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Andy House Interview: Gearing Up For PS Vita

James Gallagher's Avatar + Posted by James Gallagher on Feb 20, 2012 // Blog Manager, SCEE

The launch of PlayStation Vita is just two days away and hopefully your thumbs are twitching at the prospect of getting it into your hands and enjoying what we believe is the strongest launch line-up of games in PlayStation history.

One man that has had a part to play in that history is Andy House, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. I recently spoke to him about life in Japan, the imminent launch of PS Vita and how we as a business are welcoming this proud new addition to the PlayStation family.

In Pictures: PlayStation Vita Launches In Japan 17

PlayStation.Blog: This is your second time working in Tokyo, how has the Japanese games market changed in the time you’ve been away?

Andy House, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment: Well that intervening period was 15 years so things have changed dramatically. What’s interesting, and the one thing that hasn’t really changed, is that you still see these sales spikes of a system based on a single major game release, and I think that Japan is the most content-driven of the three major markets in that sense.

The other difference is that there seems to be a shift in Japanese gamers’ habits – in the last four or five years there seems to be a much greater focus on portable consoles and we’ve seen that in recent sales of PSP versus PlayStation 3.

I speak with a lot of games publishers and developers and, to be honest, I don’t think any of us fully understand what is underpinning that trend. Developer creativity in the portable space is a factor but I don’t think that is the only reason. It could be aligned with lifestyle habits and people generally spending more of their time commuting.
We’ve benefited greatly, of course, and PSP sales have been fantastic and will continue to be so, even though we now have a brand new console available.

PSB: PSP sold in large numbers very early into its launch while the home consoles have seen a more gradual ramp up. What is the target with PS Vita?

AH: I think it depends on which home console you are referring to – the ramp up on PlayStation 2 was spectacular while the increase in PS3 sales has been more gradual, in part because it was a more complex value proposition. We have to be very honest and say that the higher price point was a limiting factor when comparing PS3 to PS2.

PSP was very strong out of the gate because we focused on the most successful aspects of what was the most popular console of the time [PS2] and applied them to a portable. What we have learned since is that you also need to provide experiences that are tailored to a portable environment – that’s when something special happens.

PS Vita Image

PSB: PSP was positioned as a multimedia device and yet, while PlayStation Vita has many of the same multimedia features such as music and video playback, they have been less of a focus. Why is that?

AH: I’d say it’s because we’re at a time where people expect those features that you mentioned, as well as the ability to connect with friends, in all of their portable devices. For a positioning standpoint it is crucially important that we get PS Vita right as a games console because that is its key selling point and the key reason why the early audience is going to be interested.

Having said that, I do hope that the extra capabilities – whether that’s playing media or connecting with friends via Facebook, Twitter or FourSquare – are going to add an extra degree of delight when you start up your PS Vita for the first time.

PSB: Will we see more non-gaming applications in future?

AH: I see a lot of potential in that area further down the line as we learn more about what our customers are looking for. Our strategy for launch has been to fulfil the critical needs in areas such as social networking with Twitter, Facebook, Skype and FourSquare, and make sure that they are well designed, well integrated and available right from the start.

From there we will look at what else we can do, particularly with the 3G connectivity, to give people a greater feeling of immediacy with their games and other activities. This is an important area for us.

PSB: Can you explain the strategy behinds the retail model, with all games being available to download and certain titles also available on Game Cards?

AH: What we are trying to achieve is a retail model that is as consumer friendly as it can be. With PlayStation Vita we are offering customers the ease of downloading games where that makes sense, while also recognising that it may be more convenient to buy the more data intensive games on physical media, and providing that option with Game Cards.

Customers are telling us that they want both of those options – they like the immediacy and quick access that you get from a flash media solution but they don’t necessarily want to carry a lot of games around with them in addition to the device.
We’re trying to cater for both of those impulses, even though they’re slightly conflicted.

PSB: With that in mind, how will pricing react to the customer expectation that digital versions should be cheaper than physical copies?

AH: We are aiming to recognise that expectation and have a lower price point for downloadable versions of games; we will need to evaluate exactly what difference that will be.

