Sony exec goes on the record about 3G adoption, proprietary memory cards, Naughty Dog's (lack of) Vita development, and the future of the PSP.
The PlayStation Vita officially launches in North America, Europe, Latin America, Australasia, the Middle East, and Africa today. To mark the worldwide rollout of the handheld, Sony's senior vice president of PlayStation brand marketing Guy Longworth spoke with GameSpot to make a last-minute push for the system launch and answer questions about the First Edition Bundle, customer adoption of the system's 3G features, the decision to use proprietary memory cards for the Vita, and more.
GameSpot: What are you looking at to determine if the international launch is a success?
Guy Longworth: PlayStation Vita is a long-term platform for us, so we're in this for the long term. We see it as a 5- to 10-year platform, and we'll look at the success on a by-market and then at a total international level in 12 and 18 and 24 months' time to see how we're doing. Obviously we want to get off to a good start, but we're in this for the long term, and we think that the value proposition that was put together is really going to resonate with core gamers and casual gamers over time. So it's a long-term play for us.
GS: You took a novel tack to launching hardware, with the First Edition Bundle allowing some gamers to get their hands on the hardware a week early. How has the First Edition Bundle promotion gone so far?
GL: It went great. We sold out our prelaunch bundles, so we're excited about that. We got a great response to it.
GS: What are the strongest sellers out of the gate from the First Edition Bundle week?
GL: The best-selling so far is Uncharted: Golden Abyss. It's been warmly received, and that really doesn't surprise us given the popularity of that franchise with our core consumers. There are a number of others that appear to be doing well: Little Deviants, Hot Shots Golf, Mod Nation Racers… It's very early days, but Uncharted is top of the charts so far.
GS: You were quoted in a Eurogamer interview saying Naughty Dog would be making games for PS Vita, but their community manager has since publicly stated they had no plans for that. Can you straighten this out?
GL: I think I was slightly misquoted. I was asked the question which studios will be making games for Vita, and my answer to that question was, "A lot of our studios." I might have said "all" by mistake--that's not impossible. But a large number of our studios are currently making Vita games is the fact of the matter. Naughty Dog currently aren't. So if I caused any confusion, I'm sorry about that.
GS: What was the thinking behind going with proprietary memory cards and the pricing behind them?
GL: There are many different types of memory out there, and what we have is a very high-end piece of flash memory that comes in an extraordinarily small size. What we're trying to do is make sure that the gamer has the best possible experience and the proprietary memory we think gives gamers the best possible experience because we can very much control that memory and make sure it's the highest possible quality.
GS: How is the postlaunch software lineup shaping up?
GL: We've got an incredible lineup of first- and third-party games this year. At launch we've got 26 titles, and there are currently over 100 titles in development worldwide, meaning we're going to have compelling content right throughout the year. You're going to have a whole range of titles coming out, including Ruin, Little Big Planet, and then from third parties, all the big brands are going to be there: Street Fighter, Assassin's Creed, BioShock, Mortal Kombat, and, of course, Call of Duty.
GS: Why aren't PS One Classics or PS2 titles from the PlayStation Network available at launch?
GL: At the moment we're very much focused on getting our new first-party lineup and third-party lineup out there and available for consumers. So that's our focus right now.
GS: Is the Vita competing with the iPhone, Android, and tablets?
GL: What's happened is these new devices have introduced a whole bunch of people to gaming who haven't been in gaming before. That's good news. The pie is growing. In terms of the experiences that people get from an iPhone, an Android device, or a tablet, it's a relatively casual experience, a limited gaming experience for gamers. With PlayStation Vita, what you have is an incredibly immersive gaming experience given the functionality of the product, the franchises and games coming out. And it's really like having a home console in your pocket; it's like having a PlayStation 3 and taking it with you. The experience the PS Vita offers is night and day from the experiences you can get on a tablet, an Android phone, or an iPhone.
GS: How has the 3G adoption been?
GL: We wouldn't disclose that at this stage. We're in the very early stages of launch. But we're very encouraged by the reaction we've had with people looking at the 3G version. I think they realize by taking 3G, it means you can basically play wherever you want to, whenever you want to, and be connected the whole time. And not just through the games but also to your social media with the apps we have like Facebook and Twitter. Consumers are going to look at that and realize that it's something that makes a lot of sense to have now, and also for the future. I think it really future-proofs them in terms of some of the things that will come down the line in terms of gaming experiences that will be possible through 3G, to be able to play online with your friends. We think gamers are understanding that, but we'll wait and see what happens.
GS: The PSP came out in 2005, so it's nearing seven years old, and its successor is launching. Should we expect it to be phased out soon, or do you see it as having a lot of life left in it?
