SCEA's Koller sizes up PS3 Slim, PSP Minis

Director of hardware marketing sheds light on Sony's new console's $299 price, 45nm cell chip, PSP Go launch preparations, and how dual iPhone/PSP game development is "hypothetically" possible.

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Sony's new weapon, the PS3 Slim.

Yesterday, Sony shook up the console wars by announcing a cheaper, slimmer PlayStation 3 at the GamesCom expo in Cologne, Germany. Now costing just $299 (US), €299 (EU), and £249 (UK), the 120GB machine is cheaper than the 120GB Xbox 360 Elite, which did not--as many expected--see its $399 price slashed at Microsoft's GamesCom event. (Instead, the big announcement was for Fable III's 2010 launch.)

The PS3 Slim announcement is the culmination of several months of Sony initiatives, which also include the announcement of and preparations for the October 1 launch of the 16GB PSP Go. That date will also see the long-awaited release of Gran Turismo for the PSP and the debut of PSP Minis, a new online store offering "snackable" casual and arcade titles for a low price.

John Koller, SCEA's top console pitchman

Leading Sony's push to reinvigorate its flagging hardware sales is John Koller, the director of hardware marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America. The youthful executive was the company's point man during April's $99 PlayStation 2 price drop, when he also revealed the first hints of Sony's big PSP push for the year. Koller also starred in the PSP Go's video introduction, which leaked just before the handheld's official unveiling at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.

With the reverberations of the PS3 Slim still ringing in the industry's ears, GameSpot spoke with Koller about the major--though not exactly shocking--announcement and how the PSP Go launch is shaping up.

ENTER THE PS3 SLIM

GameSpot: What has allowed you to drop the price right now?

John Koller: That's a good question. We have really modeled this since we launched the PlayStation 3. We've been working behind the scenes to make sure we present the right price point and the right model at the right time to the right consumer. And this is the right time to do it. We look at the consumer who is likely to purchase this holiday--one who's a little more price-sensitive. That consumer is now in line for a much more accessible price. For holiday-friendly, gift-giver consumers, that's much more in their wheelhouse. So when you look at the total amount of content, it's the best lineup we've ever had on the PlayStation 3. There's Uncharted 2 and God of War III, and you've got the third parties with things like Assassin's Creed II. When you marry that with the Blu-ray launches from our [Sony movie] studio partners, this really was the time.

The "PS3 Fat" and its slimmer sibling.

GS: Now a few weeks back, Sony Corp. CFO Nobuyuki Oneda said you have reduced PS3 manufacturing costs by 70 percent. Apply that figure to estimates from manufacturing research firm iSuppli, and the production price of the PS3 is just $252. That begs the question--is the PS3 profitable, in terms of hardware now?

JK: Well, we aren't giving any figures on that just yet. I can tell you that the model we've announced is more cost-efficient. That's been a directive from Sony Corp.

GS: I can imagine. So is the sales target for Sony's fiscal year ending March 31, 2010 still 13 million, as was announced during Sony's last financial report?

JK: Yes. That estimate was made with the full knowledge the PS3 would see a price drop.

GS: Now during the GameCom press briefing, [Sony Computer Entertainment CEO] Kaz Hirai said that the PS3 Slim will have all the same features as the "PSP Fat," for lack of a better term. Is that the case?

JK: Well, there are a few changes, but the feature set is the same. The changes are more internal, and from an internal standpoint, there are three big changes. The cell chip [manufacturing process] has decreased from a 65nm to 45nm. There's a new cooling system, and there's a new power supply that uses one-third less power.

How the PS3 Slim stacks up against other consoles.

GS: Does it still have the hard drive bay, which lets you switch out the hard drive?

JK: That's absolutely still a big part of it, and we actively encourage consumers to do that. If they want to upgrade, it does not void their warranty. But the bay has moved from the side to the front, so it's under the disc loader now. It's still a simple two-screw process to take it out; it's easy to put a 1TB hard drive in there in place of the 120GB drive.

GS: So now, with the 120GB hard drive and $299 price point, you guys are going head-to-head with Microsoft, even if it cuts the Xbox 360 Elite to $299.

