Interviews

Sony's Andrew House Pt. 1

The new head of PlayStation grants us a full and frank interview at the PS Vita's Japanese launch

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You've got 24 titles, which is impressive - the 3DS got a lot of criticism for having very few compelling launch titles. Also, that hasn't been a Sony strength in the past - developers have complained that their tools for the PS3, for example, were not friendly. Was that a conscious change of strategy?
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I think so. What we try to do as a company is to take the best learnings from the different platforms, and the things we gain from them. I think we learned from PSPGo that consumers want flexibility in terms of how they access their content, that they wanted both a packaged solution and a network distribution solution.

I think we learned also from the general PSP experience that delivering what is essentially a great handheld console game experience on a portable device was all well and good, but if we were able to add these different interfaces and interact differently with the content - and to use the immediacy of having a portable device always with you - that that was really important.

Looking further back, part of the original PlayStation's success, and part of the PlayStation 2's success, was the ease of use of the development environment. So I'd like to think that PS Vita has returned us to the core of that DNA, as well.

Earlier this year, Sony bought out Ericsson's stake of Sony Ericsson phones. What was the thinking behind that? And you've spoken about a synergy between Sony Ericsson, PlayStation and Sony consumer electronics. Can you expand on that?

There are a couple of ways of referring to that internally - one is a convergence strategy, and the other is a four-screen strategy. The core of that came from the way that Sir Howard Stringer decide to reorganise the company back in April this year. He decided to take all the consumer businesses and house them under one single leadership - my boss, Kaz Hirai. That included the PlayStation division, and any of the other products that have a consumer touch-point.

I think any opportunity then, and it's something I've experienced in the last four months since moving to this job in Tokyo - is to have a really strong, frequent engagement and interchange between the different business groups. And to have a real focus on looking for opportunities for collaboration, and where we can cross-pollinate the strengths of the organisation.

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We see our strengths in the camera business where, in most of the world, we have a very commanding leadership, married with some great experience on the gaming side, around developing our own proprietary operating systems, around developing the best interactive and user experiences.

And then we take those skills, and without a sense of territorialism, but with a sense of contributing to the greater good, of seeing those migrate out and help our other devices. I think the final goal is to have a much more Sony-esque, integrated user experience, that is common to our devices, but enhances the experience in each of those different categories.

Going back to the central question, I think the full acquisition of a company in a critical category like mobile phones was part of increasing that integration and convergence within the company.

And there will be tie-ups between Sony Ericsson and PlayStation?

There already are. I point to Xperia Play, the first PlayStation-certified phone, which combined a phone with the traditional PlayStation game interface. But that's part of a much broader initiative called PlayStation Suite, where we're starting with our own Sony group devices, but are hoping to make this a much broader, Android-based initiative that will go out to other companies' devices.

The key thing there is that you have to balance building the strength of your own devices with what I hope SCE brings to the rest of Sony, which is an understanding of how the content community thinks and operates, especially in the area of games. And what they're looking for is the broadest user base and a common set of development tools, to give maximum access to an audience.

Check back for part two of our interview with Sony's Andrew House later this week.

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