We have fantastic relationships with retail partners who have a large stake in the success of PlayStation Vita and we want that to continue, but we recognise the need to have a lower price point for digital games taking into account that you don’t have packaging costs and other extra considerations associated with physical copies.

PSB: Are you able to qualify what makes a good portable game as opposed to a home one?

AH: I’d say it needs to have been distinctly designed to be on a portable and I think that one of PS Vita’s strengths is the way its interfaces lend itself to that.

There are ways that you can interact with existing franchises that are just not possible in the home and I think that’s what our customers are looking for – a tailored experience where the game is produced to a standard that you would expect from PlayStation, and presented on this jaw-droppingly beautiful OLED screen.

By building this set of tangible ways to interact with the device we have given developers a robust creative pallet to work with.

PSB: The game development climate has changed and we are now seeing smaller teams achieving great success with shorter lead times. How will we react to that with regards to PlayStation Vita, and in general as a company?

AH: There are two points to that and the first is that we have created a much easier development environment than we have for previous platforms. That facilitates experimentation and combined with the opportunities digital distribution provides, such as removing the risk of having to commit to an inventory stock, we are able to lower the barrier of entry for developers and hopefully encourage them to experiment and take risks.

An extension to that is PlayStation Suite which, for me, is an initiative that runs in parallel to PS Vita. What we have there is a very low cost development environment and an opportunity to immediately access a broad and growing range of Android devices and the install base that comes with them, as well as the option to make your content compatible with PS Vita. In essence, PlayStation Suite is an extra route into delivering PS Vita content that will be available to a much larger pool of developers, and in a much more agile, quicker to market way.

An extension to that is PlayStation Suite which, for me, is an initiative that runs in parallel to PS Vita. What we have there is a very low cost development environment and an opportunity to immediately access a broad and growing range of Android devices and the install base that comes with them, as well as the option to make your content compatible with PS Vita. In essence, PlayStation Suite is an extra route into delivering PS Vita content that will be available to a much larger pool of developers, and in a much more agile, quicker to market way.

//Add Your Own

43 Comments

1

+ zackolmstead on February 20th, 2012 at 8:20 am said:

Hey, this might be the wrong place to ask this, but since it was the newest post, I figured it’d have the best chance that someone actually answered. I’m slightly confused on how 3G works on the vita. Does it cost data to do something like watch netflix through 3G? and if so, is it worth it? Thanks!


2

+ Olan on February 20th, 2012 at 8:29 am said:

Just a small correction. You’ve repeated the last paragraph.


3

+ DarknessToxicity on February 20th, 2012 at 8:36 am said:

do you need to buy memory card or can you do update on ps3


4

+ Zookey on February 20th, 2012 at 8:38 am said:

@1 Your best bet is to watch Netflix through Wi-Fi (it would take up your entire month’s data allowance on 3G FAST!!)–3G is for social networking and multiplayer from my understanding (I have a 3G, just have only been using WiFi so far with no problems).


5

+ Zookey on February 20th, 2012 at 8:39 am said:

@3 you should try to atleast have a 4 gig card for game saves and such–personally, I traded in some stuff and bought a 32—one thing I love about portables that support downloadable games is that you can go on a plane trip and not accidentally drop game carts and have to crawl around a bouncing plane to get them back :-)


6

+ shinjix2 on February 20th, 2012 at 8:51 am said:

I would love to see a Geocaching app on the 3G model!!


7

+ Teflon02 on February 20th, 2012 at 9:00 am said:

great news im getting my vita on the 29th
Question alil off topic tho
A ModNation Post is usually up at 10am and it’s 12pm, does this mean no ModNation Post for the week?


8

+ zombie9 on February 20th, 2012 at 9:02 am said:

never herd of a Randy House before. But as far a sales go PS2 is still KING.


9

+ Major_Hoare on February 20th, 2012 at 9:15 am said:

Why was there no mention of Netflix in this article?


