D.I.C.E. 07: Phil Harrison speaks

President of Sony Worldwide Studios fields questions in Sin City; says European PS3s are already in transit; LocoRoco 2 and PS3 rubber-duck game revealed.

LAS VEGAS--With the PlayStation 3 supply now steady in North America and Japan and the console's European launch around the corner, people are pondering Sony's next move. Many speculated the electronics giant might tip its hand at the D.I.C.E. summit in Las Vegas. The annual event takes place each February at the sprawling Green Valley Ranch complex, and it draws a select group of elite game-industry glitterati together for an extended weekend of schmoozing and boozing.

Today, Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison sat in front of this high-powered crowd for an "informal" question-and-answer session with Newsweek games correspondent N'Gai Croal. GameSpot is on the scene with live updates of what the affable executive has to say.

10:29: Phil Harrison and N'Gai Croal have taken to the stage, and Croal is making a statement that his questions have not been preapproved by Sony. Harrison's stating that there are two topics that he can't cover--anything related to Sony's stock price and Phil's personal life.

10:31: Harrison is comparing part of Sony's process as an A&R-style process when they choose to work with external developers. They're looking for something exciting, something that has that creative spark, but something that also has commercial potential.

10:32: The next question is about how this relates to developing downloadable games for the PlayStation 3. This is where Sony is seeing some interesting innovation and some interesting risks.

SingStar for the PS3 will include some impressive online features.

10:34: Phil brought a PlayStation 3 with him, and he's threatening to play MotorStorm if the questions get boring. He's currently showing SingStar for the PS3. It will be out later this spring. As previously announced, the game will work online with the SingStore, an online mode where you can navigate through different album covers, view music video previews, and purchase content for use in the karaoke game. Video downloads appear to be around 38MB. The game will download songs in the background, which gets a cheer from the crowd.

10:36: SingStar will also have downloadable wallpapers for its menu screens and USB camera support. You can save those videos and upload those performances online. Other users will be able to rank your uploaded performance.

10:38: The next question is about the game's user interface. The game will offer various community elements. You'll be able to find users that like the same music as you via the "my SingStar" menus, which is meant to offer MySpace-like social networking within the context of the game. The next question is about the popularity of MySpace and whether that sort of functionality should be integrated on a game level or across the entire system. Harrison claims that we'll start to see more, deeper community functions in the PS3 XMB in the coming weeks and months.

10:41: Now we're moving on to developer support, with the question boiling down to "how does Sony intend to improve its developer support," with the sidecar of "Microsoft's is better." He says that the rumor of most of Sony's developer support coming in the Japanese language only is merely a myth, and that since most of the parts of the PS3 were developed in English-speaking countries, the developer support is primarily in English. He says that Sony has taken a lot of strides to improve, but that there's always more to do. Croal is looking for a specific example, and Harrison points to the nearly 40 games that are available and says that they're adding people internally, as well.

10:43: Now we're moving on to the difficulty involved in developing for the PS3 compared to the relative ease of the Xbox 360. Harrison is talking about how the PlayStation 2 was very difficult to develop for--actually, his word was "voodoo." He says that developing for the Cell chip in the PS3 strikes a good balance between an abstract, tools-driven development experience and that deep, "coding to the metal" path. And that it's a very different process than developing for the competing platforms.

10:47: Moving on, we're now talking about development-kit distribution. The question claims that PS3 dev kits were primarily sent to Japanese developers. Harrison basically says "Nuh-uh!" And that's that. He turns to someone from EA in the crowd and asks him to verify. The man in the crowd says that EA got their kits at the same time, but that they could always use more.

10:52: The next question is about how the PS3 hasn't matched Xbox Live's feature set for its online support. Harrison starts talking about how the PlayStation 3 is continually updated over time and that how the system looks today might not be how the system looks tomorrow.

"The day you buy [a PS3] is the start of a long-term relationship with that console that is going to evolve over time," explained Harrison.

He says that there will be forthcoming announcements regarding the future of the PS3's online features.

10:53: He's now talking up MotorStorm's 12-player online gameplay. So that makes the "how many times will he mention MotorStorm" count up to two. If you're playing the MotorStorm drinking game, drink!

10:54: Sony will be adding deeper online functionality for the PSP later this year.

