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Gamescom 2011: Sony’s Yoshida on the PS3 cut and more

Wednesday, 17th August 2011 13:57 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida on dropping PS3 to £199, Media Molecule’s “totally new” project, The Last Guardian, Gran Turismo and the future of Move.

Shuhei Yoshida

President of SCE Worldwide Studios.

Took the role over on May 16, 2008, replacing Kaz Hirai, who was caretaking after Phil Harrison left the post in early 2008.

Responsible for PlayStation’s first-party development.

Shuhei Yoshida, the Sony executive in charge of creating of managing PlayStation’s first-party software portfolio, is, by default, one of the most powerful men in video games. It’s pleasant to find that he’s also one of the most pleasant, and always adds a splash of honesty sometimes lacking in the the global games interview merry go round.

Yoshida-san spoke to Johnny and I at gamescom today on the back of the global PS3 price cut announced in Cologne last night, giving us insight into the decision to move the console into the £199 sweet-spot, filling us in on PlayStation’s upcoming games, and much more.

VG247: The big story from the press conference yesterday was the PS3 price cut. As Sony’s games man you must be incredibly excited about that.

Shuhei Yoshida: Absolutely.

Why’s now the right time to being the price down to £199?

We had a great year last year. Last year was the biggest year for PS3, and we’re very happy with the momentum we continue to have. We have huge titles coming out this Christmas and we’re creating new experiences using PS Move, so in terms of both content and price-point, by making it slightly more accessible to people, we believe that this is the time we can reach and grow the audience with PS3. PS3′s going to be great value for people who have maybe waiting for the right time to jump on. We wanted to capture this moment.

As PS3 becomes more popular with you bringing the price down, how are you matching that with your software output?

This year we’re releasing Ratchet & Clank and Resistance, we just announced the new experience for infamous 2, and, of course, we have Uncharted 3. We’re also launching many casual, fun experiences for families using PS Move. I think we have a great line-up of games on PS3 this Christmas.

“Developers are still finding new ways to take advantage of the power of PS3. As long as developers are saying they can do more, I don’t see any need for us to move onto something different.”

Let’s talk about Vita. It’s an incredibly important launch for you. I found it interesting that the first thing you talked about in the conference yesterday were the social aspects of Vita, and not the games. Can you explain the reasoning behind that, and talk about how important social connectivity is to Vita as a handheld platform?

Connectivity has always been a core of Vita’s concept. For Vita, we really wanted to bring the best portable gaming experience you can get anywhere. It’s an always-on, connected device, and the integration of PSN functionality and social connectivity creates new types of experiences using touch, or gyroscopes or cameras.

We’re been able to demonstrate these new games and UI since the very beginning of PS Vita’s unveiling in January. But for the connectivity side, it’s really hard to demonstrate the network functionalities before the hardware is completed. We haven’t been able to show too much of that aspect until this time around, so we put a little bit more focus on it this time as people have a lot of questions and lots of interest in the feature-set with Vita and social connectivity.

How difficult a launch is Vita for you? When PSP and DS launched the idea of handheld gaming was clear; now it’s much more diffuse as we have mobile phones, iPad and all the rest of it. How difficult are you finding it to carve a niche with Vita?

The difficulty comes in terms of how we communicate the value and the unique proposition of Vita compared to other devices available in the market. The only way we can do it, really, is to show the games in action. Because it’s a portable device, people have to put their hands on it: the device is designed so it shines in your palm. That’s the challenge we have. A consumer event like gamescom is a perfect opportunity for us to get lots of people to try Vita for themselves and see how the game experience compares to other types of portable devices.

What are your opinions on 3DS? Nintendo’s been very quick to bring the price down and they’ve been under a lot of pressure on a corporate level. How do you feel about this, considering you’re about to enter the market with a next generation handheld?

I own a 3DS, and I’ve been using it. We didn’t price Vita relative to 3DS or anything; we always planned to price Vita as the price we have announced. I think Nintendo’s move was trying to match expectations. I don’t know. I think each device has to be priced to the value it creates. We are totally confident that the price we’ve put on PS Vita is the right one. We can wait for the launch to see how people react to the games we’re releasing.

Yesterday we were expecting maybe price points and release dates for Vita. Is this coming at Tokyo, maybe?

