Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton is not so enamored with free-to-play and social gaming. Tretton spoke to GamesIndustry International about why he thinks many companies overestimate the trend toward free-to-play models and social connectivity, and why the PlayStation Vita's sales have been "acceptable" so far and will pay off in coming years.
"[Free-to-play and social] is a business I think a lot of companies are learning is difficult to sustain for the long term," Tretton said. "It's an adjunct or it's an add-on, but it's not where gaming is headed. It's an additive diversion. There's a place for social and freemium, but it's not going to replace the business models that are out there." Tretton's free-to-play doubt goes against sentiments from several other game industry executives, including higher-ups at Electronic Arts.
Despite worries that smartphones and tablets could soon replace dedicated gaming hardware, Tretton said "the opportunity to be in the console business is greater than ever before." Sony expects the Vita to sell 10 million units in its current fiscal year, mostly owing to a holiday lineup boasting titles like Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified.
Selling hardware is always a long game, one which Tretton said he is confident will pay off for the Vita. "We felt if the tech was there, and the game support was there, then the audience would be there … I feel much better about it now than I did four months ago."