10:55: Croal is mentioning Gabe Newell's interview in Game Informer, where he basically trashed the PS3. As he reads on, the crowd starts to chuckle. The eventual question is "why wasn't the launch delayed to fix many of the PS3's supply and lineup issues?" Harrison is turning it around a bit, asking "by what measure wasn't the PS3 a success?" He's talking about the huge lines for the console back at launch, the supply of consoles into the retail channel, and so on. He says that the launch was better stocked than both the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2 launches. He doesn't seem to see a problem with the launch, though he does say that they could always have done better. Also, PS3s for the European release are currently on a boat headed for Europe.

10:58: Croal's next question: "Why do you think that there's so much skepticism out there, considering people said many of these same things about Sony's previous launches?" Harrison feels that the launch issues on the previous platforms were quickly overcome and that he feels the same will be the case for the PS3. He then says "MotorStorm" one more time, for good measure. That's three drinks.

11:00: Concept approval at Sony is moving over to a worldwide process from a region-specific one and it will be rolled out shortly.

Harrison's duck fetish has reached new heights.

11:02: Turning it over to the audience for questions, the first is "What's Phil playing that isn't on a Sony platform?" He says he plays things for competitive analysis, but that the PS3 has enough for him. He mentions that he's been playing the next LocoRoco game, then he turns to a new PlayStation 3 downloadable game called Super Rub-O-Dub. It's the duck demo from E3 turned into an entire game. You play with the Sixaxis and tilt a pool of water to make a big duck move around, picking up little ducks and moving them to an exit. It will be out in the next few weeks.

11:05: The next question talks about XNA (without directly mentioning it) and how it puts some of the power of making games into the hands of average users. Is Sony considering a response? Phil says that Sony started that with the Net Yaroze on the PS, continued it with Linux on the PS2, and is now continuing it with Linux on the PS3. Sony will continue to support that kind of homebrew and organized development initiatives.

The follow-up asks the obvious question about the PSP's place in all this. Phil claims that the PSP isn't well suited for homebrew. Croal name drops Dark_Alex, the hacker that's been busting open the PSP's firmware lately and opening it up for homebrew. Harrison has a sort of cryptic response about future announcements.

Quack, quack, quack.

11:08: They're looking for more questions from the crowd and not finding a ton, so it looks like this will wrap up soon. The next question continues down the path of user-driven development, about Sony's willingness to provide development kits to dedicated independent developers. Harrison starts talking about Sony's support of various educational institutions and says that one of the graduates of these programs now works on Gran Turismo.

11:11: The next audience member says that Unreal Engine 3 is shooter oriented and nearly starts a brawl. Well, maybe not quite a brawl, but his question is more about Sony's tools and available middleware. Phil begins talking about Havok physics and how it helps development. Did you know that MotorStorm uses Havok? There's your fourth mention--DRINK!

11:13: That's the end, the duo shakes hands and makes their way off the stage, but not before getting Super Rub-O-Dub running again.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

Want the latest news about Super Rub a Dub?

Super Rub a Dub

Super Rub a Dub

Follow

Discussion

429 comments
kikook
kikook

For some reasosn people are loving it. But im staying away from it. Plus theres nothing wrong with a game made FOR KIDS

kalkhaja
kalkhaja

Harrison's duck fetish has reached new heights. i laughed my *** off when i saw that

reya10276
reya10276

Well most people are saying Sony is not innovative enough, have you guys seen HOME that new online virtual community, it looks good, I still don't know how they are going to pull it off and keep it FREE but I'll keep my eye on it. As for the duck game no one wants to pay 600 bucks for that, give these PS fanboys some real games $ony and better dev tools for the developers. Duck Game hah!!

PoopTete
PoopTete

a rubber duck game? AWESOME! ANOTHER GREAT MOVE BY SONY! AWL RIGHT!

dan_brouwer
dan_brouwer

I wonder how much the duck game will cost and how many people will actually buy it...

chamber303
chamber303

imortiferus You have no idea what you are talking about. :) understand computing. It helps. You have no idea the processing power of the cell chip . common dude get serious. OH Serious Sam would be nice on the PS3 don't you think?

