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Shuhei Yoshida Interview: The Present and Future of PS Vita

James Gallagher's Avatar + Posted by James Gallagher on Dec 20, 2011 // Blog Manager, SCEE

As you may have seen from the photo gallery I posted, I spent last week in Tokyo, Japan covering the first launch of PS Vita and finally getting to see this stunning new hardware in gamers’ hands. While I was there, I met up with Shuhei Yoshida, Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment and President of Worldwide Studios, to talk about what PS Vita is set to deliver in spades: great games.

Shuhei_pic1

PlayStation.Blog: Many view the PlayStation Vita launch line-up as the best in our company’s history. How long have you been planning it for?
Shuhei Yoshida, President, Worldwide Studios: Full development of PS Vita hardware started in Spring, 2008 when the semiconductor was complete. The great thing is that we [Worldwide Studios] were there right at the beginning to express our thoughts and reactions to the hardware that was being proposed. We were there at every stage and with every prototype, and we developed game builds to prove and, sometimes, disprove how each new feature was going to make for a great game system.

When Kaz Hirai took over management of SCEI he brought in the approach of fully integrating software and hardware development. Before that, we made brilliant hardware, no question of that, but our hardware team didn’t have such a good understanding of what game developers need or what features might be useful.

It is thanks to this way of working that you are seeing such a great line-up, using so many of the system’s unique features; it’s because our developers have been working with them from the moment each was conceived.

PSB: How far ahead are you looking now and what can we expect from the second and third phases of releases?
SY: Generally we look three years ahead when we work on games. We have a fairly firm plan right up to 2013 but, because PS Vita gives us the opportunity to work on smaller titles like Escape Plan and Sound Shapes, I’m certain we will end up working on more games than we even know about at this moment. On top of the launch line-up, we have already announced LittleBigPlanet, Resistance: Burning Skies, ModNation: Road Trip, and Killzone.

In the past we launched PSP and then shifted our attention to PS3 when that came on the horizon, which we now concede was a mistake. So with PS Vita we are working on this huge range titles and planning ahead for a constant supply of excellent games.

PSB: Augmented Reality (AR) has already been used in some great games but perhaps games aimed at a younger or more casual audience. What is going to convince hardcore gamers that it’s a compelling new way to play?
SY: One thing I know about hardcore gamers is that they hate it when we try to shove new technology down their throats. There may be a perception that Augmented Reality is a gimmick, so we have to provide something that is robust and genuinely enhances the experience. You’re right that AR leans more towards a casual or a younger audience but I don’t think that’s a bad thing; I think that it helps PS Vita to be more relevant to a wider group of people. The more we experiment, I’m sure that we will see real gameplay benefits for hardcore players.

PSB: As someone involved in unearthing new development talent, does it excite you seeing smaller teams coming up with really compelling download and mobile games?
SY: Absolutely – my personal PS Vita game is a totally immersive experience called Sound Shapes (which is especially great when you’re wearing headphones). It’s made by Jonathan Mak who created Everyday Shooter all by himself, designing the graphics and even composing the music. With this new game he has some huge ambitions: he has even hired a couple of people!

I’m a fan of these small developers – The best thing is that they have experience in every part of planning, developing and releasing. It’s not like they have left school and gone to work in a team of 100, only ever working on one particular aspect of their game. They don’t follow the traditional game conventions; some of them are very vocal about trying to break those rules. They are the next generation and they will be changing the landscape of gaming long after I have retired.

PS Vita: Sound Shapes

PSB: Is there one attribute that you’re always looking for in a PlayStation developer?
SY: I don’t necessarily work on recruiting any more as there are producers in our studios reaching out and looking for new talent. Each of them has his or her special thing that they look for but passion is the one common attribute. If a developer is asking you what you want them to develop, then that is not a good question; producers are looking for people with conviction in their own ideas.

