April 26, 2005
Now that the dust has settled and Sony's first portable has been on the market for just over a month, we spoke with SCEA Senior PR Manager Patrick Seybold to get Sony's take on the success of the launch, the company's vision for portable entertainment, PSP design issues, developer reaction, and where the PSP business might be headed.
GameDAILY BIZ: About 600,000 PSPs were sold during week one in North America. Did the launch meet your expectations or were you expecting better numbers?
Patrick Seybold: The launch of PSP was everything we hoped for, with extraordinary consumer demand driving sales of hardware units alone upward of $150 million in first week sales, far and away above those generated by any other product in the space. It is a very exciting time for the industry, and we are glad to again be at the forefront of new technology and forms of entertainment.
BIZ: Sony seems to be pushing the multimedia aspect of the PSP quite a bit. How important will music, movies, photo viewing, etc be to the success of the portable?
PS: PSP represents the breadth of Sony's capabilities across the entertainment spectrum, and we have received support and enthusiasm from various content publishers for the PSP. As with any platform, content is going to be a driving factor for whether or not people adopt that system, and with 24 launch titles for games, and multiple UMD movie releases this month and next, we are confident that consumers will continue to snatch up PSPs as they become available.
BIZ: Prior to launch Sony held a PSP-related fashion show. Can you address the style factor of the PSP--do you think it will reach the level of Apple's iPod as a status symbol in the mind of the consumer?
PS: Sony has a tradition of creating fashionable electronics and the form factor of PSP definitely falls in this category. PSP was designed with form and function in mind and gauging from consumer/public response we have delivered on a product that is a blend of technology, fashion and fun - it's an object of desire by itself.
BIZ: How has the response been from developers so far? Is the PSP easy to develop for?
PS: PSP has unprecedented support from developers. Developers have expressed their enthusiasm for developing for PSP, not only as it provides a new medium and opportunity for extending their content to a new market, but they have raved about the size of the screen and power of the PSP. The developing community has also embraced the wireless functionality of PSP, and the opportunities that it provides for new types of gameplay and entertainment experiences.
BIZ: A few developers have said that they would love for the PSP to have a second analog stick, faster UMD data transfer rates, or even a built-in hard drive. Were these things ever considered during the design process?
PS: PSP was designed for a console quality gaming experience in a portable product. Both UMD and Memory stick are great formats for a portable device in that they are lightweight and smaller than other media formats (CD and DVD). Many of the PS2 controller's features are incorporated in PSP, but this is a portable entertainment device and not simply a PlayStation 2 controller.
BIZ: Nintendo has been the leader in the handheld market for a very long time. How do you view Nintendo's time tested approach to this market versus your own?
PS: With PSP, we are not competing with any product out on the market. We are creating a new market for portable entertainment, and in doing so, reaching a whole new audience. PSP delivers on the promise of entertainment convergence, with movie, game, music and photo functionality in one device.
BIZ: Do you think Nintendo might feel forced to bring out a more technologically advanced Game Boy sooner to counter the PSP if it continues to sell well?
PS: Our focus is on our own business and strategy and continuing to drive the industry forward by producing great products. PSP is one of those products that will define a new era, and in doing so, create a new audience for portable entertainment.
BIZ: After the initial launch lineup the PSP's release calendar seems a little sparse. Can you fill us in on what we can look forward to as 2005 progresses?
PS: With the PSP we have many game titles releasing throughout the year to keep our PSP owners entertained. We will have announcements about future PSP titles at E3.
BIZ: Online gaming on the PSP could be very popular but thus far in the games that support it, the connections have been spotty and the matchmaking and other feature sets have been very limited. Is Sony going to beef up the online aspects of the PSP?
PS: PSP shipped with 24 launch titles, more than triple the competition - and 23 additional titles are in development in North America and more than 100 worldwide. Many of these titles feature online support from the first and third party development teams. As noted above, the development and publishing communities have been very excited about the possibilities that the wireless functionality bring to PSP, and will continue to develop for it and support those aspects of their games.
BIZ: Clever PSP owners have figured out how to use Wipeout Pure as a web browser, but does Sony currently have any plans to offer its own web browser or other software to give the PSP even more functionality?
PS: Wireless capabilities lend a lot of great functionality to PSP. No plans to offer a web browser have been announced.
BIZ: What in the way of connectivity with the PS2 does Sony have planned for PSP?
PS: The possibility for interconnectivity of PS2 and PSP titles does exist. No announcements about any products that will support this feature have been announced at this time.
BIZ: Looking at the overall PSP business, where do you envision the platform to be in 5-10 years?
PS: We have spent the last ten years as leaders in this industry, and take that responsibility very seriously. We are building the bridge toward the next ten years of entertainment. With PSP, we have delivered on the portable entertainment promise for today's consumer, by giving them everything they need in one sleek, sexy device. As we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of PlayStation and the 5th anniversary of PS2 this year, we will continue to deliver to our consumers the entertainment they demand in the PlayStation tradition of innovation and leadership, and PSP will be an instrumental piece of the next decade of entertainment.
For more information: http://biz.gamedaily.com /features.asp?article_id=9490&filter=interview