JK: Exactly, exactly. If you look at the value proposition of the PS3, we feel really good about our position. If you look at the Blu-ray, the built-in Wi-Fi, the content, you can stack it up and the $299 price point is a really big thing for us. I also think it's a really big thing for consumers, when they ask themselves, "Should I get a PS3, should I get a 360, or should I get a Wii?"

GS: How long do you expect the stocks of current 80GB PS3s to stick around, given that a newer form factor with 40GB more hard drive space is just two weeks away? Do you expect them to be gone when September 1st rolls around?

The now-$399 160GB PS3 bundle is an endangered species.

JK: I expect them to be mostly cleared out. We've very successfully presented a clean landing for the 120GB SKU. The 80GB is on its last inventory run right now, and the 160GB Uncharted bundle was, by definition, a limited edition, so that will be gone very shortly as well.

GS: And when does the PS3 3.0 firmware update go live?

JK: Shortly. Very, very shortly. We haven't announced a date, but it's imminent. The big news on that is the "What's New" page. It's basically a welcome board for the consumer coming in. It's a place for us to promote our products and partnerships. It's a lot easier to access.

For a full rundown of the PS3 firmware update, watch this video presentation by Eric Lempel, the director of PlayStation Network operations

COUNTDOWN TO THE PSP GO LAUNCH

GS: Now I have some PSP questions. There's a little bit of confusion going on from the press conference, where it was announced that the PSP version of Gran Turismo will be free if you register it between October 1 and October 10. It was also announced there that anyone preordering Gran Turismo 5 would be able to download Gran Turismo for the PSP. Is that accurate?

JK: No, it's not. That's a special promotion for European territories. In North America, we have the core PSP Go unit launching without Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo will be a stand-alone sale.

GS: And the Gran Turismo 5 deal?

JK: Again, that's a European initiative. That's not happening in North America.

Gran Turismo will still look slick on the PSP.

GS: OK. Now let's look ahead to the PSP Go launch. Let's say I am a current PSP owner who wants to upgrade to the PSP Go, but I own a ton of games on UMD I can't use with the new model. Sony has said it is going to offer digital versions of UMD games in current PSP owners' libraries. How is that going to work?

JK: We're still looking at options in that regard. We haven't announced anything. We do see, obviously, the value that our legacy consumers bring to the table, but we haven't put a public plan in place for viewing yet. So, more to come on that.

GS: Well, will every single PSP game be available for download at launch then?

JK: We're currently working with all developers and publishers on this, and it looks like it will be a substantial amount. We can't say "all" because there are legal restrictions in converting some titles to digital, but on the whole, we expect a substantial amount. I think what consumers can expect is to go onto the PSP store and see a large amount of previously released UMD content and see day-and-date releases of new games.

What will UMD collectors do if they want a PSP Go? Sony's not sure yet.

You then marry that to the PSP Minis, and you're looking at a really tremendous lineup for the PSP. You know in the past, we've heard that there are not enough PSP games and we should open up development. The Minis program opens up development to a wide range that would be available to the PS3 consumer previously, and I only think the consumer can benefit from that.

GS: Well, I guess the obvious comparison to the PSP Minis is the iPod's App Store...

JK: Well, it's definitely not an App Store. We won't have "Dude, where's my car?" apps. It's all definitely game-related. It taps out at 100MB. What we're trying to do is have a selection of much more snack-sized, small games to go with the larger and UMD-based games.

GS: Right. I know that Electronic Arts has already announced a PSP Mini version of Tetris. When does the PSP Mini store go live?

Sony and EA want PSP owners to "snack" on Tetris.

JK: It will be launching October 1. And although we've only talked about EA publicly, there are a lot of partners who are very excited about this. And while we're definitely not encouraging iPhone ports, there are some developers who could hypothetically say, "You know what, I've got a game franchise I'd like to see on both." If it's a small, snack-sized game, you could hypothetically see them on both.

GS: I was thinking more along the lines of arcade titles like Galaga...

JK: Absolutely. Those are all possibilities.

Discussion

143 comments
Mike0193
Mike0193

I find that the new ps3 slim looks really great. it looks way more casual and cute...no homo yo. The 300$ price tag is definately awesome aswell !