ScottHFC
ScottHFC

to thKSMM: thankyou for not being a fannboy like everyone else who replys to this, you deserve an emblem! this should be an interesting console war, 360 or PS3 i dont care im getting both because i like the games thay have to offer, the only one that dosent appeal to me as a consumer is the Wii, not saying i hate it its just im not a big fan of any the games on that system. So stop moaning on which console is better and buy both! Even get a Wii if you want!!!

SeanBond
SeanBond

Since no one can agree on which architecture (PS3 or 360) is superior, can we at least agree that most developers say it's a wash?...Probably not, because in the case of a tie, the advantage goes to the less expensive system with more software to support it... ;)

markbart0305
markbart0305

Wow, I took the time to read this in like 2 minutes and found out nothing that I already didn't know. Congratulations Sony, you continue to unimpress me.

wildsnipe
wildsnipe

imotiferus: PS3 does not reserve three SPE's for OS. That would be stupid. It only needs one get your specs right. Also, i can guarantee every single one of you 360 fanboys declaring all these claims about how 360 has faster general purpose processing crap etc. read that article posted on the MS website. That's your only source of "Cell bashing material" which might I add is the most inaccurate excuse for a porcessor analysis I have ever read.

adam0812
adam0812

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

theKSMM
theKSMM

The PlayStation 3 has tremendous potential. It's capabilities will expand over time with additional firmware updates. That's never been the question. The question is whether it has more potential than the cheaper XBOX 360. I suppose only time will tell on that one. Good development tools in the hands of users would be a great thing IMHO, but Sony's software typically stinks. Microsoft, on the other hand, specializes in software and good development tools, and it shows on the XBOX 360.

samad5
samad5

red_fire4 wrote ''I'm an electrical, and electronic engineer, and i'm not able to see how do you see the Xbox is better. in tech.The PS3 is technically superior '' Well that settles the argument then in favour of the PS3 then, although proof will come once FEAR and Oblivion are out.

TimoTheThug
TimoTheThug

Don't know what it is about Phil but everytime he opens his mouths i want to hear every word he says. Everytime he brings news etc. If they would shut up Katuragi and only let Phil speak there wouldn't be so many reason for 360 fan boys to jump on the ps3.

razu_gamer
razu_gamer

Ye thats right...whats wrong with it?? I actually thought the rubber duck appearance in E3 2006 was cool and gave a sence of 'fun'.

wallaloo
wallaloo

whats wrong with a rubber duck game?? do you people automatically hate it because sony thought of it? i just dont get it, you guys need to chill out. if you hate the ps3 so much then shut up and ignore it.

snukadaman
snukadaman

lol agrownup...amen man...you can say your a genius but type a couple of words and the world knows your a fraud....the ps3 might be technically superior but when theres no graphical upgrade from the more costly console...why the hell buy it...lets wait this magical year when ps3 fanboys pray developers can squeeze a extra polygon out of ps3 versions of xbox 360 games....and the argument of xbox 360 owners "scared" of the true potential of the ps3 i say rubbish....you think the potential would shine when they launched the machine...but lets "wait this year"

marco_poalo
marco_poalo

the problem here is that three systems is too many. i hope a lot of you are old enough to remember the snes vs genesis battle. when a game came out for snes, there was a totally different version out for the genesis, ex. batman and robin. a fanboy's paradise. many games that are on 360 are on ps3 with little difference. 2 systems are ideal, and i hate to say it because i was a genesis fan, but nintendo has given consumers something different. a 360/Wii or ps3/wii combo would be ideal, but wii is still for children. so we have to rely on the exclusives. gears, halo3 and mgs4, gta4 make a 360/ps3 combo the best.

aGrownUp
aGrownUp

Wow we got all these electronic engineers talking complete and utter rubbish, no wonder the IT industry is in such a state, they'll employ any fool!

red_fire4
red_fire4

I'm an electrical, and electronic engineer, and i'm not able to see how do you see the Xbox is better. in tech.The PS3 is technically superior

imortiferus
imortiferus

Chamber, who cares that xbox1 was using off the shelf parts! The reality is the 360 is has 2 major advanteges in hardware alone over the PS3. Let's not forget about live. The PS3's only "next gen" advantage is a standard that sony is pushing in the consumer space and much like HD-DVD and UMD is bound to fail. The it becomes a liabilty to Sony, not an advantage. Who cares if you can get 50GB on a disc when it can transfer no more than 8MB off disc on a single read. The 360 older DVD9 drive can transfer twice as much at any given time. Checkamte!!! and good night!

