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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

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    We have 400 Lann Revamp codes worth €25 to giveaway for free to VG247 readers. All you need to do is enter your details in the box below and you’ll be given a code to redeem in game. The codes are for warrior character Lann and offer a 7 day unlimited Inner Armour pass, battle […]

  • US eShop update: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, OlliOlli, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, OlliOlli and a demo version of Azure Striker GUNVOL. Your full update is below. eShop Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars – Wii U, 3DS – Cross Buy OlliOlli – Wii U, 3DS – Cross-Buy Proun+ – Proun+ […]

  • Rock Band 4 confirmed for Xbox One and PS4: supports old instruments and 2,168 songs

    Harmonix has lifted the lid on the long-rumoured Rock Band 4, stating it will support 2,168 previously released tracks and last-gen instruments on PS4 and Xbox One. The game will be out this year. Harmonix has yet to reveal specific features for the game, but it has been built with a completely new engine. As […]

  • First run of Rodea the Sky Soldier copies on Wii U come with Wii version

    The first print run of Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii U will come with the Wii version packed in, NIS America has confirmed. The publisher confirmed today in a press release that anyone who buys the first run of the retail version of Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii U will find the Wii […]

  • Unreal Tournament 4 lets modders sell cosmetic items to players

    Unreal Tournament 4 is a game built with the help of the modding community. So it’s only natural that it will feature a marketplace where all cosmetic items can be sold. Epic Games has confirmed that it will allow modders from the community to sell the cosmetics items they’ve created on the game’s marketplace. The […]

  • D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is coming to PC – rumour

    SWERY 65 has shown off D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die running on PC at GDC this week, teasing that a possible port may be on the way. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is SWERY 65′s latest project. An episodic detective affair, D4 came out on Xbox One last September and utilised Kinect as its main […]

  • Valve’s Lighthouse, VR controllers and more explained

    Valve’s less-talked about prototype VR controllers and its Lighthouse technology have been shown in more detail. When HTC announced Vive, the VR headset it’s working on with Valve, it mentioned “base stations” and ergonomic controllers. Now we know what they meant by that. The controllers are still in prototype phase, and will look better when […]

  • Listen to two professional Counter-Strike players explain why Dust2 is so popular

    Hear what makes iconic Counter-Strike map Dust2 one of the most popular maps in shooter history from two former eSports players. Sal “Volcano” Garozzo and Shawn “FMPONE” Snelling are both retired professional Counter-Strike players who are currently working as designers. At GDC this year, the pair hosted a panel titled “Community Level Design for Competitive […]

  • Core Morpheus hardware locked in, no plans for wireless version

    Sony has finalised the core hardware for its VR headset Project Morpheus, and does not currently plan on releasing a wireless version. SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida spoke to Gamespot at GDC and confirmed that the core hardware of Morpheus is “pretty much done” but that “lots of tweaks and improvements” are still being […]

  • Watch the full Phil Spencer keynote from GDC 2015

    The full GDC 2015 keynote of Xbox boss Phil Spencer is now available to watch. In case you missed last nights’s Phil Spencer keynote at GDC 2015, the whole thing has been made available to watch on YouTube. The address is titled “The Future of Gaming Across the Microsoft Ecosytem,” and it’s where Spencer announced […]

  • Elite: Dangerous won’t be “dumbed down” for Xbox One

    The Xbox One version of Elite: Dangerous will in fact be the same as the PC one. Elite: Dangerous developer Frontier came out on stage last night at GDC to announce the game making its console debut on Xbox One. Some have feared that the port would not provide the same experience as the PC […]

  • Virtual reality: by gum, it’s really happening

    Virtual reality has exited the realm of peripheral gimmick and turned into something that just might go mainstream. VR has an uphill battle ahead of it. The tech is going to be expensive, and there are a number of problems that need to be solved before it could be considered an inclusive technology (motion sickness, […]