Mike0193
Mike0193

No...everything that u are able to download ontop the psp GO u can download, on the other psp's !

jazer_30
jazer_30

waiit these minis are only for the PSPgo riiite??...........if so igot something to rub in my friends faces!!!!

Hyde1winterfall
Hyde1winterfall

so.... these snack sized games are going to be for the psp go? thats not good... im at least looking for a remake of another old star ocean or something to do with rpgs..... and kingdom hearts thats a definite decision maker... if thats not on psp go i will tell you where my money is not going to "go" (s'cuse the bad pun im sorry)

Indiscrimi
Indiscrimi

The new PS3 Slim makes it very difficult to be faithful to Microsoft.

thekey
thekey

PSN is right up to par with XBL.

s0l1dsnake007
s0l1dsnake007

I really hope the firmware after 3.0 makes drastic improvements to PSN and gets it on par with XboxLive. The fact that they haven't done it already is inexcusable.

cspring
cspring

The slimmer PS3 looks good but there is no way im buying a PSP Go. PSP 3000 is much better

DeathNoteL
DeathNoteL

wow this is great that sony is making the ps3 slim!!!! :)

Whitsel
Whitsel

Sony keeps making on and off good/bad decisions with the PS3 and (mostly) bad decisions with the PSP models(where the fudge is a 2nd analog stick by now!!!???). I guess they really are as stupid as MS :P

geomyr
geomyr

finally sony come up with a slim version of the ps3 like they did on the ps2 and it is way cheaper than the first version now i can finally afford to buy the ps3 and it is worth of my salary :)

HeadshotAce
HeadshotAce

I agree the matte finish makes the slim look cheap. The shiny finish made the original PS3 look sexy and it cost Sony more to make it with this finish. Yes they have saved some costs but not worth it in my eyes. Sorry but it's true!

gnrlstuart
gnrlstuart

sorry, looks dont appeal to me, neither does paying $100 more for a console. but while the ps3 is good value on paper, for alot of hardcore gamers, poor headset support, overall less engaging online than ''other'' networks keep me and friends from getting a ps3. sure xbox 360 is an ugly beige peice of junk. but at $250, party chat, inside xbox, great headset support, plus loads of other neat features on live, pand the complete integration of live across all games. is alot for important than for gamers. its too bad because there are some killer titles like MAG and uncharted 2 which could really benefit from those sort of features.

Ardiendo_1
Ardiendo_1

Perhaps I'm wrong but I assume most people use their console with it in a horizontal position meaning, despite the fact that the new console is slimmer, this would save no space at all and therefore is a complete waste of time. I'm gonna take a random stab in the dark here and guess the production costs in making the slim are radically cheaper than the 'fat' and that releasing a new SKU which can be marketed as being spacially more economical makes more business sense for Sony than saying they'll be making the PS3 with cheaper parts in the future. Oh well at least it's cheaper which will get more people playing (I actually own a PS3 so consider this a good thing in that sense). I only hope it isn't marred by a high attrition rate.

MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

the new ps3 slim is the most cheap a55 looking piece of plastic i have ever seen. i would felt great shame to have it for a blu ray player when i have people around.

BarricadeS281E
BarricadeS281E

C'mon, don't give me a thumbs up with no answer....seriously, does anyone with a PSP-3000 have dust under the screen issues. I love my PSP-2000, but repairing and cleaning it reguarly has gotten to be a real chore. New faceplate, dust under screen, cracks in faceplate, replacing headphone jack, and now after so much time with it, my UMD drive just broke (the motor stops whirring a few seconds after sticking the UMD in and later it tells me "Disc can't be read" or something). So I just want to upgrade to either the 3000 or the Go, and if getting the Go means no dust, then I'd do it - seriously. So I just want the above info on the 3000.

Retro_Matt
Retro_Matt

PS3 slim? The main difference is the new hard drive which you should swap out anyway. The casing looks alot worse now that its not shiny and the new logo, whats up with that?

Retro_Matt
Retro_Matt

I hate Sony, they don't care about the people that already own their products, they just throw new models out all the time, especially the PSP, whats next PSP Go 2000??

spyroiskool
spyroiskool

Is the emotion engine going to be included in the PS3?

BarricadeS281E
BarricadeS281E

To anyone who has a PSP-3000: do you still get dust under the screen (between faceplate & LCD)??