PSB: PlayStation 3 has introduced predominantly new IPs from Worldwide Studios, whereas PS Vita has a mix of the new and the familiar. What can we expect to see in the long term?
SY: People like to see their favourite franchises, partly because gaming is about learning a mechanic and developing a skill, and players want to use those skills that they have honed. However, when we introduce new hardware with unique interfaces and network options, it is almost easier to work on something completely new. Take rear touch on PS Vita – we’d rather be thinking about how we can make fresh games using that feature than figuring out ways to add it to something that already exists.

PSB: Developers have stated that PS Vita is relatively easy to develop for, but how do you quantify that and put it into some perspective for our readers?
SY: If you’re keeping track of the third-party games that are being developed then you’ll be amazed at how quickly they are coming together. I’ve been working with our internal dev teams on launch games and they’ve had longer cycles because they were also, in part, helping to debug the early prototypes of the hardware and the SDK.

When I saw new developers coming in and getting straight to work on those systems when they had matured, I could not believe how quickly they were getting their games up and running. I have never seen anything like it before. If you want very straightforward evidence to support that, we are launching PS Vita here in Japan with 24 games.

PSB: Which games do you predict will be most popular at the Japanese launch?
SY: Actually, we collect data from retailers taking pre-orders and we know that Everybody’s Golf (note: known as Hot Shots Golf in North America) is the most popular and UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss is number two. I’m very proud that they are both Worldwide Studios titles.

PSB: It’s perceived that Japanese gaming tastes are quite different to those in Europe and the Americas. Do you see them growing closer?
SY: Japanese people traditionally have a strong local preference, particularly with the Manga style look of characters that they love. But as technology and presentation advances in games like UNCHARTED and Call of Duty, they are rightly seeing their quality. Also, it helps that SCEJ paid a lot of money to get Harrison Ford to appear on TV playing UNCHARTED!

//Add Your Own

94 Comments

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51

+ SlightSkill on December 20th, 2011 at 3:14 pm said:

@all the memory cards are comparable to what many other high quality memory is sold at for the same type. It’s not as simple as flash memory. I do hope they encourage a digital format at a reduced price so you’ll only need to manage your data space or buy in to building your game library in investing in a higher spaced one. Also as for the portable gamers this is a huge win its not for everyone but it does handle a gap that been left empty that alot of core gamers want filled. We dont care for smartphone games, we want high end titles with a good comunity behind it.


52

+ BlueBl1zzard on December 20th, 2011 at 3:17 pm said:

Sony a couple of questions about the 4G Vita

1.Do you EVER plan on allowing 3G with Verizon sometime in the future?

2.If I get the 3G Vita and dont use the 3G I can still use the wifi right?


53

+ SlightSkill on December 20th, 2011 at 3:27 pm said:

@51 yes you can use the wifi/as a priority access when it detects it before using 3g. tested one at a promo setup. no idea if they plan on using verizon prolly not at launch is a for sure thing id guess.


54

+ luvtoseek on December 20th, 2011 at 3:35 pm said:

@ 47, Brain723- hi buddy, I understand that the higher prices are a turn-off. However, I think this new format is a measure to fight piracy that really hurt the PSP. The Vita’s hardware & software can only recognize Sony’s new memory card, in which case to prevent app loaders from hacking the OS. We do know the result of a heavily pirated system- support & production for titles from developers will disappear.

Do what alot of buyes are doing- buy a 8GB card & swap titles on your PC/PS3 at your leisure. & let’s not forget that historically, memory prices do drop- I can recall large harddrives & SSD prices that were totally unaffordable.


55

+ nitroz76 on December 20th, 2011 at 3:40 pm said:

i allready have my vita, I just want PSN to work on it now….


56

+ ZachWuzHere on December 20th, 2011 at 4:13 pm said:

@ krae_man Yes every thing will be available to buy, like uncharted hot shot golf etc. and accessories. the only thing you cant get is the vita normal edition on the 22nd.
http://www.gamestop.com/ps-vita


57

+ luvtoseek on December 20th, 2011 at 4:14 pm said:

@ 55, nitroz76- You’re lucky having the Vita already! But the NA Vita PSN store won’t be up until it releases here. You can’t even sign on & to your NA PSN acct.