10

+ punkmusic2009 on February 20th, 2012 at 10:18 am said:

i got my ps vita i mouth before everyone its ok plus im playing far cry 3 on my pc and ghost recon the new one on my pc its alsome i have netflix on my psp and on the ps vita


11

+ stewbrew on February 20th, 2012 at 10:30 am said:

@6 THAT IS A AWESOME IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


12

+ xCh0z3n-0n3x on February 20th, 2012 at 10:35 am said:

RELEASE THE DAMN THING ALREADY! lol


13

+ materclobber on February 20th, 2012 at 10:50 am said:

any news on playstation suite? its like you guys abandoned it lol. please reply


14

+ mcbuttz78 on February 20th, 2012 at 11:01 am said:

to mr House… ithinkwhen said when they digital games thats when spectatcular things happen orgood things happen..

I thinkyou guys need to get rpgs on vita. A demon sould rpg exclusive for ps vita. the monster hunters series on ps vita skyrim game exclusive for ps vita.. You guys really need to go big from the starts dont wait 2 yrs for this to happen.Alot gamers want something i differ.. I understand psn is leading gaming place inthe world in differ gaming choices and new devs.. This is key to getting alot of in house money and making stronger 1st party titles, also putting ps vita onthe map early and strongly. research will show rpg are selling faster and more betterin recent years.. that is key to success for any console

The psp systm is the world leading rpg gaming console.. Thats a fact.. dont let that title go to spoil Mr house.

mcbuttz78
vp-psn legionairee group


15

+ Crotin on February 20th, 2012 at 11:26 am said:

I’m kind of disappointed with how reviewers are looking at the Vita.

“Uncharted is amazing…but only 99% as good as t console version. 7/10″

They just don’t get it. Either games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies are enough for them to NOT buy it, or they’re reasoning behind hating is because it’s not 100% as good as a home console. Or they use optional touchscreen control use as a negative.

Anyways, I certainly can’t wait for the Vita this week. As a longtime PSP user, I’m ready to take it to the next level :)


16

+ mastorofpuppetz on February 20th, 2012 at 11:44 am said:

@15, don’t know why, but SONY gets a lot of biased hate. If the vita had an apple logo they would be praising it. Its got an amazing touch screen, lots of features, and is the best portable gaming device on the market. Ipod touch goes for 250, don’t tell me vita is expensive.

I guess Apple and Microsoft’s money pays for good press in the good ol usa.


17

+ mastorofpuppetz on February 20th, 2012 at 11:44 am said:

@14 yes, vita needs some big RPG’s, ala Bethesda, sony needs to really work hard to get big third party games on board, like GTA as well. If so Vita will take off.


18

+ ThreeLeggedFreak on February 20th, 2012 at 11:56 am said:

Playstation suite. What a joke. It was supposed to be out November 2011 lol


19

+ ThreeLeggedFreak on February 20th, 2012 at 12:07 pm said:

@17

Remember Elder Scroll Travels for PSP? That was a spin off of the Elder Scroll series from Bethesda themselves. Sony needs to convince them to revive that (and a Fallout game). Then talk to Take 2, thank them for Bioshock, but convince them to give us Civilization Revolution and Borderlands. Ring up R* and have them up port the GTA anniversary games (III, VC, SA) and the PSP games (LCS, VCS, CW) with trophy support. Have them make GTA SAS, RDR Stories, LANoire Stories, Max Payne Stories. Call EA and tell them you love them and have them do all their sports game cross playable with a discount code (50% off, 70% Plus users) that if you buy the PS3 version, you get the Vita downloadable version cheaper. Get Battlefield, ME and DS on the machine. Get Gabe and Valve to do L4D and Portal on it with Steam integration. Blizzard doing Diablo 3, Ubi = AC, all JP companies (MGS, MHP3G, DQX, FF games, Professor Layton, RE:Revelations Extreme Edition, etc), last, but not least, call CliffyB and tell him Gears is great and remind him Vita is a portable so MS won’t punish him too much and have him make Gears of War Exile on the device.

