TGS 2009: SCEI CEO Kaz Hirai talks up Sony strategy, new console sales at TGS keynote address; nearly $274 million of goods sold on PSN to date, PlayStation Home hits 8 million.
TOKYO--The last time Kaz Hirai fronted a major games conference, the Sony Computer Entertainment CEO and president made one of the biggest announcements in the PlayStation 3's short history. Last month at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany, he unveiled the oft-rumoured Slim model with its ultra-competitive price point.
Now, Hirai is set to take the stage as the keynote speaker at this year's Tokyo Game Show. And, sure enough, the speculation mill has started to grind again, with reports that another version of the PS3 Slim--one that houses a 250GB hard drive and that will possibly be bundled with the PlayTV peripheral--will be unveiled.
Another likely top of Hirai's speech will be Sony's plans for its new motion-sensing controllers for the PS3. The LED- and camera-based system was first unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and Hirai recently revealed that it would be out sometime in spring 2010. As of yet, no firm release date has been announced, and the only game that has been confirmed as using the system is EA Sports' Grand Slam Tennis.
Hirai's keynote address--tentatively titled "Sony Computer Entertainment 2009 Strategy"--is slated to start at 10:30 a.m. Tokyo time (6:30 p.m. PDT).
[6:20] It's 10.20 a.m. Tokyo time, and Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai is about to take the stage. As opposed to previous years, when TGS keynote addresses where held in large conference halls, this year's keynote address has been placed inside one of the gigantic halls of the convention center itself. Even though there are a few hundred people here to listen to Hirai speak, the place feels cavernous and empty.
[6:23] As has become standard for Sony, there have been plenty of rumours about what exactly will be unveiled, with the latest being talk of PS2 and Dreamcast games heading to PSN. That and the supposed 250GB version of the Slim.
[6:25] The speakers are blaring some Mariah Carey-like easy listening tunes. Hopefully the crowd won't fall asleep before Hirai hits the stage.
[6:26] Standing room only now. Thankfully there's plenty of space to spread out.
[6:27] Housekeeping announcements: no photography and filming. Better tell all the camera crews already set up that minor detail.
[6:28] A large ring of people are now standing around the dozens of rows of seats in the middle of the hall. Sony sure knows how to pull in a crowd.
[6:30] OK, here we go. Lights dim, music gets all techno for TGS video sting.
[6:31] TGS logo pops up. Ironically, it looks an awful lot like the 360 power button.
[6:31] Nice Japanese lady onstage presenting Hirai--and he walks on to a decent amount of polite applause.
[6:32] The Japanese-born, American-educated Hirai speaks in his native tongue. Luckily there are translators on hand.
[6:33] Hirai says the PlayStation business started in December 1994, saying today is the 15th anniversary of the PlayStation brand.
[6:33] Hirai does a quick recap of the PlayStation's history, thanking all the game creators and developers who have supported the platform. Oh, and the gamers around the world, too.
[6:34] Hirai wants to give out his heartfelt appreciation to everyone. Very sweet, and very Japanese.
[6:34] Now he's asking for people's further support as the games industry moves forward.
[6:34] In the last 15 years, he says major changes have happened in technology, environment, and the lifestyle of users.
[6:35] "If we stick to conventional business, we won't be able to survive. We have to consider how we can actually drive the industry forward," he says, "It's quite a serious challenge."
[6:36] One of the major changes is, of course, networked gaming, where connections are increasing in a connected manner. Networks and game consoles are now inseparable, he says.
[6:37] "Where it was, at one time, only with your family you could play games, the network now allows you to play games with anyone, as well as form communities," says the translator. Hirai is usually a bit more eloquent than that.
[6:37] "So, how can we define this? Listening, viewing, communication, sharing, learning. These are all elements for interactive entertainment experiences, which are essential for enjoyable experiences."
[6:38] He points out Little Big Planet as a key example of a game that gets all these elements right. User-generated content of LBP has been supported by many users. As of today, network stages amount to 1.28 milion user-created stages!
[6:38] That means people have to play for 29 years straight to get through every created stage for LBP.
[6:38] SingStar now gets a nod as another game that gets it right.
[6:39] As well as the songs on the Singstar disc, people are "flocking" to get DLC songs. Communities are being formed around these songs and the content they create. So the game has moved well beyond just packaged content.