58

+ Brain723 on December 20th, 2011 at 5:28 pm said:

@ 47, I am under the same impression as you, and if the measure successfully combats piracy then I can get behind it. (it seems like just about every piece of consumer electronics gets hacked pretty quickly no matter what people try).

Of course things drop in price after release, such is the way of electronics. I was questioning whether it was wise of Sony to charge that much at launch.

The thing that I think is really underhanded is that a memory card is required to play a good number of the games, which makes the least I can really pay for the system $275. Now I think that is a perfectly reasonable price for the vita, but I resent being told that it is a $250 system when it is not. “Look, look–we hit the magical $250 price point for this amazing piece of tech.” “No, you didn’t, and I don’t think it is good customer service to try and make me believe that you did.”

This is not a problem that is unique to Sony but that doesn’t make it an honorable practice. I love my Sony products and I want very much to like the company as much as I like their devices. Making memory cards a somewhat hidden cost, and then making that cost somewhat costly prevents me from liking Sony as much as I want to.


59

+ subadictos on December 20th, 2011 at 5:44 pm said:

You can’t play PSOne classics on Vita??? WTF???

That would be very STUPID.


60

+ Apollo4x on December 20th, 2011 at 6:33 pm said:

@58 subadictos

He said that you can’t play them at launch. But, based on what Sony has said there will be a patch for the system to allow you to play those games on the system.


61

+ Street_Killaz on December 20th, 2011 at 6:37 pm said:

I cant wait for PS VITA…Did not miss out on PSP so not going to miss out on PS VITA..Uncharted and VITA day one!! ftww


62

+ joeyxx4 on December 20th, 2011 at 6:42 pm said:

I’m actually really excited for the psvita, and I dont mind paying 250$ for it because the features and power you get will make it worth it, I regret paying 250 for the 3ds, biggest waste of money I ever made…


63

+ alexh4319 on December 20th, 2011 at 6:50 pm said:

@61 same here


64

+ DTXSFC on December 20th, 2011 at 8:04 pm said:

Please add LocationFree Player to the Vita.


65

+ micturator on December 20th, 2011 at 8:31 pm said:

Please at least put flash player 10 or 11 support for the vita web browser. Also please allow auto-rotation of the browser window like with the xperia play , but just for the web browser in the vita. I only wish you guys made a time machine so I could skip to 2/22 right now. I so want some Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus on my shiny new Vita.


66

+ izzy_dastar on December 20th, 2011 at 9:13 pm said:

Im Going to get get one once it comes out because ill be saving up


67

+ Elvick_ on December 20th, 2011 at 10:20 pm said:

I hope you have Netflix working on an app, I want one on there quickly after launch. :3

Already Pre-ordered the First Edition Bundle. Can’t wait. D: I’m dying for PSVita.

Thanks for making it region free by the way. It’s an often unappreciated feature when it’s included, but when it’s not there everyone complains, and rightfully so. *looks at Nintendo* D:<


68

+ SHINSPIKES on December 20th, 2011 at 11:39 pm said:

Yoshida says, “One thing I know about hardcore gamers is that they hate it when we try to shove new technology down their throats.”

We don’t hate it when new tech comes out, we hate it when companies like sony try to sell propietary tech, thats shoved down our throats. I don’t remember anyone hatin when a new game engine comes out to make games look better. Having us buy these “memory cards” is something he needs to have a 2nd look at. Then eat his own words.


69

+ luvtoseek on December 21st, 2011 at 12:30 am said:

@ 67, SHINSPIKES- In this case, a new format is a double edged sword. Sony developed it to combat piracy which brought the PSP down & now, we have to pay for that research. Remember, a pirated console will push Devs away, & that leads to a lack of games/content. The upside is that game saves are under 5mb (check the web) & I’ve heard that perhaps you can save your game on the actual title cartridge. Therefore, besides hurting pirates, the purpose of this new memory is to store digital media- games, music, videos, etc.

