SANTA MONICA, Calif.--On Monday, in a preemptive E3 strike, Sony released a surprise announcement stating that the 60GB PlayStation 3 model would be getting a price cut, and that the new model, with a bigger, 80GB hard drive--previously confirmed only for South Korea--would also be coming to North American soil. European and Australian gamers were told on Thursday that there would be "an announcement related to SCEA's announcement," and the PAL regions held their collective breath for the next four days.
As promised, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO David Reeves took to the stage at a SCEE event in Venice Beach to reveal the company's localized plans for the European and Australasian regions. Many were expecting him to announce a price cut for Europe, too, along with a date for the introduction of the new 80GB model. Many, then, were surprised to hear the Sony executive state quite firmly that there would be no price cut for the region, and "in the foreseeable future" no 80GB machine, either. Instead, Europeans will be offered a new "Starter Pack" bundle, which will add an extra controller and two first-party games, Resistance: Fall of Man and MotorStorm.
GameSpot sat down with Reeves after his presentation to ask him about the reasoning behind the lack of a price cut for PAL territories, along with what would be revealed at Leipzig in August. The executive also revealed that the 60GB PlayStation 3 would be being phased out in North America.
GameSpot UK: How's it going for you this year at E3?
David Reeves: I came in this afternoon and I'm leaving tomorrow, so I'm probably not the right person to ask.
GS UK: So it's a flying visit for you?
DR: Yeah. We have none of our managing directors here. We're going to concentrate on showing everything at Leipzig.
GS UK: It did sound that way during your presentation. Do you think Leipzig will be replacing E3?
DR: Well, it won't be replacing E3, but it is something where, together with our game developers, we and they realize that there's E3, there's a European event called Leipzig, and there's the Tokyo Game Show. Developers can't spend the whole of their lives producing demos; they can do it for one of them. So, for example, you saw Killzone at E3, you'll probably see the same Killzone at Leipzig, but maybe by the time you get to the Tokyo Game Show, you'll see another Killzone. So they'll be different iterations, which is why it is important for Sony to have these three regions so that we can show, at least from a software point of view. What I was talking about with PSP there will be new services, and those services are European specific or Australian specific. So there's no point in showing them at E3 and talking about them, it's like talking about something like Freeview. So that is why we are going to talk about it in a European event.
GS UK: Sony last year seemed to have quite a lot of titles that were being developed by the European developers and exclusives for Europe--for example, Eye Toy and SingStar. There's not the same sort of presence this year in focusing on European-developed games.
DR: No, because I think that the games you're talking about--social games--they come midcycle, and I think they will come midcycle for the PlayStation 3. Also, they wouldn't have had the same success in the States as they had in Europe. SingStar is top of the charts in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Spain consistently, which is why it will get a more receptive audience if we show it in Europe. For the US, it's far better to show things like Killzone, or the next God of War or something like that.
GS UK: So, let's talk about the price drop of the PS3 in America and not in the UK. Many would ask, instead of the new bundle, why not just drop the price of the PS3 in the UK?
DR: Let's understand what the Americans have done. They're going to introduce an 80GB model at $599 with MotorStorm on August 1, and they've got stock in trade of the old model. They're just selling it off, they're not dropping the price. The price from August 1 is going to be $599 because all the 60GB models will have gone. They've got to find a way to get rid of the old stock, and that's what they're doing. We don't have that problem in Europe.
GS UK: But Europe is paying a higher price than the US already, before the price cut, if you convert it to dollars.
DR: It is. But so is a McDonald's hamburger. You can buy a hamburger here for $4.99, or for £4.99 in the UK. That's just how it is. The exchange rate is two-to-one at the moment, and a few years ago it was 1.41 against the dollar. So what do you do? The cost is the same in Europe, the cost is the same in the US. Also, the fact is that they always quote the price in Europe including VAT, and the US never include VAT in the price. So it's an unfair comparison. We really believe that what we're doing with the value in the summer, you don't drop the price in the summer. Unless you're a handheld.
GS UK: The PSP is getting a redesign. Many people would suggest that the way to improve the PSP would be to improve its software instead of a redesign of the hardware itself.
DR: Absolutely right.
GS UK: So is Sony still focusing on producing new content and new things on the software front?
DR: I hope so! I think what they're going to do is that there have been some games that have come out on the PlayStation Network, I don't want to call them minigames, but they come from really hot-shot developers, small studios, and they've been quite successful on the downloads and we're probably going to try and refocus some of those games onto PSP, because they are ones that people probably haven't seen. I think Nintendo has done superbly with what they've done on the DS, absolutely spot-on. I think we probably missed a trick with PSP with not having the original games. Maybe we've been taking it too high up with games that are PS2 look-alikes.
GS UK: Can you give us any examples of the downloadable games that you're talking about?
DR: Calling All Cars.
GS UK: So David Jaffe and the like, are they working on PSP titles at the moment?
DR: Well, they are, they are. Not David Jaffe himself, but that group, they produce some great online games, and I think we can also get those on to PSP as well.
GS UK: You said something really special would be coming for PS3 at this yea'rs Leipzig. Any more you can tell us about that?
GS UK: Is it going to be something on the software side? A download?
DR: None of those.
GS UK: OK. So peripheral-based, perhaps?
DR: Possibly. Possibly a peripheral.
GS UK: Thanks for your time.