Last month we were fortunate enough to travel to Tokyo for the launch of the PlayStation Vita.
There, we were granted a rare one-on-one interview with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Computer Entertainment's President of Worldwide Studios. That is, the man ultimately in charge of Sony's in-house development.
In our chat Yoshida spoke frankly about how Sony has changed its development processes to ensure a steady supply of games for PS Vita, hinted at as yet unseen elements of the Vita's Cross-play and Augmented Reality features, and discussed how the software teams got involved in its design.
For more on Sony's impressive handheld, read our PS Vita review.
24 games at launch addresses one criticism levelled at the 3DS. How did you set about making sure there will be plenty of games for PS Vita?
I'm not responsible for third-party relations, although I did participate in evangelising meetings regarding the PS Vita's features, and showing off games like Uncharted and Little Deviants to third-party developers to give them some ideas and inspirations. But I had no idea there were so many games targeted by third parties. Up until a couple of days before TGS, I was working on the draft of my presentation, and talking about six or seven titles. Then I looked and said: "What? Are you sure that's for the launch, rather than the launch window?"
As far as first-party is concerned, we have many games in the pipeline. We are strategically spreading them out so that there will be a constant supply of our games, because we don't have control over when third party titles are released - sometimes we have to fill in the gaps with our titles.
For you, which are the key PS Vita titles?
Uncharted, which shows off the capabilities of the system. And for the Japanese launch, Everybody's Golf is really key.
Do you know whether there will be 24 games at launch in Europe?
Potentially more, because those 24 games are already done for the Japanese launch. Obviously, some of them are meant for the Japanese market, like the anime-style games, so I don't think all of them will go over to the US and European launches. But there are US and European third-party titles targeted for those launches, so I would expect at least the same number of games. I'm very excited about FIFA, for example - it looks very pretty.
[Here, Yoshida showed a demo of what he termed Markerless AR - simply by pointing the PS Vita's camera at the packaging of Hot Shots Golf (what Everybody's Golf is known as in Japan), he persuaded a typically cartoonish golfing character from the game to appear.]
Can you talk us through the PS3 Cross-play feature, and which games support it?
There are many different styles of connectivity. With WipEout 2048, for example, you have real-time network play: that's one example of Cross-play. With LittleBigPlanet, they have a slightly more involved style of connectivity. It's still in development and hasn't necessarily been publicised, but what we are talking about is that any character or item that you have on PS3, you can download and use on the PS Vita version.
There's more in development, but you'll have to wait a bit before we show it. One of the tech-demos that we showed at TGS was using PS Vita as a controller for PS3, and we used LittleBigPlanet as an example. So that kind of thing is very exciting.
That sounds quite similar to what the Wii U does?
[Laughs] When Nintendo announced Wii U, we were kind of surprised, because we've been doing that sort of similar tech using PS3 and PSP. You know about Remote Play? So we can render PS3 images through a network to PSP. I understand that Wii U works similarly - the console renders images to the portable.
So it was very natural for us to extend it and enhance it for PS Vita, because PS Vita has a much better screen, is more powerful and the connectivity speed is much better than PSP. This is something we'd like to maintain for the future. There are so many things that PS Vita can do, but let's not try to cram everything into the launch period.