In terms of release date, we’ve been saying Japan this year and early next year for the rest of the world. Hopefully we’ll be able to be a bit more specific at TGS, at least for the Japanese launch because that comes first.

Going back to PS3. You appear to be moving into the back half of its life-cycle. Are you looking ahead, or beyond it? Are you still firmly entrenched in PlayStation 3 development?

When you look at the content that our teams and third-parties are releasing this Christmas on PS3, it’s amazing stuff. Developers are still finding new ways to take advantage of the power of PS3. As long as developers are saying they can do more, I don’t see any need for us to move onto something different.

How important is Move to you now? It played quite a large part of that presentation yesterday. Is Move and motion control in general something you’re still serious about building into your software portfolio going forwards?

Absolutely. PS Move has been a development of our R&D activities, even since the beginning of the PS2 days. We had EyeToy on PS2, the controller-less experience with augmented reality, and that was improved with the launch of PS3 and the PlayStation Eye. PS Move was a much bigger step for us in terms of creating the experience that puts you in the game.

“As far as the Gran Turismo team’s concerned, they are still working on updating the games, so they’re just shifting to the designing and concepting phase of the next project. It’s going to take a few years.”

We are totally excited that the experience you can create with PS Move can’t be replicated using traditional controllers. To answer your question, there’s a lot more we can do using the PS Move technology, its robustness, its preciseness and the fact it’s easy to get into. We’ll continue to create dedicated experiences using PS Move, as well as to adapt PS Move functionality into other types of games, as we’ve been doing with some FPS titles. With LittleBigPlanet we’re adding functionality so that you can create PS Move content and PS Move games. We continue to do both.

I ask because Microsoft is very keen on telling developers to incorporate Kinect functionality into their games. Is this something you push on developers, or do you say, “If you want to incorporate it, incorporate it”?

We ask teams to look at what they can do, to see if it makes sense. Some developers are skeptical even before trying Move, but many teams have found they can use PS Move because it’s designed as a game controller, with low latency and preciseness, and it doesn’t take up too much resource from the hardware. That’s what I ask. And if it makes sense and the team believes they can add value to the games then they do it, and if they don’t they don’t.

I just want to ask you a few questions about the studios. Media Molecule said recently that it’s starting to move away from LittleBigPlanet. Are they still continuing to make…

Yeah. They’re totally involved in evolving and advancing LittleBigPlanet. What they’re talking about is that they’re not actually developing new content for LittleBigPlanet. They have a group of developers working with them to create the new chapter of LittleBigPlanet, like LBP Vita or additional Move content. That means that the core team of Media Molecule – and it’s still a small team – is able to work on something totally new. They’re continuing to do both.

“The Last Guardian team has been making progress. It’s been very difficult in terms of seeing the progress: not as fast as we’d been hoping for, and the team has been under big pressure. But we’re still making progress, so I’d like to continue to support and keep waiting for great news sometime in the future.”

There are a couple of significant holes in the software line-up you’ve been talking about this year. There’s been no mention of any more Gran Turismo and we’re still waiting on a date for The Last Guardian. Is Tokyo going to shed more light on this, or are we going to wait a little bit longer?

I’d say it could be a little bit longer. As far as the Gran Turismo team’s concerned, they are still working on updating the games, so they’re just shifting to the designing and concepting phase of the next project. It’s going to take a few years.

The Last Guardian team has been making progress. It’s been very difficult in terms of seeing the progress: not as fast as we’d been hoping for, and the team has been under big pressure. But we’re still making progress, so I’d like to continue to support and keep waiting for great news sometime in the future.

Johnny: How does the inclusion of Sucker Punch fit into your future plans?

Thank you for asking. It’s incredibly exciting to shift into this new relationship, but when you look at you history of acquiring developers – Naughty Dog, Evolution, Media Molecule – we always worked together as a publisher and a developer for a few years and had the experience of creating great IPs together. We have a strong relationship and IPs that we want to continue to evolve. It’s only at that stage that we sit down, and because of these trusting relationships and IPs we’ve worked on together, it makes sense to make it a bit more official and remove ourselves from negotiating the contract and the deal every time a new product finishes.

