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Interview: PlayStation Europe CEO Jim Ryan

Key Sony executive on how Vita can become a profitable playground for other publishers

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So you wouldn't accept the view that there's less support for 3D gaming than before?
I'd have to look more closely at what third parties are doing. I wouldn't read into the fact too much that we didn't shout to the rooftops about 3D recently.

And there was no mention of the new PS3 either and-
-Which new PS3? [laughs]

Well it's been given the nickname PS3 Super Slim, though effectively it's a PS3 4000, and...
Can I get a pen?

[laughs] I just wonder why it wasn't mentioned.
Well, we had so much to talk about on the software side, and that's all we wanted to talk about.

How important do you consider retail partnerships to be over the next five years?
I think, on that time frame, they will be very important. Obviously one topic that is much discussed is the impact of the growing emphasis of digital distribution on existing retail arrangements.

It's interesting because previously the whole debate took a very binary approach. You either bought a game in a shop or online. But what we're now starting to see the business adopt hybrid models where the retailer is able to play a really legitimate and substantial role in the digital value chain.

The hybrid model itself is more prevalent in North America, but I think Europe is catching up. You know, the classic example is someone buys Call of Duty at retail and is upsold some vouchers for DLC. I think that business will definitely be incremental, significantly so.

Also I would say, and certainly for the next five years, that disc-based distribution is going to be the norm.

And I suppose Sony would be limiting its audience if it lurched to nothing but digital distribution.
Yeah I think it would. If you take Uncharted 3's file size, and look at the average internet speeds people have in Southern Europe, it would take about two days to download it [laughs]. So discs are going to be around for some time yet.

This model of launching new consoles with a ten-year lifespan; do you feel it is sustainable model going forwards? Do you expect the entire industry will adopt a more modular approach where consoles will be upgraded?
I think that's a really interesting question. I think that's already happening, and it manifests itself through firmware upgrades. Look, a box is a box, but if you compare PSN from 2007 and what we have now, it's actually chalk and cheese. But the improvement is always incremental.

So I think possibilities offered by a connected online universe, specifically the use of firmware, means my answer to your question is yes.

But the modular approach to future hardware, do you have any thoughts on that?
[Pause] I think... [Pause] Not particularly [smiles].

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