GL: Well, the PSP is still a great entry-level device for people who want a handheld gaming experience. PS Vita is a revolutionary game-changing experience. It's very different. I think for a period of time both will live comfortably next to each other in the same way PS3 and PS2 have lived comfortably together for a period of time. It's an entry point for people into the PlayStation handheld experience at a relatively modest entry price with a wide range of content, so we expect it to be around for a period of time.
sony it's cutting some prices for digital download games, I think it's worth paying for a game developed by a professional studio rather than paying a few bucks for a 10 min game but that's me
if encrypted proprietary memories can avoid piracy it's good but I don't see why memories are so freaking expensive, I own a vita and want more storage but $100 for 32gb it's insane. if they want to sell more consoles they should cut price of memories to 50% or 60%
@BlackLense vita memories are overprices but compare with a hard drives doesn't makes any sense beacuse hard drives are metal spinning discs, memory cards are completely different storage are similar to solid state drvies
@Spacerac - Yeah, I get that. but the only people who will actually be hurt by the higher prices are honest consumers. Hackers will break through that format in a month, if not less so, and start pirating. Especially considering how much hackers dislike Sony.
@dagrimmreepa said:No, you misunderstand me, I never said the memory card was unnecessary, I said it was unnecessary for Sony to make a special format for it, and not use, say, SD or an equivalent that is already available and doesn't cost as much. ---------------------- The thing about SD is that it is very easy to hack into and reverse-engineer to enable pirated games, not to mention any and everything can read an SD card to make that happen. Since the only the Vita can read the Vita cards and since the computer won't "see" a Vita unless an app is used, that's intended to help curb piracy for a bit. Piracy usually does not adversely affect the game industry, but it really did affect the PSP. In spite of it being easier to pirate DS games, PSP games were pirated a whole lot more than DS games were.
I love how the guy completely dodged the memory card pricing, I wish these interviewers wouldn't let these marketing bozos get away with it.
@Jag-T1000 I never have thought that about any games that I have bought and there has only been one game that I regret on buying because it sucked and I have been playing games for over 20 years
I guess everybody has different perspectives. One day, two or three years from now...you'll think back and say " I can't believe I payed this much for these games." Only then will you see my point.
I guess I'll just buy Ridge Racer. That one is $30. Everybody else go ahead and spend your hard earned money on a $50 portable game and keep telling yourself that it was a good buy.
if companies arent allowed to charge an extra 10$ for a game of superior value, then where is the incentive to make big blockbuster games for a portable system.
@Jag-T1000 wrong uncharted is well worth $50 and I base my opinion on the game it self and not what it is on to decide if it is a good game and is it worth the price
@Spacerac - No, you misunderstand me, I never said the memory card was unnecessary, I said it was unnecessary for Sony to make a special format for it, and not use, say, SD or an equivalent that is already available and doesn't cost as much.
I picked up my VITA Feb 22, This hand held is crazy good!!! Im suprised and satisfied. Uncharted is also addicting and fun. its so much you can do with the VITA. and its only getting started!!. to all who digrading this hand held system, Get one first before you judge because its cool comparded to the other hand helds out there. please no smart remarks, save the kid attitudes for future generations lmao!!
@supertom221 Australasia is the term used to describe the region that includes Australia and New Zealand, and also some of the surrounding islands in the Pacific Ocean, such as New Guinea.
I reaally want one, it's a nice one, but Sony why? why? another memory card type? just because you guys don't have more gaining on the Duo cards anymore doesn't meant that you have to rip gamers arses in two, where here to buy you products and give the support. I have the money to buy your stupid memory but I'm pretty sure when I'm going to the store and buy your Vita I'm not going to have that happy face just because of this tricky move. A $100 memory card, give me a break!
um they 'sold out our prelaunch bundles' not on ALL the vitas. Read the article people. And screw you, Sony, for the memory card answer. It's not like its sentient.
People bought Uncharted? Goddammit, guys, are you really that eager to pay $10 more for a handheld games?
TO ALL HATERS!!! If you cant afford it, or if you hate the hardware / software or anything which gives you a reason not to buy the vita. Try keeping your cr@p to yourself and go play on your superior consoles instead of ranting here. I got mine at launch and if anyone is still not sure whether to buy it. Just do it already, this thing is amazing! Lastly the 16gb memory cards were sold out in 3 of the 4 stores I visited here in London (note- we do not have 32gb mem cards) So yes I can see some truth in this article.
I hope that Sony can have success with the Vita. Personally, I won't be buying one for a long time, if ever. As for the memory cards, the only reason that they are so expensive is so that Sony can make money. They are probably losing money on each Vita sold, so they're just trying to recoup costs. But they are still very expensive.
The proprietary cards are an "extraordinarily small size" huh? And there's me thinking we already had tiny, tiny cards with Micro SD.... and guess what? They cost a pittance.... no excuse. I get the proprietary format helps stop piracy, but the prices they're asking for them is ludicrous... it's like I'm back in 1995/6 getting hoodwinked for a PS1 memory card all over again....
haha , all the trolls posting "SONY/VITA DOOMED" threads before the actual release , now that it's released it's (not) suprisingly sold out
I will buy uncharted golden abyss,assasins creed, call of duty, little deviants and sounds and shapes.
