The PlayStation 3 isn't going away anytime soon. PlayStation VP of hardware marketing John Koller told GameSpot this week that Sony will continue to support the aging console until at least 2015, and possibly longer, provided the development scene continues to exist.
Elsewhere in the interview, Koller defended the new PS3 model's $270 price point--above the current $250 entry level unit--saying gamers have called for value, and claiming Sony is coming through with its new bundle.
He also took time to explain why Dust 514 is included in the bundle. He dodged a question regarding it being a test of the community's eagerness for free-to-play console games for this generation and the next, but said it will be "interesting to watch the adoption rate."
Koller also commented on leaked images of the new PS3 model spoiling Sony's formal announcement this week. He said leaks of this nature are not problematic for Sony (even though the same thing happened in 2009), adding that "people love talking."
The PlayStation 2 saw two redesigns. Now the PS3 is at three. Can you talk about why the increase over last gen?
There's not a particular reason of why there's one more. We look at opportunities to iterate and look at the demographics that are coming into the market. We see an opportunity right now, just with what's happening with other products and other technology items, that's more streamlined and efficient model that fits well in an entertainment center. So for us this was the right iteration. The other strategy is that…we look at the market over the past few years and saw a real rush of price points and gift cards and retail price promotions…and our consumers kept telling us "give us games, give us content." And so that's why you're seeing the Uncharted 3 250 GB bundle kick off.
"We have seen a very high interest rate from Xbox 360 consumers wanting to purchase a second console."
The new model is going for $270, and this is above the current $250 base model. We are presumably at the tail end of the PS3's life cycle, so why is the price for this entry level unit going up?
The consumers have said "give us value." And so it's a $70 consumer value when you get Uncharted 3 Game of the Year…and Dust 514 with $30 extra DLC coming in. Out of the box you get an immediate gaming experience. So we were answering the consumer call there. We feel very good about the position…and we feel the full-time bundle opportunity is the right path to take.
This new model is 25 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter. Is that correct?
Can you talk about power consumption? Is that less, too?
Power consumption is 190 watts. I think we're down a little bit. It's a more efficient unit. It has a different fan, which allowed us to shrink down the overall size of the shell.
Uncharted 3 is included in the bundle. Do you think though that there is a significant enough market that hasn't already purchased this game?
Yeah, absolutely. We're selling Uncharted 3 now with hardware. Most likely that consumer is not a PS3 owner yet. We have seen a very high interest rate from Xbox 360 consumers wanting to purchase a second console. We've held up Uncharted 3 as our flagship product over the last year and it's a good opportunity for those types of consumers to come over and own a second console in their household. We saw the same kind of thing happen in reverse during the PS2 years when a lot of PS2 consumers said they wanted to get an Xbox because of Halo and some other games. So we think the strategy works and it's a good one.
The other thing, when you look at Uncharted 3, yes, we have a very strong install base of Uncharted 3 players, but when you look at the broader PlayStation 3 base, there's still a lot who haven't played it. So even those PS3 owners who increasingly are saying they want to buy a second PS3, in all likelihood a lot of those consumers are probably going to get a game they haven't played. So we feel good. Even if they have played [Uncharted 3], they're getting Dust 514 with a lot of extra DLC.
Dust 514 certainly looks interesting. I've been tracking it. But it doesn't have the mass market appeal of something like Uncharted 3. Why did you choose to include [Dust 514] in the bundle over something else?
We wanted to provide some diversity. You have one frontline title [Uncharted 3] that clearly is one of the top games in the industry, and then you have one that is maybe a little different. It's free-to-play, and it'll be interesting to see adoption there. We received a lot of interest from our consumers about [Dust 514], so we know that there is going to be a fairly large base for it. It'll be a good model for us to see how those types of games do. Our theory is that it will do very well. We think over the next few years not only some of the frontline and new IP, but also the indie titles are set for a significant amount of growth, and we think Dust 514 is probably going to be one of those. And we thought including that would provide a really nice value, and we threw in the extra DLC to get that consumer jumpstarted.
Would you think of [Dust 514's inclusion in the bundle] as kind of a test in gamers' interest in a free- to-play console game? Those games are rumored to big in the next generation of games.
I wouldn't clarify it as a test. Although I would say that it is going to be interesting to watch the adoption rate. I won't say it's a test, because a lot of our research is pointing to Dust 514 is already set to become a big hit. It's not a test in that respect, but it's going to be interesting to see how well it performs on kind of a large level. And I think it'll do quite well.
Looking into this holiday season, Microsoft has a cheaper Xbox 360 available, and the Wii U has the buzz of a new console. Where does the new PS3 model fit in during the holiday season for Sony?
"The thing we like to communicate to our consumer base as well as to our future consumers is that you buy into the PlayStation ecosystem and you're buying into the best content in the industry. You're buying into the best place to play."
I think quite well. We are increasingly bullish on the PS3's prospects not only this year but over the next few years. I think when you look at the types of content coming to the PS3, the consumer coming in… through the 250GB Uncharted 3 bundle or…through the Assassins' Creed III 500GB model, they're getting unique content. That consumer that comes in through those avenues is going to be opened up to probably the most rich and deep gaming opportunities in the sector. When you look at what's coming to the PS3, not only this holiday, but what's coming next year…[there are] games like [Beyond: Two Souls], games like The Last of Us…a lot of third-party content coming, and a lot of first-party content that hasn't come out publicly.
A lot of great content is coming. And over the next 2-3 years, the PS3 has got an incredible lineup. That consumer coming in this fall is going to really have an opportunity to have great content and what we believe to be the best content in the industry. Yeah, we watch what the competitors do, but we don't make decisions based on what they do. We like our position.
You were just saying the PS3 has a life for the next 2-3 years. You're going to continue to support the PS3 for the next three years?
We're going to continue supporting the PS3 for the next few years. Absolutely. And we're going to continue supporting it not only that long, but as long as there is a development spigot that's running hot. And I can tell you right now, the development spigot for PS3 is very hot. A lot of great games coming. Same thing with PS2…it's kind of stuck around as that old warrior, many years after its launch. But there's still games launching for it.
What are Sony's goals for the holiday season with regards to hardware, including PS3 and PS Vita?
In general, on a qualitative approach, we are very excited about the holiday. We feel very confident about our position because of the content. When you look at the [PS3] games that are coming [they are] unique in many respects. But also with Vita, when you look at the dedicated games like [Assassin's Creed III:Liberation] or [Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified], or Need for Speed or FIFA. The games that are coming over the next few months are just fantastic. The thing we like to communicate to our consumer base as well as to our future consumers is that you buy into the PlayStation ecosystem and you're buying into the best content in the industry. You're buying into the best place to play.
The announcement of the new PS3 model last night at TGS was not exactly a surprise. And neither was the previous slimmed down version in 2009.
Can you talk about why or how Sony has struggled to keep its hardware revisions a secret. And is this a problem?
Not a problem. And I think there's different approaches to how you release information and content. In our case, we always prefer to have the opportunity to be able to speak to all of you and to our consumers in a general meeting place like a Tokyo Game Show or an E3 or a Gamescom. So we prefer that. But with the industry being what it is, there's always people that love talking to you and your colleagues in the media. And so we can't always control that. But in general, we do try to keep it to these large events and really be able to get our message out correctly. So no, not a problem, but maybe more of a sign of the industry and how people talk.