If that happened, Vita would be a big time winner. Chance of even 1/10 of it happening = 0%


20

+ FORMIK on February 20th, 2012 at 12:33 pm said:

Please consider the following multimedia apps for the Vita:

- Sony Reader app so I can read e-books
- Google+ app
- Digital Comic Reader app like what is on the PSP

Please also expand the PSN profile, both on the PS3 and the Vita


21

+ themattguillermo on February 20th, 2012 at 1:47 pm said:

The last paragraph was posted twice. ^_^


22

+ Adean12-PR on February 20th, 2012 at 1:52 pm said:

PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE

i have several questions about the ps vita:

1.is there or will there be an oovoo application for the psvita?
2.do i have to buy the ps vita memory card or can i use a micro sd card?
3.is the 3G card diferent from a phone 3G card?
4.what 2 or 3 games should i buy in launch day?
5.how much memory does a game card (for example uncharted) take?
6.can i put videos,music,pictures like in the psp?
7.how does the 3G work?

PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE I NEED TO KNOW


23

+ kdiep on February 20th, 2012 at 1:57 pm said:

When will the Playstation Suite be “launched”? I’m a student looking to develop games and I’ve been extremely interested creating something on Playstation Suite ever since it was announced but haven’t heard anything of it since the closed beta which I was unable to get an invite for.


24

+ criz_2001 on February 20th, 2012 at 1:58 pm said:

no fence but i talked to millions of pepole and said that sony is greedy.i relly dont agrre but pepole said u can buy a ps3 instead of a ps vita.good thing i have ps3 already
=)


25

+ criz_2001 on February 20th, 2012 at 2:00 pm said:

ps vita sell on japan is relly bad


26

+ Busca-Cabezas on February 20th, 2012 at 2:03 pm said:

3G seems to be lagging behind 4G. Could there be any chances of a 4G upgrade in the “near” future? Yeah,maybe too soon to ask? Well… How will the 3G work? 250mb seems too little for gaming. If I buy a $14.99 3G 250mb plan, what will happen after 250mb? Will I be hugemongously charged by AT&T after 250mb get quickly done?


27

+ mcbuttz78 on February 20th, 2012 at 2:23 pm said:

@25 the data is unlimted for 1 month meaning so surcharges if want to quit buying after 1 mth . then that ok.:) no charges bill to you in the future also 250 mb is just game save file not whole game save.. A game save file is only 5k or so.. Not much..

It can hold a few games files,

also 3 gis about standard right. they be moving to 4G dwn the road, it wont coast more becuase it the same service just a little faster by 5-6 seconds. I have 3 g phone and i get my messeges/calls faster than 4 g fones. lol…


28

+ mcbuttz78 on February 20th, 2012 at 2:27 pm said:

@ master of puppets i agree, i do think the perfect storm is coming for vita, in a good way


29

+ materclobber on February 20th, 2012 at 3:30 pm said:

one of many things sony lacks is communication. there are many easy questions in the comments i could even answer but as of “right now” there are no answers to these questions!!! i just wish one thing of this blog and it is communication with your consumers. you are losing loyal consumers every day just because of the lack of communication/info about simple stuff. its alright if you say you don’t know!!! just reply with some kind of answer if the question makes since.
thanks, i guess


30

+ WICKEDGHOST187 on February 20th, 2012 at 3:43 pm said:

Can we play the vita games on our PS3., abd wukk at&t have a plan that we can use all the data we can use.


31

+ WICKEDGHOST187 on February 20th, 2012 at 3:45 pm said:

Can we get free games for the vita if we have playstation plus


32

+ SuperVegito24 on February 20th, 2012 at 4:45 pm said:

i hope in the future, they would do a update for the vita that you can download and play original ps1 games from the vita and not using remote play…….


33

+ Elvick_ on February 20th, 2012 at 5:04 pm said:

I agree with the RPGs on PSVita. I’d love more JRPGs to be announced, especially new ones. So far the biggest ones are remasters or enhanced ports. Wild Arms please… speaking of RPGs, that’s where you guys are lacking in first party development. Otherwise you’ve got it all, but RPGs it’s just nothing.

I’d love for some WRPGs like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning as well, exclusive to PSVita.

I love my PSVita. :D Wish I could install Super Stardust Delta, *le sigh* fix it soon please.


34

+ Realsvi on February 20th, 2012 at 6:14 pm said:

Here is a question I have been mauling around for a while and so far I haven’t seen an answer to.

About games that are only released in Japan though PSN, will those games be available to NA or EU gamers though PSN though some import section on the PSN Store, or will the only way for us to play Japanese only games on PSN by making a separate Japanese PSN account?

