Given what we saw at E3, is third–party support becoming the key battleground for next-gen formats?
Development and support for a format is very important yes, and the story is very different these days to how it was with older formats. In the past you could pay a million dollars for a PS2 game and get a $50,000 Xbox port thrown in. Those days are gone. Developers have to pick their formats much more carefully.
This is partly because of the huge cost of development. But it’s not just a financial consideration. It’s about strategic marketing and the online consumer. It’s about how a game fits its format.
Would you agree that the PS3 has gone a bit quiet since launch?
Certainly the delay to a March roll-out in Europe hasn’t helped. We had lots of titles at launch then the summer doldrums arrive and publishers are naturally saving their big guns for when it is darker and wetter.
As David Reeves put across very well in MCV recently, we’re more than happy with where we are right now. And we’re very confident about where we are heading.
In terms of first party software, we have the best line-up ever going forward. LittleBigPlanet is clearly grabbing headlines and turning heads, Heavenly Sword is just fantastic, Singstar is tremendous, Ratchet & Clank will be big and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune has had a great reaction. Plus there is a little thing called Gran Turismo on the way.
How do you see the current position on hardware pricing?
Well, Europe has only ever had the 60GB machine, whilst Americans only ever bought the 60GB machine – which is why the 20GB was dropped there. There has been a recognition of the value of higher spec machines, so the US having an 80GB machine makes sense.
$100 reduction on the 60GB is meaningful, particularly given the software line-up that we have coming and the importance of downloadable content.
You don’t see us panicking or zig-zagging with our strategy. We’re aware of what we have to do and understand that there might be some concerns out there; that’s natural. But I would only be worried if I thought we weren’t able to respond.
How important is the NCsoft deal?
It’s very important for a number of reasons, such as the kind of games they make. There is a very open nature to their games, which is good for our platform. They also generate huge eyeballs.
NCsoft is a huge player not really recognised for the size of its audience. Commercially, this deal is very significant and is obviously important for the Asian market. And it’s not just about porting IP. This is about new IP too.
When will Home be fully launched and how will it be marketed?
We will be in the final beta stage by September, with total roll-out after that. This is the first truly global beta we’ve ever had and everything is on track for this autumn. Will Home feature in above-the-line marketing? That’s not for me to decide, but I don’t see why not.