March 8th, 2007, 19:53 Posted By: wraggster
Shortly after delivering his Game 3.0 speech at the Game Developers Conference, Phil Harrison sat down with me for a ten-minute, one-on-one interview about the reaction to Home, developer reticence, why there is a backlash against Sony and other things.
Crecente: OK, I guess the first question is judging on the...
Harrison: Congratulations on your New York Times performance by the way.
Crecente: I was shocked at that.
Harrison: I'm very proud of you.
Crecente: Someone IMed me last night and I was like what? I went in there and looked. They cited a highly placed.. a Sony exec right?
PR person: A highly placed industry veteran.
Harrison: And that would be you.
Crecente: It's amazing, both understanding what happened during your presentation today but also we posted it and looking at the comments. People are like "Sony's back" Did you you see this as a defining moment, did you think this was going to be a huge moment for the Playstation 3?
Harrison: I think that the.. where to begin. I know that Home is really special and I know that it has the potential to be incredibly powerful not just as a brand, but for the consumers and the industry, so it's not a complete surprise. But you never know until you stand up in front of an audience of experts, yourselves, the media last night or the development community today. So clearly we have been doing a lot of internal show and tell on Home for a long time. Only just recently did we start to share with our third parties which is I think where you probably got your uh..
Crecente: No comment.
Harrison: You're the one saying no comment now.
Harrison: And that's fine, we obviously have to include our close partners in our plans early so we can consult with them and get their feedback. Every single meeting we've done with them, every single presentation we've had universally positive, incredible feedback, so that gave us a lot of confidence, but like I said you never know. The reaction has been tremendous and I'm very much looking forward to getting online and reading the forums and seeing what people are saying. Sadly since I've come off stage I've sat doing broadcast interviews.
Crecente: Speaking of third parties... in that tip we received the person who tipped us said they felt that developer were now being told they had to do this extra work.
Harrison: I don't know who told you that, but they have told you wrong information.
Crecente: How does it work? Is it a requirement, like say awards, the trophies. Does that have to be in all games now?
Harrison: We've made no statements about that, so I don't know how anybody would have told you that because we haven't told that to any third parties, categorically.
Crecente: OK, have you decided on that?
Harrison: We are consulting with our third parties. I don't think every game needs to have trophies, my personal opinion. I don't think we need to have it. But if it's meaningful to the community, then just the simple fact of buying the game, owning the game could trigger a trophy. Now a developer has to create a bitmap to show their game saves or their icon on the cross media bar anyway. So for them to take a small bit of 3D geometry, maybe a character, an object, or a weapon, what ever, and put it through RSDK and create an icon, it's like ten minutes work. So this is very low impact. Very low intensity work that would be required to support Home in a very simple straight forward way.
Crecente: What about... these areas within home where you can create a store or a location? In talking to some developers around GDC I think while a lot of people are very excited I think one of the concerns is that the only people who could really, really make use of that in a big way, like what you were showing is like an EA. Do you think that the smaller third-parties are going to be able to use these services.
Harrison: It's really easy, it's Maya. I don't want to mischaracterize it and say it's cut and paste, because it's not. But if you are building a 3D world for your game. I have to be careful because I can't use real world examples.
Imagine a game that has a realistic street scene. It would be very simple to grab four of the buildings in that street scene that have been already created for the game anyway and for those to form the walls or the boundaries of the space. You could put a realistic floor down, you could put video, you could put banners. There are lots of ways you could do it. You could either do it very ultra realistic or you could do it sort of crazy weird, sci-fi. There are lots of approaches you could take, the simplest way would be to reuse 3D content. That was exactly the philosophy behind the choices we made in the tools and technology to make it really low impact for developers.
Now I understand why developers are asking questions because we've not shared all of the information with them. But we will address that.
Crecente: One of the things that have baffled a little bit is that there are some things that stand out about the PS3. One of them would be the hardware, you guys have not had any hardware problems. Everyone else has had hardware problems at launch and the PS3 seems pretty rock solid. Why haven't you tried to market it better. I've gone through eight Xbox 360s. Nintendo less so, they've had their strap issues, but we've also had a few reports of other problems. But zero with the PS3.
Harrison: It's not really surprising. Sony has a rich history of manufacturing skill and quality control going back sixty years. I come from a software background not a hardware background, but since I've been at Sony you realize there is something in the fabric of the company about the way we care about quality, the way we care about reliability, the way we care about the consumer. And so this has been played out in the fact that the Playstation One, Playstation Two and now the Playstation Three have all been incredibly well-built, incredibly reliable platforms, even though they often have been at the leading edge of available technology at the time.
But to pick-up on your question why don't we market that? That's like saying you know, when did you stop beating your wife. You can never turn a perceived negative into a positive. I don't think you need to market quality, quality is something people know.
Crecente: You can't say our console doesn't break.
Harrison: Yeah, forgive me, but that was a really stupid idea.
Crecente: But the thing that among hardcore gamers there was this perception of negative PS3 news and it's like why not say, hey, look what we did right?
Harrison: I had this conversation with N'Gai Croal, I don't know if you read the piece. By what measure was the Playstation 3 not a resounding, successful launch? Because we sold out, we managed to continue supply, we have had great line-up of software. We outsold ourselves in the same time frame and then you add to that the zero, although I'm sure it's not zero, clearly there is someone out there who has had a problem, it's never zero, in terms of notable problems, there's nothing. And I'm sure there were some people who had already written that story who felt damn I can't publish that story.
Crecente: I think it is not an arguable point that you can say that there has been this sort of backlash against Sony.
Crecente: Where is it coming from?
Harrison: You I would rather do, because time is short today, I would rather spend our time talking about the future, things going forward. The launch has been the launch. It's about to happen in Europe, I'm really excited about that.
PR: We are about down to two minutes.
Crecente: OK, two more questions.
Crecente: Software support. There seems to be a lag between the launch titles and Motorstorm, which I think is a fantastic title. How are things looking. Do you think you will have a strong line-up going forward?
Harrison: It's a killer line-up. When you launch a console it's never entirely predictable when the games are going to come out. But now we are into much more predictable software supply. You can look at the line-up starting with Formular 1, Motorstorm, MLB, Lair, Heavenly Sword, and moving into the fall with new games from Insomniac and Naughty Dog.
Not only do you have what I would describe as hardcore games, I don't like that description because I don't think it means anything, but games that people could game many days of the week. We have a second generation game coming from Insomniac. Their second release on the system will be happening this year. That is going to be very, very exciting to see.
Then lair on top of that two sort of market expanding areas. One is Playstation Network titles and the other is services that are going to appeal to new users, Home being one of them, LittleBigPlanet being another, SingStar being a third. I'm really happy with the line-up.
And then lair onto that what's coming from the third parties. I'm less up to speed on all of the features and benefits of those titles, because of the nature of the Chinese Wall, but I know we have some really interesting things coming from Konami, Sega, Square-Enix, EA, Take-2. Lucas Arts also has something very cool.
Crecente: Do you expect to take any heat from the Warhawk announcement being downloadable only.
Harrison: No, quite the opposite. Warhawk is the embodiment of pretty much what we've been talking about today, which is we now have a community of users who are online, connected online. Who want to play with or against each other online and recognize in many cases, not all cases, great gaming experiences happen against other human beings.
You have a fantastic game experience like Warhawk, so why wouldn't you take advantage of that and focus the efforts of the developer to make the best collaborative, cooperative, combative game you can. To make the best multi-modal combat game that there can be to take advantage of the hardware. I think it's a no brainer.
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