"There are many different types of memory out there, and what we have is a very high-end piece of flash memory that comes in an extraordinarily small size. What we're trying to do is make sure that the gamer has the best possible experience and the proprietary memory we think gives gamers the best possible experience because we can very much control that memory and make sure it's the highest possible quality." Weasel talk at it's best. Provide the best possible experience?? I would've recieved a very good experience with a SanDisk memory card as well, thank you very much. Guy, Unless your Memory Cards transform into an Autobot that swears in spanish, I seriously doubt you guys are going to provide anything better than Magic Cards and SanDisk.
"The PlayStation Vita officially launches in North America, Europe, Latin America, Australasia, the Middle East, and Africa today. " OH MAN!! Awesome! Can't wait fo it to get to Australasia already, it's just where I live!..... Umm, where is Australasia again?
@metalkitten I think they were talking about the first edition bundles being sold out. I'm not sure but I don't think the first editions were not supposed to be on the shelves but were only a pre-order item directly shipped to the consumer. I picked up one these first edition bundles and besides the kids game little deviants (which I gave away) the package was a good one, I'm loving this unit more so than the PSP when I originally bought that.
(Sony) So ummm yeah...we went with the special memory so we can gouge the consumer for every dollar humanly possible, umm wait, I mean so we can give them the best possible experience....Ignore the 200% markup on the cards. Truly, we did it for the customer!!!
so why didn't the consumer get a choice of what sd memory unit he/she wants? instead of the top flash memory card for the best experience ? what a load of tosh!! hmmm where have i seen something like this b4 ?? xbxox wireless adaption 80 quid, pc version 4-8 quid...it is overpriced hugely, so i expect loads of funky stuff from the vita including cloud gaming from my ps3 anywhere Sony
ehm is this just about usa? cause i took a look at my local store and all online stores i use in europe and they got tons and tons of vitas in stock - its no where near sold out - the 3ds however dont have as many this article need to show numbers, its just blabalbla talk really unless they got something to back it up with they already said wrong about who did the uncharted game what else are they telling wrong? i do wish vita pick up, lower price etc - but all i care about is games - im a gamer i dont care to have net access outdoors and connect to facebook or whatever - just give me good games! (i have a pc and a mobil - i dont want all in one thanks) also i think some think it looks so cool and luxery with the black finish that gives finger prints all over personally i hate it and had to put a skin on my psp cause of it
Sold is the amount purchased by the market (public), "shipping" is the term that refers to the amount of stock retailers have ordered. The bundles are still available to purchase but the "prelaunch" bundles allowed people to get it up to a week early.
of course its gonna work just as well along side the psp as the ps2 did and still do next to ps3 - sony didnt make any of them backcompatiable so theres no choice if u wanna play psp and ps2 games... a great system is nothing without the games and so far i rather play the games on a ps3 that theyre offering or not at all bring on some fresh jrpgs and then i might change my mind
@SheerMadness84 Oooo all capital letters make words look IMPORTANT! Seriously though,I'm a Nintendo fan before a Sony fan any day,but it's just childish to go to an article about the Vita,and start slamming it. The 3DS and Vita are toys,nothing more. If I play one,you play another,and someone else plays both,who gives half a rotted turd? It's all opinion. Arguments about sales,graphics power,how easily the machine fits in your pocket,or how easily the screen smudges are all irrelevant in matters of opinion.
"There are many different types of memory out there, and what we have is a very high-end piece of flash memory that comes in an extraordinarily small size. What we're trying to do is make sure that the gamer has the best possible experience and the proprietary memory we think gives gamers the best possible experience because we can very much control that memory and make sure it's the highest possible quality" Really? They could have used a better excuse.
"the proprietary memory we think gives gamers the best possible experience because we can very much control that memory and make sure it's the highest possible quality." Quality memory? I've used first and 3rd party generic memory cards on various systems,and they both did what I wanted. Remembered my game data. There is no "quality" in memory. There's saved data and lost data. Dumb argument. But..... "What's happened is these new devices have introduced a whole bunch of people to gaming who haven't been in gaming before. That's good news. The pie is growing." That's an intelligent statement. Too many analysts have been looking at nothing but the sales of 99 cent "gaming" apps and used that to conclude that dedicated handhelds are finished. But if you look at the PEOPLE buying those apps,how many stopped using real gaming devices as opposed to those who never played games before,but now they have a smartphone,so they just try it out? Handheld gaming is here to stay. Now I get to listen to people argue about "Vita pwns 3DS!" and "No,Vita SUX!" People are irritating.
@sheermadeness84, I'm having great fun with Uncharted! It's EASILY as good as anything naughty dog has created, infact it's so good, that if I didn't know otherwise, I'd say Naughty Dog had created it. Have you played it? I severely doubt it ( I'm expecting you to respond with, "I've played all the PSvita games and they are rubbish!!!") The Vita makes the 3DS look like a kids toy, which is what it is, one of your "pro's" for the 3DS is that you have 3 rated M games? To me that's you showing your insecurity about the system. You can prefer the 3DS all you want, but it is by no means a superior machine. The technology and capabilities of the PSVita have blown me away. Go "turn on" mario and finish him off
The irony for me as that I have so little need for mobile gaming that my Android phone is more than enough. Why is this ironic? Because I'm using Snes9x to play Super SF2 on an Xperia Play, that's why :)
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