In terms of Sucker Punch, they’ve been making games for us and with us for the past 10 years, and they’re continuing to make games with us in the future. From that standpoint there’ll be no change. But because they’re now part of our family, it’s very exciting to get them a little bit deeper into the SCE group, and not just making games: we can involve them in some of the R&D activities that we’ve been working on. That’s extremely exciting for us and, hopefully, for them as well.

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26 Comments

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  1. daytripper

    nice interview, i like this guy the best out of the sony crew, always comes across decent in the interviews i’ve seen.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Razor

    Polyphony’s next project to “take a few years”. Mind blown!

    #2 3 years ago
  3. StolenGlory

    @2

    Indeed.

    Being a big GT fan myself I have to that sadly, in the space that it takes to release the next GT, Forza will have enjoyed at least two more instalments boasting innovations that GT6 (or whatever it’s called) will likely struggle to match.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Erthazus

    “Developers are still finding new ways to take advantage of the power of PS3″

    Cool story bro. this statement is irrelevant after a lot of games that looks much better than on PS3.
    Any game that pushes PS3 hardware to it’s limits not that impressive anymore.
    Even Uncharted 3 is not That impressive like it was back in 2009. It’s now a time for creativity and designers to do something unique.

    Games like BF3, Witcher 2, Metro 2033: TLL, Far Cry 3, Bioshock 2 and many other PC multiplats or exlusives look almost like a next generation on the PC. PC is back and thats great.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Phoenixblight

    @4

    You have evidence of this because Publishers are still saying otherwise in their investor calls.

    Keep smoking that crack Erth.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Crab of Thunder

    I don’t really get the significance of this cut. £200 is still way overpriced in my opinion, it’s barely been cut at all. Considering it’s been out several years (5?) I think a better price would have been something like £150.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. kingofscotland

    I do agree with Erth on this occasion – its clear that neither xbox or ps3 can keep up with the top PC games like BF3, Witcher 2 & Metro.

    But is graphics the be all and end all?? It hasnt stopped Nintendo who act like their competition is the Sega Megadrive and the 3D0.

    But then if I could buy a PC for £199 that can compete with the PS3 then great – how many £199 PC’s would run BF3 better than the PS3???????

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight

    @7

    None the OS itself is worth more than that. You would be lucky to find a netbook at that price.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. kingofscotland

    @8 Exactly so whilst I agree with Erth its comparing apples and pears.

    But I do think that next gen Xbox and PS3 need at least 6GB of RAM to be competitive with PC’s over next few years

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Fin

    Erth forgot a key modifier.

    “Even Uncharted 3 is not That impressive to graphics whores like me like it was back in 2009.”

    The PS3/360 technology is now five years old. It was obvious from Crysis 1 that it wasn’t keeping up with the top level of PC games.
    But wait, nobody except fanboys actually care, because it still looks good and the games are still fun.

    @8

    Yeah you’d probably be talking £400-500 + OS as a bare minimum.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. TD_Monstrous69

    I can only wait to see what comes from future products of Sony’s ever expanding first party studios (specifically, with those studios getting involved with Sony’s R&D groups). I like on how genuine Yoshida seems in his interviews. Honesty like that is needed from all aspects of the gaming industry. Also @6, I agree with you somewhat. I don’t think the price cut’s that significant as well. But as far as affordability, I think this does nothing but stregthen it from that aspect. Because this means as the price for the newer models goes down, so will the price of used consoles, which is an entry way for a lot of people here in the US who owned an Xbox 360 that bricked on them (only say this for I assume you’re messaging in from across the pond, seeing as how you’re talking in euros).

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Kuwabara

    @3 Forza likes to rush they’re games out. Gran turismo was delayed because of the nuts wanting damage and the superbike game they made after gt4. Gt5 offers better physics, tuning and graphics than forza 3. Also forza 4 doesnt match gt5 in graphics. Ive seen some tracks, and the detail isnt as impressive. Also the cars in forza 4 all have the same shine/gloss to them, it looks as though they had just been spray painted and the paints going to rip off any second. Id rather wait 3 years for the next gt6 than have a game made in 2 years.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Panipal2005

    Does Sony even have any exclusives for 2012 that aren’t Twisted Metal and The Last Guardian (or is that one 2013)? It’s looking very, very threadbare.

    Also you should have asked him where the hell DONTNOD’s game was, not to mention Quantic Dream’s game(s).