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

@jones_kyle: I am no fanboy, but I've had enough of Sony's general disregardful for PS3 consumers.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

Drats! I wish I would have waited to buy my PS3. This slim one would look so much sexier under my tv. Maybe I can give my PS3 to my kids, that why my wife will let me get a PS3 slim............fingers crossed.

DragonicB
DragonicB

Definitely, A PS3 for me in the next few months ... No PSP go Still confused between the fat and slim =S

jones_kyle
jones_kyle

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

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

@ mrfezz: There he said it. The one criticism, besides potential overheating issues, I can sink my teeth into. -The PS3 slim IS hideously ugly. And PS3 already was "the ugly system."

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

Sony is powerfully jealous of the success of i-Phone apps. If only they had made the PSP a cell phone too.

Linkman0714
Linkman0714

i own an 80 gig "ps3 fat" and i love it. im not gonna dis on the new slim ps3 like other people who seem to have nothing to do but complain. if something happens to my ps3 fat ill def buy a ps3 slim right away

melty3219
melty3219

sigh everyone begged sony for a price drop and it has finally happened and now everyone complains about the looks... the PS3 slim may not look as good as the fat but that is becuase they are cutting corners to lower the production cost (touch pad buttons cost more than a standard spress button) which ultimatly goes to a cheaper price tag... so quit complaining and live with it for $300 it is still a bargin

Titans747
Titans747

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

Depresso
Depresso

I owe every other console out there and I have been waiting for the PS3 to drop its price and size. Both reduction in my view are small but I now know there won't be another one for a while so I will purchase one soon. I do not care about collecting Blue Rays as I have hundred of great DVDs which are far cheaper. Games allegedely using the blue ray space I am not familiar, maybe some exclusives, the only possibility really. Being a great fan of Farenheight I do look forward to Heavy Rain though, the real system seller for me. At the end of last cycle I used to owe a PS2 and was getting tired of sequels, one of the reasons I jumped ship to the 360. Wii is fan just for a while, afterwards gathers dust in my shelf.

anarchist4eva
anarchist4eva

Well at least this guy doesn't have the inflated ego of guys like J. Allard, Robbie Bach, Don Mattick... or Steve Ballmer! He's still a marketing exec, but he's not saying that Sony will change the world with this new _____________....

fauljosh
fauljosh

Lower the PSP Go price to 179 and I'll buy it.

mrfezz
mrfezz

It might be cheap, but it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. I am very disappointed.

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@X_CAPCOM_X The price, taken by itself, is a steal. Almost every video game console is. The PS3 for $400? Intellectually, that's a bargain. Unfortunately, the market isn't about fairness, but what people will pay. Your average shopper neither knows nor cares what the manufacturing cost of a PS3 is; all they know is that the PS2 cost $200, so why is this one so expensive? It must be a rip-off, right? All the extra features are great, but aiming the PSP at an upscale adult market is a mistake. I have one, but it's because I'm a gamer. My wife wouldn't go near one, for example. She'll buy a BlackBerry or ITouch because it doesn't have the taint of video gaming on it. (They HAVE video games on them, but they're not video game machines. Trust me, there's a distinction when it comes to style.) Portable gaming should always hit the big three: affordable, durable, and tons of games.

KingDustero
KingDustero

@AncientDozer You do know that Bluray is one of the things that makes the PS3 so much better? It isn't just for watching movies. ALL games on the PS3 are bluray. That means they can be bigger and look better then 360 games. Sony will NEVER take bluray out. If they did they couldn't make games for all PS3s anymore. Also wireless is a big selling point for the PS3. I have mine hooked up to the HDTV in the living room because it is wireless. The Elite is on an 12 year old SDTV in a bedroom because I'm not giving M$ $100 for a wireless adapter that I hear works like crap. The major differences about the slim isn't it's size, but what is inside. It has smaller chips that don't produce as much heat, has a better cooling system, and uses less power. Also Sony doesn't call it the PS3 slim. It is a slimmer or smaller version of the PS3. It isn't as big of a difference in size like the PS2 slim was, but it is still smaller.