Purchase a small one (4GB, let’s say) for now. We all know how memory prices drop; then you can buy the larger cards later… but if it simply comes down to a new memory format that will DETER you from purchasing a Vita, then you are missing alot for a MINOR convenience.


70

+ SHINSPIKES on December 21st, 2011 at 1:00 am said:

@luvtoseek

I totally get what ur sayin. But, having new memory cards just for the sake of piracy alone doesn’t keep devs. All of yah should know this already. With all the exclusives we had in the early life of the ps3, did devs choose to stay on the ps3??? NO. We lost many exclusives and devs cause the ps3 did not sell. The Vita is on the same track. Devs won’t stay because their is a new way to keep things safe. They will stay if sony can sell these consoles with those memory cards. The hardcore like us wants it, but the many more casuals WILL NOT see the purpose of purchasing a new expensive console just to pay more to get a memory card.


71

+ Emerald_Swords on December 21st, 2011 at 1:40 am said:

Hopefully the vita stays almost hack free.


72

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 21st, 2011 at 4:05 am said:

@luvtoseek

They only research done was likely for new DRM schemes and other “security features” the memory itself looks to be nothing more than MS Micro M2′s in a slightly altered shell. I have nothing against Sony going proprietary but a lot of people are going and already balked at the price of the memory, you can get a 4GB M2 for five bucks, 8GB for less than ten, what is very likely the same memory for the PSV is five times that, for Sony and publishers who want to push DD, which I am not the biggest fan of, they’re scaring off a lot of potential customers and the average person seeing that discrepancy will immediately think “huge rip off”. That’s not to say they shouldn’t make a healthy profit on them, but they went over the edge on the pricing. Better pricing IMO would have been $20 for the 4GB and then a 50-60% price increase for each following card. Sony hasn’t even released the specs for them which is ridiculous at this point with the handheld being released last week though we know they apparently aren’t fast enough to keep up with the game cards, yes there’s a few other factors but it doesn’t make the memory cards look good.

To be continued….


73

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 21st, 2011 at 4:05 am said:

Continued…. See, told you so.

I’d be surprised if they were any faster than standard M2 cards. I’m sure prices will come down however unlike the case with the PSP I doubt we’ll ever see a third party, mainly in this case Sandisk, produce their own versions of them even if they share the memory stick rights with Sony. I’m sure there’s something either software based or some minor tweak that would prevent any company from producing cards without paying for licensing (well, without getting sued) and I doubt Sony will be willing to give them up.

The massive mark up is either Sony’s way to making it up to retailers (which mean there’s a huge amount of room for price cuts) who might lose sales on games or simply Sony’s way to work on making back the investment put into the handheld faster. It’s understandable but at the same time they might just be shooting themselves in the foot.


74

+ MrTechno612 on December 21st, 2011 at 6:07 am said:

I STILL want to know the info and details of 3G. I know I will get it (First Edition Bundle US), but I am waiting until I know more about the 3G part of it. I might of missed a post about this, though. Also, can we use wi-fi and not 3G even if we get a 3G & Wi-Fi PSV?


75

+ SOOPERGOOMAN187 on December 21st, 2011 at 6:45 am said:

I just got my Android dev license, Gooman Games is a reality. I have a great idea for an AR game, how much does the vita dev units cost? Im a lifelong gamer, played centipede before anyone else in the world when it first came out. my AR game would run great on Vita what with the two cams. my game puts ur face in it amongst other objects in your imediat surroundings and is a mmo. Great bit of kit ya got there guys. Yes I’m about to be an Indie developer. My dreams are coming true.