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Kuwabara

    @ 13, ofcourse there will be more exclusives. Twisted metal, last guardian, yakuza 5, sly 4, star hawk, dust 514. expect another game from santa monica, as they said they’re working on 4 games. Ff vs 13. Im pretty sure agent will come out next year, leaving gta5 for 2013.

    xbox 360 has fable 4, witcher 2, halo 4. kingdoms. They always lack exclusives dont they.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. Phoenixblight

    @14

    Its pretty obvious that you don’t know what the hell you are talking about Last Guardian has no confirmed date not even a mention of a release date. FFXIII Versus is not even in production as said by Tetsuya they are in preproduction which was mentioned a few months ago so even if they started the day after they still have a couple years of production to push it out. Agent is not even mentioned anymore by Sony and Rockstar, most likely the project flopped and both companies have moved on.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. ManuOtaku

    Is funny that people criticize erthazus for saying the ps3/360 doesnt hold a candle against a top tier PC, but that doenst matter, is good because the games still looks good and the games are fun.

    And the funny thing is that the same thing applys to wii, but many people do not see it that way, the only thing i see for having the best graphics equipment is that they became very elitist, therefore all the other things to them are “trash” theres not discussion about that, because they own the end all machine with “superior graphics”, and the people that trully likes games always come with the “if the game is fun and looks good is all that matter”, which in the end is the case and very true IMHO, but is funny how this resembles the food chain, theres always a bigger fish.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Kuwabara

    The game agent hasnt flopped, an image was released today showing the game bback from 2009. And ffvs 13 will definitely be released by next year! And the last guardian, has aleady been anounced 2012 release, if not by early, then late!

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Phoenixblight

    “And ffvs 13 will definitely be released by next year!”

    SPeculation as I said Tetsuya has already came out and said they are just in the preproduction phase which is all the concept work and figuring how the programming will work all the videos you have seen are DIgital Prototypes which is just the first playable nothing is actually working except the movement.

    SO unless they can pull a game out of their ass you will not see it in 2012. ANd no The Agent footage has been shown it would be a megaton across the internet if that was the case. SOny has avoided the question about the game every time.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Kuwabara

    Go and search agent and see what shows up!! The game is not dead!

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Kaufer

    @8
    The Agent and The Agency are two different games.
    Oops you already edited it. NVM.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Phoenixblight

    ALready did and all I got was a concept art that was leaked from a guy that quit Rockstar in 2009. Take Two still says that its in development to the investors but no mention of when it will be release or expected released just said that its being developed on.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. KAP

    @4

    If they were to release 720 or PS4 tomorrow, evedently, there tech would be behind PC within months so bringing out a new console for the sake of visuals is a completely idiotic idea right now.

    Its all about install base. The bigger the install base the more money you make. The more money you make the happier the share holders are. Everybody eats steak that night. Skyrim on PS3 (now) will push more units (£) then Skyrim if on PS4, an obvious fact right? so in effect it’ll take another 4/5 years to get to where they are today right. Its silly to release a new console for the reasons most gamers what one for…

    Theres gamers that say “yea but we need the next gen console so we can play next gen games” what the fuck does that mean exactly? VR or some shit?

    They should go watch Lawnmower Man or some shit.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. Dannybuoy

    Good words Shuhei

    #23 3 years ago
  24. dunuck

    @4
    I think he meant most 3rd party devs are still discovering the cell and optimizing their engines to properly take advantage of the PS3 hardware

    #24 3 years ago
  25. JackTheLittle

    @18
    i think you’re wrong about FFversus, it’ll surely release sometimes 2012!even if Nomura deny it,it’ll happen!
    they already said because of FFXIII-2′s release,they wont show the game for now!Nomura even said lately that the next time of showing the game,has been decided.
    +the amount of work they’ve shown about the game make it unbelievable being in preproduction.even game’s music and voices have shown!
    its surely in production by now,but we don’t know when it’ll release!

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Phoenixblight

    @25

    SO Tetsuya is lying and that the game is in preproduction? That makes a lot of sense. Let me go tell my boss that I am still in preproduction for my work that he told me to do and then right when he is about to fire my ass I pull the work right out of my ass. Keep believing your theories.

    #26 3 years ago