 360? There is always the to-ing-and-fro-ing about who is winning the numbers game. Do you even care bout what Microsoft is doing with 360 anymore or are you still just trying to dance to your own tune, so to speak?

I think it’s a combination of the two. We would be foolish if we weren’t mindful of being in a very competitive business. Having said that, I think we have been very clear about having a fairly long-term view of the business. Not just on PS3, but ever since Sony became involved in the console business, I think one of the things we have been able to do is move the conventional life cycle from what I would characterize as a shorter, more toy-like life cylce, towards a longer one that is more in tune with consumer electronics.

I think at the end of the day, consumers embrace that. We don’t expect to upgrade our televisions every five years, and we don’t expect to have to upgrade our video delivery devices every few years – most of us at least.

So, providing we are able to deliver a very, very solid content offering, and providing we are able to say ‘Now that this device is networked, there is so much more that you can do and so much more that you can engage with’ – we will do whatever we can to deliver the cost savings to you as soon as we’re able to do that. I think for us, that is our own strategy and that is a solid strategy for the longer term.

Talking about content, the next few quarters are probably the strongest for first party titles you’ve ever had since the machine launched. Yesterday, during the conference, there were a few omissions that a lot of people were expecting, GT5 is one of them. When are we going to see that? Are we going to see that at TGS?

I am not going to make a prediction on that but I think you will see something on GT5 very soon.

I just interviewed David Cage, as well, and he is phenomenally excited by the machine, and he is a huge advocate of the PS3. How important is it for you, as obviously, a man in charge to get developers that fully understand the actual hardware?

It is absolutely critical and that is why I was absolutely delighted that David joined me on stage yesterday and was part of the presentation.

We are in a creative business and I can talk for twenty minutes about network strategy and I can talk about the business rationale behind PS3. But I think it was phenomenal to have David there, talking very emotionally, in terms of telling a story and how he is translating that into a game. That’s tremendously powerful and that’s what our consumers want at the end of the day.

PSPgo was basically a huge announcement for you at E3, but the pricing has raised a lot of eyebrows as it seems to be quite expensive.

I think, clearly, there is a delta there between PSPgo and the existing PSP-3000. We’ve received, to date, some tremendous anecdotal feedback on the form factor and the sheer sexiness of the device which I think bodes well for its launch.

We, at least for Europe, were very keen to put an initial offer in place that would reward the consumer who jumps on board first. Therefore, I think the offer that we announced yesterday, that those initial purchasers will be able to get GT for PSP absolutely free. I think that goes a long way to addressing that.

We’re also looking at some other plans further down the line that will come together for launch around people who have existing UMD libraries and what we can do to incentivize those as well. So, I think that and a combination of what is a really very attractive portable device leaves us feeling fairly confident where we are right now.

Obviously, Go itself is a pretty significant step towards a digital world. You are really sort of sticking your leg in the sand there, so do you think it’s a move that everyone is going to follow? Do you expect people to move with you as you go digital?

I can’t really say what the competition and what other people are going to do, but I think that some of the larger and respected publishers are embracing digital in a big way and are looking towards a world that at the very least will include simultaneous delivery of packaged media. What we should all be thinking about is what the consumer wants, and ifthe consumer wants the option to have discs or wants to get digital content at the same time, then we need to deliver on that

I think we need to balance that though, with one other item we announced yesterday, one we were prompted to really jump in and deliver. This solution, because of the the PSPgo, was the PSN voucher cards. Because as PSPgo, as portable device, potentially brings in a younger audience than there has been on the PSN to date. Clearly, we need to have a solution to those two things that will still ensure that at retail stores there is product that people can see, and know what’s hot and know what they want to buy.

This way, both can also be part of that mix and at the same time I can turn to my 14 year-old and say ‘You’ve got your own money, you choose what you want to buy on the network so go buy a voucher.’ So, Ii think that was another important message yesterday.

Yes digital and digital delivery is incredibly important to our future, but make no mistake, partnering with retail stores and giving everybody a solution that gives access to it are as equally important.

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5 Comments

  1. Razor

    Seems like a likeable guy.

    #1 6 years ago
  2. Tonka

    wall of text
    tldr

    #2 6 years ago
  3. James91

    @Tonka

    How else do you expect an interview to look? :\

    #3 6 years ago
  4. Hunam

    Lol, Tonkafail. It does worry me the state of humanity when tldr has become a stable of the internet, lest we know who the morons are though on sight now.

    #4 6 years ago
  5. Withnail

    Good interview. Few nice details there: GT5 news very soon, UMD programme confirmed for European Go buyers. House sounds decent enough. Tretton, Yoshida, and House seem to be refreshingly straightforward Sony execs after Big Phil and Krazy Ken.