[6:40] Enjoyment is always a core element, Hirai says, but networks can create brand-new entertainment.
[6:41] "So, what do we need to develop now?" Hirai asks. "Well, we have to be always open to what people want."
[6:41] PS3 and PSP, he says, are well positioned to take advantage of these future changes. Shocker.
[6:42] Moving on to the PS3, Hirai says the new Slim model has sold 1 million units in just three weeks. (Not two, as initially reported by the translator at the conference.)
[6:43] He shows a graph with crazy spikes for added effect.
[6:43] "With the new PS3, we have been doing great, with one of the main reasons being the price drop." Naturally.
[6:44] He says prices shouldn't be dropped after a set amount of time. It's more about having a great lineup of games to make it worthwhile. But Sony has been able to lower the price because of lower manufacturing costs, he says.
[6:44] Hirai says there will now be more than 300 titles for the PS3 available by Christmas.
[6:46] Cue flashy video showing off the PS3's Christmas releases and 2010 lineup. Uncharted 2, God of War III, Yakuza 4, and FFXIII make cameo appearances.
[6:46] Footage of Team ICO's The Last Guardian shows up, and it looks like the main boy hero has gone through a bit of a visual upgrade since we saw him last, sporting a shawl.
[6:47] Now on to Blu-ray. Hirai says three years ago, Sony got a lot of flack for putting it in the PS3, but Sony still believes it's the only way to go.
[6:48] Now Hirai is chatting about the DualShock 3 and other controllers for the system, including the EyeToy camera, which he says is for casual users to get into the action.
[6:48] The PS3's motion controller is now onscreen, with Hirai referring to the big reveal at E3 this year. He says even core gamers will be into this.
[6:49] He has a motion controller with him, and he's holding it up now. It looks like a black flashlight with a round ball on top, which changes colour once in a while.
[6:50] Hirai says the tech inside the controller can detect movement very accurately when used in conjunction with the PlayStation Eye camera. "Very real enjoyment can be contained," says the translator.
[6:51] He repeats the motion sensor's 2010 release date, but nothing more specific.
[6:51] Hirai then calls out to other developers to work on getting games out for the motion controller.
[6:51] Now it's the PSP's turn to take center stage. Cue the obligatory video montage.
[6:52] It starts with some shots of the PSP Go, followed by gameplay footage. Gran Turismo PSP heads the list, followed by plenty of Japanese games.
[6:53] Little Big Planet for the PSP is onscreen now, as well as EchoShift, the EchoChrome sequel.
[6:54] Hirai recaps the PSP Go release dates around the world and runs through the key features of the new UMD-less device. It comes out in North America on October 1.
[6:55] He says the number of downloadable games available for the PSP Go will be "greatly accelerated."
[6:56] Hirai hints at other applications that will be available for the PSP soon, but isn't talking about it just yet. Oh Kaz, you tease.
[6:57] Is the PS2 still around? Of course it is, with Hirai announcing that more than 130 million units have been sold worldwide.
[6:59] EDITOR'S NOTE: Classy. Nintendo decided to announce the Wii price cut in the middle of Hirai's speech. $199 starting September 27, people.
[7:00] While the hardware is their vertical axis, Hirai says, the PSN is their horizontal network.
[7:01] PSN is now traded in 22 different currencies, with sales so far exceeding 25 billion yen (nearly $274,000,000).
[7:02] "We expect to triple last year's sales in 2010," says Hirai.
[7:02] Hirai is now talking about the video download service in the US for PSN, with more than 33,000 movies to date. It's now expanding outside of the US, with November launches for UK, Germany, and Spain. The rest of Europe gets it in 2010.
[7:03] He recaps some of the GamesCom announcements, including the BBCi player announcement for the UK.
[7:03] PlayStation Home now has more than 8 million users.
[7:03] Hirai now asks people to make sure to visit the booth on the show floor and heads off to another round of applause.
[7:03] But wait! That's not all folks!
[7:05] A table and two chairs are set up, and Hirai heads back out accompanied by a journo from Nikkei Business Publications, one of the sponsors of the TGS Forum. Guess it's question and answer time.
[7:05] The journo starts off by asking about the differences between the Western and Japanese game industries.
[7:06] Hirai starts right off with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, saying there was considerable attention about Beatles Rock Band in the US.