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes Game of the Year at GDC Awards 2015

    And the winner is: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor beat out Alien: Isolation, Bayonetta 2, Destiny, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft to win Game of the Year at the Game Developer’s Choice Awards 2015. Elsewhere in the awards, Ustwo’s mobile hit Monument Valley was a stand-out favourite, with wins in the Innovation, […]

  • Alien: Isolation was prototyped in third-person – video

    Alien: Isolation is one of the most effectively scary triple-A games in years, but it didn’t start off a perfect creation of pure terror. Creative Assembly prototyped Alien: Isolation in third-person perspective before they nailed down the final approach. The developer revealed this during a GDC 2015 presentation, and it’s a good reminder that games […]

  • Madden 15 added to EA Vault

    Madden 15 is now included in EA’s all-you-can-eat subscriber service. Madden 15 is the ninth game to be added to the EA Vault, a stash of games available on demand for EA Access subscribers. It's still Madden Season for EA Access members – Madden NFL 15 is now in The Vault for all members. Go […]

  • Source Engine 2 doesn’t have hidden costs or royalties – but is Steam exclusive

    Three major engines went free at GDC 2015, and each of them is monetising in a different way. There’s been a heck of a lot of discussion about development tools and the costs associated with them during GDC 2015. First Epic announced that Unreal Engine 4 would be free, bar royalities on successful releases. Then […]

  • Final Fantasy creator hates sequels

    Final Fantasy, a byword in prolific franchises, was created by a man who hates sequel. Final Fantasy games are famous for being reinvented with each core release, and it was not until series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi began to withdraw from the franchise after Final Fantasy 9 that we started seeing regular sequels and spin-offs. Speaking […]

  • Guardian complaints led to the closure of Destiny’s Loot Cave

    Destiny players are to blame for the shuttering of the much loved Loot Cave. Early in Destiny‘s history, many players got hugely excited about the “Loot Cave”. Accessible shortly after starting the game for the first time, this high-volume spawn point allowed players to stand in one place, taking out waves and waves of low-level […]

  • Xbox and PC games boss Phil Harrison to leave Microsoft – rumour

    Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business VP and EMEA head of games Phil Harrison is rumoured to have thrown in the towel. Microsoft has not issued a statement on Harrison’s alleged departure, despite repeated questioning by press at GDC 2015. Instead, word comes via multiple sources speaking to GamesIndustry at the show. According to the rumours, Harrison […]

  • Metal Gear Online commentated trailer explains stuffed dog – but not invisibility

    Metal Gear Online developer Kojima Productions has provided significantly more insight into how the multiplayer side of The Phantom Pain works. Metal Gear Online is the online multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Konami hasn’t shared a great deal about it yet, but we did see a very cool Metal Gear […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Xbox One trailer shows off space MMO

    If Elite: Dangerous looks this good on Xbox One we have nothing to complain about. Microsoft revealed Elite: Dangerous is coming to Xbox One this year during its GDC presentations today. We don’t know very much about the port, but I suppose we ought to have expected it; Frontier Developments has a very close relationship […]

  • Battletoads to appear in Shovel Knight Xbox One

    A Battletoads remake must be on the horizon. Right? Right?? The Battletoads will appear in the upcoming Xbox One version of Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games revealed today. The Battletoads drop in for a fight! Shovel Knight is headed to Xbox One and meets up with @RareLtd brawling trio! pic.twitter.com/OCQIuWbH3W — Yacht Club Games (@YachtClubGames) […]

  • The Division pre-alpha footage leaks, Ubisoft says it’s well out of date

    The Division fans finally got a look at Ubisoft’s MMO this week, but the publisher has said the footage is not in any way representative. Pre-alpha footage of the The Division was leaked this week, but has since been thoroughly smacked down by takedown notices. All that remains are a few screenshots and a GIF: […]

  • Microsoft HoloLens designer killed in hit and run accident

    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]