Kougeru
Kougeru

I agree with Rottenwood. By this point though...a psp can't cost over 100 dollars to make..especially if the ps3 only cost's about 250.....though the same goes for DS....they both probably cost about 50 dollars or less to make, and IMO..at most should cost 80-100 dollars.

TTDog
TTDog

@TripSe7en: They need to focus more on games again... not how the console looks, not releasing a new model with a different hard drive size every 6 months (moronic when you think they made a big deal about how easy it was to upgrade that yourself), not messing around with rip off motion controllers and crap like HOME... they won the last two generations because the PS1 and PS2 had some of the best games around.... not because they kept changing the make up of the machine all the bleeding time.

X_CAPCOM_X
X_CAPCOM_X

@rottenwood: Really? A $250-$300 portable game/video/mp3/internet device is overpriced? What about Ipods? Cell phones? It's expensive, but not outrageous.

X_CAPCOM_X
X_CAPCOM_X

@rottenwood: Really? A $250-$300 portable game/video/mp3/internet device is overpriced? What about Ipods? Cell phones? It's expensive, but not outrageous.

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@synthetiksin Nobody's arguing that the PSP is a much more expensive device to manufacture. The mistake lies in making a $250-300 portable system to begin with. Expensive is okay for something that sits nestled next to your T.V., but a little portable you jam in your pocket and play on the bus? People want affordable and durable. Who in their right mind would buy a PSP for a kid? That screen is gonna get busted in within a month. Give that brat a nice, cheap DS that you can punt across Michigan without hurting it.

TripSe7en
TripSe7en

@TTDog : Well Put. But I'd still love to see Sony make a comeback, they do have, for the first time since the PS2, an impressive lineup of exclusives; Heavy Rain, Uncharted 2, GOW3, and GT5. Its a shame it took them this long to pump out some connsecutive hits though...

TTDog
TTDog

The new, fugly, PS3 won't make a massive impact on sale... looks shouldn't even come into the equation when buying a console... it's the games that sell the machine, not the way the machine looks next to your TV or sofa.

TripSe7en
TripSe7en

@ Synthetiksin : That is your fault for spending $3000 for 4 iPhones... That does not justify that the PSPGo is overpriced, and with no UMD, there is no allure to draw in those who already have PSP's. Just poor planning on Sony's part. Maybe if it had two thumbsticks... then you could at least play FPS games...

synthetiksin
synthetiksin

So people are saying that the psp should be just as cheap or close to the price point as the ds? That's just stupid... Cell phones without plans are a lot more expensive than the go. I just bought 4 iphones for 3 grand. and those aren't that powerful. You are buying technology. Cellphones without plans cost a lot more, just because of what? The voice communication module? Point is, it is fair.130-150 for the ds and 250-300 for the psp, which you get twice as much power from. The only thing preventing the PSP to reign handheld supreme is the crappy games. THAT's what should be preventing people from buying it.

TripSe7en
TripSe7en

PSPGo @ $299 = Epic fail... It is so sad that Sony believes their launch prices for all their systems are fair. It is not until two years into their life cycles that they become economical. Sure the early adopters will buy them, like myself with the PS3 ($600!!!), but for the masses it does not make financial sense. It is no wonder Sony is loosing its grasp as the kingpin...

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@Epoq Yup, you pretty much nailed it. The price point was the main reason the PSP struggled against the DS; why in the world would you make the exact same mistake? Also a lot of "options," "possibilities," and "hypotheticals" about Sony's latest launches. Hypothetically, my wife and I might have a threesome with Jessica Biel tonight, but it doesn't seem likely. When your only hard facts are being overpriced and using risky technology, you've got to wonder.

Epoq
Epoq

The PSP Go's lack of a UMD drive for my current collection was reason enough for me not to get one, but the $250 price point really seals it's fate. Somehow I'm not convinced that it is going to do too well. Come on, $250?! Wow, bring back the good old days where you could get yourself a Gameboy with Tetris for $60!

Pete5506
Pete5506

I am glad that there is a price cut

Attoyou
Attoyou

Is the Fat PS3 now going to be called Fat Princess ? lol i like the slim looks pretty good. maybe ill get another PS3 then ill own 2 ps3s! ive bought 3 360s and yet. i have None. they all broke over and over.