76

+ Butters360 on December 21st, 2011 at 11:21 am said:

For those that care to read: The Verge’s 11 page definitive review of the PlayStation Vita is up. To sum it all up, it’s the best handheld ever made :)


77

+ remanutd5 on December 21st, 2011 at 11:43 am said:

is it true that when some titles push the vita hardware it will ask you to make choices of functions ? like disabling wifi and screenshot for example ? people are complaining about Uncharted Golden Abyss disabling online features , can that be fixed with a patch ? and why is that we wont be able to view our trophies for vita games on the ps3 ? i dont see any excuse for that , please fix that with a firmware update


78

+ luvtoseek on December 21st, 2011 at 12:46 pm said:

@ 72 & 73, lPHOENIXZEROl- “Continued…. See, told you so.” What?! Told me what? Obviously old memory standards are cheaper, just like old tech- that’s a natural timeline. However, your statement here backs what is likely a measure to STOP bootloaders on the Vita:

“I’m sure there’s something either software based or some minor tweak that would prevent any company from producing cards without paying for licensing (well, without getting sued) and I doubt Sony will be willing to give them up.”

Only that it’s not a minor tweak, but a *major* factor in which the Vita’s OS will not recognize another memory standard in the machine.

People, these chips will drop in price. In Japan, the larger sizes (16 & 32GB) are SOLD out. It’s not like we are restricted to 2-3 price ranges for them; there’s 2 to 32GB in sizeS. Again, if the cost of a memory chip will sway you from buying a Vita… well I really don’t know what to say to that. :/


79

+ wutangkillaninja on December 21st, 2011 at 4:19 pm said:

You can play psOne classics with remote play. Here is proof watch the whole video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-qjaoITAUc


80

+ poisonedsodapop on December 21st, 2011 at 4:41 pm said:

I’ll buy one when it comes in a color other than black (preferably white) and memory cards aren’t god awful expensive. As it stands now I can’t see this as a worthy investment. I’ll stick with my PSP and 3DS.


81

+ poisonedsodapop on December 21st, 2011 at 4:45 pm said:

@78 The memory card size is a HUGE deal for me. I have a 8GB in my PSP. I spent about $28 on it a year+ ago. I have it FULL! So I was thinking in the case of a vita I’d expand to a 32GB. That’d be an extra $120 on day one. I already spent $250 on my 3DS this year only to be burned by a price drop a few short months later. I still love my system, I just almost kind of regret jumping in at launch though I’d been hyped for months. With the Vita I’m uncomfortable about the launch. No PS1 support at launch and the other reasons I mentioned make me want to avoid it for the time being. I’ll pick one up one day, just not at launch. I’m unhappy with how it’s being handled.


82

+ poisonedsodapop on December 21st, 2011 at 4:49 pm said:

And on another side note I don’t even have all the content for my PSP on my 8GB card. I have a ton of stuff that is NOT on my PS3 or PSP. My PS3 is also full at 120GB…


83

+ luvtoseek on December 21st, 2011 at 8:57 pm said:

@ 80, poisonedsodapop- I get that it’s expensive for the largest sized memory card. But that’s how everything is sold; if you want the fastest CPU, roomiest harddirve, there’s a price spike. As I’ve mentioned, invest in the smaller capacities until you can afford the size you want. Gaming is an expensive hobby…;)


84

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:13 am said:

@75 SOOPERGOOMAN187

PSV devkits are $3,000, however you can get the SDK unless you’re going to be making strictly PSV games, it’s still in Beta but due for release soon, you can find info about here, look for “PS Suite”.

I’d work on the name though.

@78 luvtoseek

That was directed at the end of the first part of my post not you specifically.

It’s purely software related and a minor tweak to the cards over their obvious M2 counterparts and by minor tweak I mean just the form of the shell they encased in, it’s not as if they’re investing heavily in new fabrication to produce this flash memory nor is it anything close to a brand new design. It does not justify the prices of said cards and that is IF there is such software on the cards which I’ve suspected since they were announced that does not equal a new format nor does it again, justify their high price. Until proven otherwise these cards are M2s in a SLIGHTLY altered shell with updated “security”.


85

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:21 am said:

Four sizes, 4, 8, 16 and 32GB, they won’t drop in price unless retailers decide to cut them unless Sony releases them with a lower MSRP. Sony has shown plenty of times in the past that they’re comfortable with their cards being overpriced and unlike the PSP we WILL be stuck with one option. The 16 and 32GB cards were sold out because Japan is a lot more into portables and spend more time out and about, we also don’t know how many of each SKU were released. It’s pretty much a given that outside of Japan the 16 and 32GB cards will be less popular especially at the prices they seem to be set at.

