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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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    The suspend/resume feature in PlayStation 4′s 2.50 firmware update is causing some issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Killzone: Shadow Fall developer Guerrilla has said that the game is experiencing some issues in some instance where the suspend/resume feature is used. The timing of when players put the game in suspend mode does have an effect, […]

  • Bungie on Destiny matchmaking: “We believe there’s no substitute for a pre-made team”

    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]