imortiferus
imortiferus

The cell is great for streaming media and perhaps distributed computing (Think SETI). But it sucks for games. I find it funny that little people like you always use the "It's Server quality" analogy, Server software and game software are different worlds JACK! Cell is great for routers and switches... not games. Why do you think Apple passed on the Cell, Jobs saw the Cell as a ONE TRICK PONY.

chamber303
chamber303

back in 2000, the xbox was basically running on NVIDIA and Intel P3 it was better than the emotion engine. Leave that to Nintendo. There was a diffrence in processing speed.

imortiferus
imortiferus

While not a true DX10 part, the Xenos will reap the benefits of the next gen of windows games, since it has most of the core technology necessary to port them. Heck, I've been hearing a new subset of features based on DX10 will make its way to an upocoming update. The 360 doesnt need full fledged DX10, just the best parts of it, MS is looking to make this happen.

chamber303
chamber303

haha, your talkin Bulls$%t common man, total processing power in both cpu and gpu #'s are higher on 1 system. the architecture is unbeleivable, i've gotten my hands on IBM servers running on dual cell processors and there unreal.

imortiferus
imortiferus

"RSX : Multi-way programmable parallel floating point shader pipelines." IChamby, that simply t's a two way alleyway. heck , It's a narrow two way one at best. No traffic cop, nor real way of managing itself in an intellgent manner. The RSX is a rigid piepline with a limited number of shaders for vertex and pixel shaders. You cannot balace them, nor modify them. But you can on the 360. The Xenos GPU, well it's Unified shader architecture is a WHOLE different beast, fully programNomable pipeline with re-assignable shader duties.

chamber303
chamber303

imortiferus i have systems dating back in '86 and $ is not the issue. I buy tech for fun. And always love the best. Don't get me wrong, i've invested some on the 360.

chamber303
chamber303

And I'm a systems engineer and Administrator, but how do you see the superiority on the 360. facts do not agree.

imortiferus
imortiferus

I'm a systems engineer and programmer. THE fact is the x360 is more next gen than your outdated black box. MS understand the developers and proactively built a far more extendable suite of development tools. Get the specs? Been there boy, and I can make your head dizzy by detailing and quantifying the differences. The FACT IS the outdated, arcane and unstandardized architecture and tools Sony amassaed in the PS3 is one of the worst in the industry. Take the Sega Saturn and multiply it by 10, add "Blast Processing" to it and youll get the PS3. The seven little DSP's in the PS3 are not cores folks, they are not Power PC based and do not share anything in common with the Cell. This is part of the problem. Plus devs only have access to 4 since the OS reserves the other three for its exclusoive use. chamber303, the truth hurts, especially when you get conned for 600 bucks. But that was your choice.

chamber303
chamber303

RSX : Multi-way programmable parallel floating point shader pipelines. And let the CELL do it's work.

chamber303
chamber303

imortiferus were are you getting your info? try looking again. get the specs and do the math. but go to the real sources. not GS or IGN or whatever else there is.

chamber303
chamber303

IMORTIFERUS IS YOUR ICON from ninja gaiden?

imortiferus
imortiferus

What world is Phil living in? No PS3 launch issues? LOL, Ha, Ha, Ha... He spent most of it defending the platforms difficult programming nature. This was sad... A clear example that Sony is out of touch with both devs and users alike. chamber303 , the PS3's revolutionary? LOL!!! Tri-core power pc processor and a unified shader architecture based GPU in the X360, now that IS revolutionary. The single core Cell, the half as slow as DVD-ROM Blueray, and last years Nvidia chip in the PS3 a.ka. RSX... now that is just LAME!!! Please dont get me started on the 7 lame dsp's...

chamber303
chamber303

thekey are you sure it's not a revolutionary chip? it is, that is why the 360 is also using 2 of it's cores.(PowerPC) to my knowledge, the powerpc always outperformed the Intel,AMD.

chamber303
chamber303

hello people, how are you all today?