    Though I must say that “You are really sort of sticking your leg in the sand there,” is a combination of metaphors I haven’t encountered before :)

    #5 6 years ago

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    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition has been released in North America. It will be made available in the Europe on May 7 and in the UK May 8 for £49.99 on consoles and £34.99 on PC. As previously announced, this edition contains all previously released DLC content as well as […]

  • Two GAME exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians now available for pre-order

    GAME has announced two exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians, and both are now available for pre-order exclusively through one of the retail chain’s 318 stores or online. The £79.99 Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians, which delivers new digital content wrapped in a steel book. There’s also the £199.99 Halo 5: Guardians Limited Collector’s Edition […]

  • Deals with Gold: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Bioshock Infinite, more

    Microsoft has announced its latest Deals with Gold discounts for Xbox Live Gold members. Franchises on sale include Far Cry, Call of Duty, along with individual titles Assassin’s Creed Unity and Bioshock Infinite. The full list is below. Bioshock Infinite discounts are available for both Xbox Live Gold and Silver members. Xbox One Far Cry […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has released, watch the launch trailer here

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has launched on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can watch the launch trailer for it below. Boxed copies in Europe arrive from May 15, and in Australia/New Zealand on May 14. You can grab digital copies from the following online services: Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Store.

  • GOG’s online service GOG Galaxy is now in open beta

    GOG Galaxy, the DRM-free online gaming platform from the folks at GOG, has left Alpha and is now in open beta for all to try. As previously announced, the online service, similar to Steam, is option. Players do not need to play online as all games are stored by the service and can be played […]

  • DayZ-inspired Goat Simulator DLC GoatZ is out this week on Steam

    Goat Simulator players can download DayZ-inspired DLC this week called GoatZ. According to Coffee Stain Studios, GoatZ is “the only survival game on Steam that isn’t in Early Access.” Jokingly of course. The DLC features: Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it. Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living […]

  • No, Far Cry 4 is not currently free on PSN

    You may have seen a few Tweets from people saying that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 is available to download from PSN for free. This is not true. A few readers have tipped us off to what looked like a glitch on PSN that allowed players to download the full version of Far […]

  • Metal Gear Solid: The 1984 Collection confirmed to be a clothing line

    Konami is teasing a Metal Gear Solid thing called “The 1984 Collection.” The Metal Gear Solid Facebook page posted this image about an hour ago: The caption reads, “Step back into the 80′s with our new MGS collection coming very soon! Stay tuned!” This is supposedly in reference to the clothing line that was announced […]

  • Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World & Scooby Doo packs listed for Lego Dimensions

    Lego Dimensions is likely getting a few unannounced content packs. One of which is themed around Valve’s Portal. A set of unannounced content packs for the upcoming Lego Dimensions have been revealed by US retailer Walmart. The listings include packs for The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Jurassic World, and most interestingly, Portal. The listings have […]

  • This is the most authentic recreation of GTA 2 in real life ever

    Affordable drones have many uses. Most of them are not nearly as exciting as recreating GTA 2 in real life. I am surprised it took us this long, but someone has finally captured footage using a drone that resembles the protagonist’s experience in the classic GTA 2. These aren’t just shots of cars from a […]

  • PlayStation 4 sales reach 2m in the UK

    Sony has sold 2 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the UK, faster than it did with the PlayStation 2 – the company’s best-selling machine in the country. MCVUK is reporting that as of last weekend, 2 million PlayStation 4s have been sold in the UK. The data is based on GfK Chart-Track estimates. This makes […]

  • H1Z1 gets female characters, skin colour options planned

    In an effort to improve diversity in the game, H1Z1 developer has added female characters. Female survivors can now be found throughout the world of H1Z1. Developer Daybreak added the new feature in a patch released last Friday. You will be able to choose a female avatar in the main game and in Battle Royale. […]

  • Possible teaser site for Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi’s new game opens

    Either Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi is working on a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter for his new game, or someone is pulling an elaborate prank. At PAX Prime last year, during Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 panel, a flyer was handed out to attendees that showed what appeared to be a 2D game of some sort with […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for May 5: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    Tuesday is here and Destiny’s weekly reset is also here. Bungie announced that your weekly Destiny grind has now begun. The Nightfall and Heroic strikes are now live too. This week’s strike is Winter’s Run. Rainbow burn is back for the Nightfall, which means you do more damage with all elemental weapons, but also receive […]

  • PC version of Project Cars delayed in Australia due to severe weather

    Recent weather conditions in Sydney, Australia are responsible for a slight delay of the PC version of Project Cars in the country. Sydney recently suffered from storms that caused flooding in some areas. One of those is the place where publisher Namco Bandai was storing PC copies of Project Cars. The stock was “severely damaged,” […]

  • Twitch’s new process makes it easier for streamers to appeal flagged content

    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]