The only way DD is ever going to truly succeed on consoles is if the prices are significantly lower than retail as they should be. We see none of the savings as it goes back into the publisher’s pocket and eventually DD versions end up costing more as retailers lower their prices but that’s cool with publishers since it means more money for them and still prevents the hated used sales. PSV games with retail counterparts selling for the same price on both or a negligible “discount” along with over priced memory cards? Yeah, that isn’t going over well with a lot of people.


86

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:21 am said:

Sony could totally justify a higher than normal memory card prices if DD games were sharply discounted to close to retailer costs. People would buy larger memory cards, possibly multiple and retailers would still get something for selling the hardware. Problem is, retailers hate DD due to the fact that DD versions of retail games can cost be sharply less than physical copies and the reason they don’t is because of agreements between retailers and publishers that partially prevent it, even when the retail copy drops below DD’s price.

There’s no defending the possible price for the cards, it’s a OLD format in a new shell and updated security features. The reaction to their prices (especially the 32GB card) has been overwhelmingly negative, even on pro-Sony/PSP/Vita sites, that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing. I have no doubt the PSV’s launch in N.A. Will be as successful as the Japanese launch compared to the PSP’s however the memory cards are chasing away some potential customers who see the memory cards as an over priced required additional (some say hidden) cost and they have a point since you need it to play several games, even though they have room to spare on the game cards.


87

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:25 am said:

I’ve had my PSV pre-ordered since 6/13, I also intend to but a 16GB card though I was going with the 32GB card until last month since the idea of paying nearly half the price of a PSV for a memory card turned me off and is something I will not do. I’ve been out of handheld gaming for nearly 10 years, since my utter disappointment with the GBA, which I foolishly bought at launch. Its annoying issues and how Nintendo handled it was the final nail in the Big N’s coffin for me. I planned on catching up on a lot of the PSP games I’ve missed over the years with the PSV. Of course that is if I keep my pre-order as there’s still two months where I could easily change my mind. I have plenty of other distractions and no longer get hyped for things so it’s not as if I must have it at launch, could even wait until the revision, another year or two won’t kill me though I don’t want to wait that long but like a lot of others, I’m still on the fence and Sony’s choices over the next two months will ultimately decide the choice I make.

Okay, I spent way too much time on this, more actually editing/trimming it down than actually writing it and none of this matters.


88

+ IsraelCommander on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:07 pm said:

Will there be netflix ?


89

+ lPHOENIXZEROl on December 22nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm said:

D’oh! Now Sony finally release the proper pricing for the memory cards, was expecting it’d be released this week but then also figured it could be held off until next year. I’m sure feedback was taken into account, IMO the 16 and 32GB cards are still higher than where they could be but that’s a good bit closer to what I was expecting and I’m fine with it. The 4GB and 8GB cards were exactly what I expected since TGS, the 16GB and 32GB cards are close though IMO the 16GB should be $5-$10 less, it’s odd it’d be exactly twice the price of the 8GB card unless you guys want people to buy two 8GB cards instead. Still high? A bit but IMO the prices for 4/8GB cards are perfectly fine and the other two are close enough. I’m sure if there’s a good bit of online retailer competition they’ll come down slightly.

Looks like I’ll be picking up a 32GB card after all. :P


90

+ mnw4u on December 22nd, 2011 at 8:03 pm said:

can it come out before Xmis


91

+ mnw4u on December 22nd, 2011 at 8:04 pm said:

can it have lbp2?


92

+ haasssie on December 28th, 2011 at 1:25 am said:

I hope they make a Battlefield for the playstation vita.


93

+ La_maravich_22 on December 29th, 2011 at 10:11 pm said:

Does Sony will give support to the updates of the apps for the ps vita?


94

+ jnel17jun on December 30th, 2011 at 4:14 pm said:

@James Gallagher

I was wondering if you had any news about a White PSVITA !?!?!?


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