I ask this because there still hasn’t been any word on localization of FF Type O and I really want to see that game over state side, lol. If not, then I was hoping to play it on the Vita, if possible that is.


35

+ PrinceSaiyan-PS- on February 20th, 2012 at 7:02 pm said:

Attention gamers: User “Sage_Minato89″ stole my account. Please be aware from that @#$%.
LONG LIVE PLAY!


36

+ mastorofpuppetz on February 20th, 2012 at 7:17 pm said:

@32, been saying it since ps3 launched, ps2 was popular because it has a slew of exclusive rpg’s and great third party support. Somewhere sony lost some of that, Sony’s rpg’s are non existent except cross platform rpg’s. RPG’s are more popular then ever with Skyrim selling better then every game except call of duty last year. Sony also needs a big third party exclusive.


37

+ zerokingx on February 20th, 2012 at 8:02 pm said:

@22
1.is there or will there be an oovoo application for the psvita? Not at launch, maybe in the future
2.do i have to buy the ps vita memory card or can i use a micro sd card? PS Vita specific only
3.is the 3G card diferent from a phone 3G card? It uses a Sim card.(so in essence no)
4.what 2 or 3 games should i buy in launch day?Depends on your taste( Racing games have Wipeout 2048 and Motorstorm RC, Action games have Ninja Gaiden, Uncharted, and Rayman, Quirky games have Tales from Space, Escape Plan, and SuperStarDust, Sports has Fifa and Hot Shots Golf.) The choice is yours. You have Unit 13 and Gravity Rush coming got soon after launch that are AMAZING.
5.how much memory does a game card (for example uncharted) take? Varies per game. Uncharted is 80mb for save from game card
6.can i put videos,music,pictures like in the psp? Yes via content manager on pc or ps3
7.how does the 3G work? Just like a cell phone. Once you activate it you have access to it. It is a month to month plan and if you go over they charge you another 14.99 for another 250mb.


38

+ zerokingx on February 20th, 2012 at 8:06 pm said:

@22
Sorry for the double post.
Any questions you have can be answered in the FAQ on the Vita in the blog. Search for it for any future questions and you can ask and get questions answered there.


39

+ ThanatosDMC on February 20th, 2012 at 9:51 pm said:

Can we have the ability to gift PSN games? You know, buy a game for a friend via PSN instead of sending them a PSN card because that takes forever.


40

+ LovesJapanManga on February 21st, 2012 at 3:50 am said:

“PSB: With that in mind, how will pricing react to the customer expectation that digital versions should be cheaper than physical copies?

AH: We are aiming to recognize that expectation and have a lower price point for downloadable versions of games; we will need to evaluate exactly what difference that will be.

We have fantastic relationships with retail partners who have a large stake in the success of PlayStation Vita and we want that to continue, but we recognize the need to have a lower price point for digital games taking into account that you don’t have packaging costs and other extra considerations associated with physical copies.”

What the… ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME?!?!? It should have been ten dollars less than retail price! Not at three, four or five dollars for God’s sake. Don’t let this up to the publishers so that way, they are the ones who will decide the pricing point for digital goodies. YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE TO MAKE THAT DECISION! But oh well, since after all, IT IS YOU SONY… “Shrugs”…


41

+ EggySong85 on February 21st, 2012 at 6:25 am said:

So here’s what I’m getting: The reason that the discounts on digital games are somewhat skimpy (probably reflecting merely the cost of packaging alone) and that the proprietary memory cards are so darned expensive are most likely to offset the advantage of digital distribution so that Sony can keep its retail partners happy and friendly?


42

+ oquardturtle on February 21st, 2012 at 5:38 pm said:

I think that the vita will need alot of rpg games. Elder Scrolls 5 would be amazing and if the grafics are all what they are hyped up to be than this system should have no problem running it. RPG’s are pretty much all i play and if they make them for Vita i am going to be a definate buyer.


43

+ gamegranma on February 24th, 2012 at 7:14 am said:

I have tried connecting my Vita to Skype and have not been able to. According to this article it was supposed to be available at launch (2/22/12). Wassup?


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