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47 Interviews

The PS4 Interview: Shuhei Yoshida

By Andy Robinson on Wednesday 12th Jun 2013 at 1:50 AM UTC

Sony's E3 2013 press conference revealed a bunch of new PlayStation 4 information including the price, the final look of the console and some of the games you can expect to play on it.

[ PS4: News | PS4 Games | All Videos | Gallery | PS4 Price | PS4 Specs | What's in the box ]

But it was the sensational confirmation of a $399 / £349 price point for PS4 - $100 cheaper than Xbox One - and a firm stance on allowing consumers to buy or sell pre-owned games that got the LA crowd on its feet.

Following the conference CVG was granted a rare one-on-one interview with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Computer Entertainment's President of Worldwide Studios. The affable exec is the man ultimately in charge of Sony's in-house development and increasingly, the public face of PlayStation via Twitter.

Zoom

In our interview Yoshida-san elaborated on Sony's pre-owned policy, explained the decision to move online play behind a pay wall and confirmed that long-missing The Last Guardian is indeed still in development.

Hit the link for a summary of every PS4 E3 2013 announcement.


The response to Sony's E3 press conference has been hugely positive. Do you also feel that you gave the best showing here?

Yes. We are so ecstatic with the reactions. Going in to the press conference we knew we had good messages for the audience, but we weren't expecting that strong a vibe in the room. Someone said to me that he was reminded of the 1995 E3 show when we first unveiled the PSOne to the US. Steve Race, the president of SCEA just came out and said "299" and the audience went nuts. I was there and that was a great moment. Yesterday was similar. So yeah, we are enjoying that moment.

It must have been great for you personally to have been on stage to deliver the message?

Yeah! I was totally excited and lots of people tweeted me to say that I looked so happy. I was happy there, but going in at the beginning of the planning of E3 I said, because it's in English, we have a great presenter who's the head of US development - he did the press conference last year - and he should do it. But people said, "this is the launch year of PS4 - people want to hear from you." Initially I was like "ah!" but in the end I felt great.

"I was totally excited and lots of people tweeted me to say that I looked so happy."

How important do you think the price advantage PS4 has over its rival is?

Now that we know there's an advantage, it's great to be in this position. If you remember six or seven years ago, how difficult it was for us to launch PS3 with price differentiation.

Were you surprised at how cheap you were able to price the console? It's less than PS3 launched at...

Designing PS4 was all about learning lessons from PS3; the system architecture, ease of development, network services... And the cost of the system is a big part of it. So we always wanted to hit $399 and we designed the system and carefully chose out of all the potential inclusions of the core hardware components and we made a system that we could sell for $399.

So we just did what we aimed to do and we were hoping that people would like it. But we were not totally expecting the external factors that kind of helped us do our business. In short, I was very surprised about the announcement yesterday by some other company... In a good way (laughs).

Why do you think the PS4 campaign has gone so well so far compared to PS3?

We have a great cross-functional international team, from game development, hardware development to marketing working as a team. That never happened before. Even the Vita was Japan driven in terms of planning and the launch event was in Tokyo, right? And up to PS3 was very, very Japan focused in terms of development, messaging and whatnot.

But with PS4 Andrew House is leading and he worked in the US and Europe, with experience managing the marketing and third-party relations groups, so he has all the contacts internally and externally. He was flying the flag and bringing in the right people from the international SCE group to form the one global team to come up with the messaging and preparations for the February event and the same team did this E3.

I think that has made a big difference in terms of being able to connect with our audience.

Zoom

You announced that PS4 will launch in North America and Europe this year, as opposed to Japan first. Does that also represent a shift in your global strategy?

Is that a good thing?

For us!

(Laughs) that's something that we really wanted to do. Europe is a hugely important market and we do hear on Twitter that lots of people are unhappy about, "why do the US consumers get this on PS Plus and not in Europe?" And things like that all the time. So it's all relative, right? They see the other territories all the time. Now it's even easier to see what's available in other territories because of the Internet services.

This E3 we confirmed that in the US and Europe, yes we will be launching this Holiday with the 399 price point. But it's not like we are not launching in other territories - we are waiting to get more information about manufacturing quantities and demand in each market so that we are able to decide where and when outside of the US and Europe.

So the other big announcement from your E3 meeting was PS4's pre-owned games policy...

Have you watched the YouTube video?

Yes - very funny.

That's got over 3 million views!

It must have felt really good to throw down the gauntlet like that?

Yeah, yeah! So we were waiting 2 days ago in rehearsal and all the video crew were there with their Macintosh computers to do the editing. We shot the video, the video guy added some music and Andrew House liked it so we decided to do this virally. So we timed it for just after Jack [Tretton] announced it.

There's been some clarification over your exact policy from Jack today. We understand that third party publishers can still opt to implement some kind of online restriction on pre-owned games?

What he talked about is with the offline portion there's no difference from PS3 in that every game is playable on PS4. In terms of just getting access of multiplayer online, it's now taken care of at a platform level by PS Plus. So our first party titles had the online pass on PS3 and Vita. That we are not doing on PS4 because of that platform level. It's the same for third parties; when it comes to just giving you access to online multiplayer, it's PS Plus going forward.

There are lots of different reasons. One is that publishers are providing the network services. The simplest example is an MMO; you have a huge community and your constantly adding content... It's an online service. It doesn't make sense that a disc gives you access to all of the online service forever, right?

Another example is games that have content DLC included in a season pass. Outside of just giving access to multiplayer, it's at publishers' discretion to come up with a new business model and offer to consumers.

But that's limited to just the online aspect?

Yes.

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