[7:07] He says games like Beatles are being covered by non-gaming media outlets, which may lead to an an even stronger growth in the games industry.
[7:07] Next question: What's the next stage of evolution for gaming?
[7:08] Hirai says 3D gaming is the next step, recapping the Sony Group's recent commitment to 3D in HDTVs and 3D gaming.
[7:08] Hirai says experiencing 3D gaming and TV is "quite enjoyable" and it's well suited to television gaming.
[7:09] Next question: With the motion controller, what's your expectation of what you can achieve?
[7:11] Hirai says there are a lot of emotions you feel in gaming, but they're not possible to reflect in a game. He thinks there's plenty of potential in that. An example: If an RPG character can tell if you're lying or excited by looking at your face (via a PlayStation Eye, presumably), then that would be very exciting.
[7:11] He says that's his dream, and it could include things like heartbeat monitors, eye monitors, or even sweat!
[7:13] Hirai says the network is a bigger issue--if you don't have network connectivity, then you're not really there in gaming.
[7:17] He says new synergies will be created within Sony to better take advantage of the company's network assets. Hirai says Sony Corporation places plenty of focus on how the network can impact users.
[7:19] Next question: What messages are you giving games publishers about the PS3?
[7:19] Hirai says the world is becoming borderless, and companies need to have a global perspective.
[7:20] And the journo is wrapping things up, thanking Hirai for his time. So much for the 250GB PS3 announcement…
[7:21] And that is actually it. Check back soon for more of GameSpot's coverage of the 2009 Tokyo Game Show.
PS3 is one of the Greatest Consoles EVER Made and here's our Proof!!!!(arrows pointing) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I love games. and owning ps3 and 360 is the best enjoying both of the worlds as they say but im really disappointed in the 360. I own a ps3 for 3 months now and it runs like i just got it from the factory my 360 runs like it been dropped from a 11 story building ran over with a car few times and glued back 2gather lol For the $ i spent on the system i feel like MS is giving me a giant middle finger saying keep spending more cause ur an idiot and we dont give a rats a$$ about u just ur $ :(
Sorry Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony definitely has the upper hand in the video console industry. They ruled with a iron fist with the PS2 and are doing the same with the PS3. I'm so happy I bought a slim.
Glad to see the slim selling well. I plan to get my soon. And considering I'm just now getting my PS3 there's a nice library of games waiting for me. *rubs hands together in excitement*
I was also part of that 1million sales number. The first week in fact! I traded my Xbox360 in to my local GameStop after the DVD drive died in it. (Making it the third Xbox360 I had to buy a replacement for) Now I sit on my 120GB PS3 slim and love it. The games are awsome, and the graphics are insane. More and more PS3 multiplatform games look, and run better on the PS3, and have extra goodies. IE the Star Ocean international game is going to use AA, and motion Blur, Tekken 6 runs better on PS3 Street fighter 5 will run better on PS3, Dead Space runs, and looks better on PS3, the same goes for Red Faction, Army of Two, and BF:BC2, as well as the exclusive titles are insanely good! I just beat Killzone 2, and Uncharted 2 and I'm going on my second play through for both titles to get more trophies, I have also just got into the Dust Sector and beat the first 2 missions for liberation, and I'll be doing more and more Guerrila actions to get the nano forge later in the game.
Slaymaio1 says its a waste cuz he prob cant afford 1.. But I have the PS3 Fatty and i paid close to 6 bills for mines.(no problem) when from sega genesis so PS1 to PS2(stood with the one with the fan) then got PSP(which is the 1000 edition) then PS3(fatty) now the GO! .. Damn I love Sony.. mind you tv's, radio, car tv/system radio.. SONY ALL DA WAY !!
the writer of this article sounds awfully sarcastic, to the point that i don't believe he even enjoys sony :/
azyzy, you're wrong. The new ps3 is 120gig followed by one that's coming out with 250 gig. Also the ps3 is way better, controls are better, graphics are better, you don't have to pay for internet, great exclusives, failure rate is a lot less and much more. The only reason i would buy a 360 is if i can't get a ps3.
@ pureskull123 Hey I like the Sony LCD tv's but I do think LG is my fav. Also I love the Sony Walkman MP3 players, I own one myself and I think they are awesome. Good sound quality, slim, not expensive, all the features of an ipod, just an all around good product. So as I do agree that there are other brands of products that do make better products than Sony, I disagree that Sony is a crappy company and I think they make decent products and I'm happy with all my Sony products. No complaints with any Sony products with me. I'm glad they are doing well.