Hell-Fire21
Hell-Fire21

Oooo, rubbie duckies. Thanks Phil for the input and denial about the PS3's launch. Always gotta back up the company you work for even if you have to...be in denial. Lol I don't buy it when he says it was better (as far as stock in retail stores) for the PS and PS2 combined, I really don't buy that. I can't recall people shooting eachother over a PS2. Plus the damn thing was affordable so...no price jacking on E-bay. Anyway, he did tell us that if/when we invest (not purchase) a PS3, it'll be like getting married: long term relationships take a long time to evolve. Thanks for the boost of morale Phil. But if all goes well, we'll have a rubber duckie game. Oh joy.

DEEGREATONE1
DEEGREATONE1

first off i would like to state that i am a GAMER i dont have a favorite system nor am i a FAN BOY like most of the members on the site. I own all three systems the ps3 360 and the Wii, GAMESPOT is Anti Sony I am sure we all know that by now and can agree with little debate. But what I find really sad is how some "so called" Gamers really hate on sony, I find it Amazing that most chose to ignore all of the problems the 360 had at launch and focus the ps3 issues. i read some where that 9% of all 360 at launch had some problems, also what real good games were available at launch for the 360? ok i really dont wish to go on to long here but my point is both the 360 and PS3 have some problems but to bash one system because you like the other better is dumb P.S. i love my 360 and i am not a hater ............Like gamespot staff lol also www.IGN.com is a better gaming site lol

stevensk9d
stevensk9d

chamber303 , dont try to explane any thing to the haters on this forum. they will the light soon. the blu ray is for dvlpers who want to make awsome games. if the haters want to stay behine let them stay. i repect sony for tring to get us up to speed with tech, and not settling for have ass tech that needs upgades because all it focuses on is online,which isnt that good. the only reason ppl are on it is because they're pay'in for it.so, haters keep hating. p.s chamber303, just let them hate dont waste your time.

Tehnubbin
Tehnubbin

By the time the PS3 gets half of the ports from the 360 that some of these developers have promised Sony, the prices for the 360 versions will have dropped by $10 - $20 (Fight Night rd. 3 is $30 for the 360, and Saints Row is down to $40 where I live). To me, that's even more incentive to buy the cheaper 360 than the PS3...the software prices on the 360 are primed to drop, meanwhile the ports, which tout "new features"...not worthy features, just new ones...are releasing for $60. Paying less for a game that has the same meat and potatoes as the more expensive version sounds pretty good to me. Phil Harrison needs to get his head out of his ass and start doing something about that sinking ship he's on. Listen to your potential customers Sony...don't tell us what we want...let us tell you what we want.

daniel665
daniel665

who cares about singstar and rub a dub and to a lesser extent motor storm. i want games that make it worth jumping into the next gen. games that get me excited again like zelda,wii sports, gears and mass effect and i have to say at the moment sony is not delivering on the ps3 front.

anarchicgoth
anarchicgoth

i hate Phil Harrison- all talk and no play = "Super Rub-O-Dub?" Seriously!? Thats just Sony trying to be Nintendo- just like Loco Roco- but i hate that game!

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Can't stand Phil Harrison, he is such a buttmunch. My teenage brother asked our mother if he could have a PS3 this Christmas. She said yes. I then told her the price. She said no way. Does anyone see a repeat of this conversation in many homes this Christmas. The PS3 will never reach the mass market and non gamer. Without these consumers, SCE don't stand a chance.

epormada
epormada

rubber duck game? Are they serious? Quack, quack, quack... indeed!

thekey
thekey

chamber303 "thekey so are you saying that the ps3 is not worth buying." I'm NOT saying anything, other then fact. And the cell processor is NOT revolutionary either. Thats just sony talking.

tk1080
tk1080

@osxgp: i found your comments on the porn industry quite amusing :P but yeah, in my opinion, blue-ray will probably be the next mini-disc/UMD, sony tried to set them off and they both failed miserably; and if the PS3 Blue Ray player is anything like the PS2's DVD player, i would recommend staying away!

aGrownUp
aGrownUp

The first thing Sony need to do is reduce the price. I'd be interested in getting one eventually if any decent games become ps3 exclusives (never been a big fan of MGS, so it'll have to be something else), but i'm not going to pay that much for a games console, and sorry guys but just because it has blu-ray built in isnt effecting my judgement. And you can talk specs until your blue in the face for all I care, i dont want potential etc i want results, and i want them now, or i'll keep my hard earned cash and spend it on reality, not promises!