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PS3 Attitude

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sony President talks new IPs, knowledge sharing and PS3 waggle?

Sony's recently appointed President of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, has revealed some interesting nuggets in an interview over at IGN.

While his predecessor (Phil Harrison) was known to be somewhat of a Sony evangelist; an animated and passionate speaker often seen preaching about the PS3's virtues to all who would listen, Shuhei-san is known to be more softly spoken yet, at the same time, surprisingly honest in his opinions of how Sony are performing. Another difference the new President displays relates to where his focus lies as Shuhei-san appears to be more concerned with his background responsibilities; guiding the inner workings of the Sony machine as it expands its studio and IP acquisitions, rather than being a public figurehead.

During the interview by IGN, the enigmatic Sony veteran comments about where we are now, two years through the PS3's much-heralded ten year cycle. According to the recently appointed exec we've only "scratched the surface" but such depths will only be reached if the vanguards of creativity are willing to trade knowledge. Shuhei-san reiterates that all Sony studios must now embrace a sharing mentality if they are to overcome the complexities and challenges of developing in the current environment of spiralling budgets and untapped processor potential. He claims that "[Developing for] the PS3 is such a large undertaking it just doesn't make sense for each team to make every nut and bolt. We have really made a conscious effort to encourage sharing and we have underlying technology that we share with all these studios." This culture of mutually beneficial knowledge transferral has already been hinted at by studios such as Naughty Dog (Uncharted, the Jak & Daxter series) and SCE Santa Monica (God of War series) with their "working lunches" so it's good to hear that this helpful ethos of participation is being promoted as a Sony trait.

In terms of new IPs, Shuhei-san confirms that 2009 will be the year of fresh and exciting franchises. With Heavy Rain and MAG already revealed (albeit marginally) he admits that there are other upcoming titles "that we're not allowed to talk about." We can only assume this cryptic dossier includes the now almost legendary secret PS3 exclusive game shown to BBC columnist Darren Waters. However, Shuhei-san is tightlipped regarding the possibility that one such new IP likely to make its much-anticipated appearance in 2009 is Team ICO's next release and first venture on the PS3. Describing them as his "Olympic Team" (considering it takes four years for them to create a game) Shuhei-san states that he simply can not promise Team ICO's next potential masterpiece will make its debut next year. He explains that ICO producer Ueda-san is such a perfectionist that there are no guarantees it will be ready. Ironically, Shuhei-san helped form Team ICO with Ueda-san before the former moved to the U.S. to work for SCEA as part of his previous position. It's therefore anyone's guess what the executive has seen behind closed ICO doors - everything and its dog no doubt.

Finally, the interview sees Shuhei-san giving credit where credit is due; noting Nintendo's success at enticing non-gamers into the fold and commenting how this will affect Sony going forward. His expectation is that the gaming demographic in general will blossom with a section of these casual gamers converting into the more "hardcore" archetype and ultimately gravitating towards (hopefully) the PS3. At the same time Sony must appeal to this new market themselves and Shuhei admits that a key to this transformation is "interaction". Though not the first time this particular rumour has been flouted, it's interesting to see Shuhei-san repeating that a dedicated motion controller for the PS3 (ala the wiimote) is still a "possibility."


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