@Scorchgame Really? stop being an ignorant fanboy please. I know the ps3 is a good bang for the buck but "sony delivers good quality products" GIMME a break! sony hdtv=overpriced and crap, gets beaten up by brands like insignia or sometimes lg who offer best quality and PRICE. sony vaio=MEGA CRAP, laptops like asus, toshiba, hp, even brands like acer and lenovo offer better reliability and PRICE, no good warranty. Sony camcorders=overpriced and not even hd some of them, we are on 2009 hitting 2010, and this losers are still making 480p camcorderss, and selling them for over 380 bucks, go take a hike sony losers pathetic no lifers. Sanyo, canon, jvc moved on and are still best bang for the buck. Cell phones= I phones is rip off its good but its a total rip off the cost of productions is like total 46 percent., but sony is no good either the crap they come out with is as overpriced and people go for the iphone, while brands like lg or samsung or even nokia is a still better deal. Sony the only good thing you have is the ps3 and i respect that, the psp go is another rip off according to Patcher who said it was less expensive to make than the psp 3000 yet its going to be more expensive.
Sony always deliver the best quality product but somehow not good at attracting stupid dumb sh!ts who love the worst quality products like iPod, and Wii. iPod has the worst sound quality and Wii's grpahics is totally sh!t. Plus xbox 360 doesn't include free network, wifi and blu-ray and it breaks more than PS3. Sony All-in-one products are for professionals and not for lazy idiots. They do have the best quality products.
Why is it we need to know the 8 elements that make up interactive content? How many people did Sony get falling asleep this year? Oh my god he talked about the Playstation 3, wait you mean that console that we already know everything about, so what else is there to know? Wait a second! You mean lower the price of the ps3 and you'll sell more systems? hmmmm interesting i never would of thought of that
Why is it we need to know the 8 elements that make up interactive content? How many people did Sony get falling asleep this year? Oh my god he talked about the Playstation 3, wait you mean that console that we already know everything about, so what else is there to know?
as an (not-so proud anymore) xbox 360 owner i must say: this is really nice and i'm buying a ps3 soon ... and im tired of playing "beta versions" of games like Tales of Vesperia and Eternal Sonata on my xbox... this ps3 price cut is a godsend
@iandizion713 Actually, I'm pretty sure PS3's can still play PS1 games. But that doesn't help a lot of people...
The price drop seems to have worked. This seems to show that the main reason the console sold less than the others was it's price (and small amount of exclusives at launch, but not anymore). They took their time, though.
idk why, but i think most of the people who bought the slim are former xbox fanboys who probably has a broken 360 lol
woah, never knew that $100 cut would make such a big difference, i knew it was gonna help, but WOAH! that's like around 55 thousand PS3's sold in a day, i guess this is all starting to resemble a little system i like to call ......the PS2....and now i think about it, the original xbox was $100 dollars more than the ps2, no wonder... why it lost, now they're even on pricing, but PS3=more features and better quality(blu-ray wise) ....well except for the wii, despite the $200 price tag, still aint selling that well, but now that 360 has Natal and all , interest in the 360 just jumpstarted like popcorns in a microwave set on EXTREME!! :D even though being a Sony fanboy and all, Natal actually got me interested into whether i should......well better not get there for now
@kleeyook, actually for the first time sony is actually making a return on their ps3 sales now that the production costs are now lower than what they are selling it at unlike b4. nintendo is still the best off, in terms of making money altho they arnt making much money out of selling the consoles anymore but they have sold double everybody else by now so it doesnt matter as much because they have profited 10 billion, unlike sony which have lost 3 billion and microsoft which have lost 5 billion overall:P
The price im willing to pay for a PS3 is $129. $300 is still to much for a system with only MGS4 as a good game to own.
@Decepticon_11 I feel you. Like who didn't or who doesn't own like 2o r 3 dvd players or 2 or three hd tv's right. Nothing wrong with 2 ps3's. I did sell Mr Chunky ps3 for money towards a slim but if I could have kept both I would have. One for the living room and basement. Good job PSP slim.
@Kleeyook Not much, I reckon. I think, as the components (more than likely) became cheaper to manufacture, the overall price decreased.
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