On PS3 sales, LBP's delay and the future of PlayStation.
Sony Computer Entertainment UK managing director Ray Maguire is in charge of everything PlayStation in good old Blighty. He's the man responsible for the PS3, the PSP and all the gaming goodness Sony has to offer on these shores. So, with the crucial Christmas period coming up, and with Sony under pressure to cut the price of the PS3 to combat recent price drops from Microsoft, we thought it would be a good time to sit down with the big cheese himself at the recent Games 3.0 conference in London to get the low-down on how the PS3 is doing in the UK and what fans can expect in the future.
VideoGamer.com: How is the PS3 doing in the UK in terms of sales?
Ray Maguire: It's obviously selling extremely well in the UK and it's the third largest single territory in the world. In the UK it's absolutely on line. Obviously actual sell through is always relevant to price point. Now the price point we're at, with the features we've got that we obviously have to charge for, it's absolutely on target.
VideoGamer.com: With the recent Xbox 360 price cut and the current price of the Nintendo Wii, is there any pressure to cut the price of the PS3 this Christmas?
RM: Well the pressure comes from the consumers obviously and so therefore there's always pressure on price, but you know we have a business to run, and we have to make sure we're doing the right thing for the shareholders as well. At the moment there's a marketplace for PS3 and I think for this particular Christmas, with the kind of quality of games we're seeing coming out, I don't think the price of the console is going to be an issue at all. I think that the fact that we're seeing games like LittleBigPlanet, which starts to use some of the power of the processor and starts to give the consumer a completely new experience in terms of being able to be totally creative and upload and share their creativity, it's going to be just the sort of product that PlayStation has been waiting for.
VideoGamer.com: I wanted to talk to you about downloadable content. Some of our PS3-owning readers have expressed frustration regarding the fact that they won't be able to get downloadable content for games like GTA 4, Fallout 3 and Tomb Raider: Underworld. Is there anything you can say to your fans who are looking at Microsoft tying up these exclusive DLC deals and feel left out in the cold?
RM: One thing to remember, nothing is ever exclusive. Things get wrapped up for a period of time for a large amount of money and if it's a strategic decision by competition to do that then we have to live with that. Obviously, what we have to do is make sure that our business plan is adhered to and we have the amount of money to invest in games rather than investing in stopping other people making games and progressing. So I would much rather that we were investing money into making sure that we've got great R&D and we start producing games like LittleBigPlanet rather than paying other people a huge amount of money to stop people playing their product.
VideoGamer.com: You say nothing is ever exclusive. Might the DLC that's exclusive to Xbox 360 owners eventually come to PS3 owners?
RM: You have to remember that most third-party publishers of course have a business proposition that covers all platforms. With our own of course it's different because our investment would purely be on our own platforms, and that's the same as any first party. That's a small part of the overall offering nowadays, and the days of big exclusives, I think they were over a couple of years ago but they're certainly over now.
VideoGamer.com: Regarding PlayStation Home, the open beta is planned for the end of this year. Do you have any idea at this point how long that might last?
RM: Well basically open beta is basically it, that's the launch. The whole premise of Home is that it's something which evolves. And we've taken step by step, we've added more people in to test the infrastructure, now we start bringing it open to consumers. They come in, they start building the actual spirit of Home if you like and they start using the spaces and they start using the game launches and the trophy rooms. It's now, in the same way as they started to experiment and be creative with LittleBigPlanet, we have the same issue, or the same opportunity with Home.
VideoGamer.com: So you would consider when the open beta launches that that can be considered Home actually launching properly?
VideoGamer.com: But that won't be available to everyone...
RM: We'll just bring them on bit by bit by bit by bit, making sure that the servers all stand up, making sure the service we're offering is consistent all the way through, so it's a constant roll on now and it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
VideoGamer.com: Home is a massive free update for PS3. Are you planning anything as wide ranging in terms of changing how people use their PS3 following the release of Home?
RM: I guess it's up to consumers really. We will listen to them and see what they want. It starts very much as a game space, but there's nothing to stop it becoming much more than that, and much more becoming a social network in itself, with game and also non-game activities, whether it be movies, music, shopping, there's no reason why it can't expand into anything that consumers want. But again we have to focus on what we need to deliver first which is a great game launching experience, a great communication experience, a great networking experience and a great trophy room experience as well.
VideoGamer.com: How are trophies going in terms of the vision you had for them for this point compared with the reality?
RM: What do you expect when you get points, when you get power ups, when you get trophies? You actually think of a visual representation of that. The feeling of pride, if you go to a sports day and you win best of something and you hold up that trophy, it's actually holding up a trophy and getting the recognition from everyone else, that you've got something that's personal. Being able to put that into a personal space which you can invite people into just delivers that same experience. Now we need third parties as well to make sure the trophy systems that they're putting together are able to live up to that dream.
VideoGamer.com: Would you like to see more support for trophies from third parties?
RM: Yeah. We've built the space, now we need people to fill the space.