Feature Article

Shuhei Yoshida Interview: "Great Games Are Still Coming to PS Vita"

GameSpot speaks with the head of Sony Worldwide Studios following a strong showcase for PS4 and VR at Paris Games Week.

When I last spoke with Shuhei Yoshida, Sony's global head of first-party studios, the PS4 was several months away from release and--despite a palpable sense of momentum--an uncertain future lied ahead for him. That wasn't just because the Xbox had such a strong grip on the market, but for bleaker reasons too. At the time, a racket of analysts and games executives were routinely forewarning of the death of the console altogether.

At Paris Games week, we met under markedly different circumstances. Sony's home console business is arguably more prosperous than ever, with PS4 sales still outpacing the most popular console of all time. It's an unbelievable achievement that, several years ago, you would have found no one predicting.

Those doomsayer analysts have now, of course, gone conspicuously quiet. Yoshida hasn't. He is as infectiously enthusiastic as ever when we meet to discuss a broad range of topics from games to technologies, as well as his personal highlights from Sony's Paris Games Week media briefing.

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"It's not like we don't have any games in development at all [on Vita]. We do, but our focus is on PS4 and PlayStation VR."

Shuhei Yoshida

Congratulations on the press conference, which seems to have gone down well with fans. What was your personal highlight?

Ah yes, I'll pick two things. One was Dreams gameplay, which I think went well. It's just one little bit of the project--it's a huge project--but it was great to talk about how to create and share and play, and how that's all integrated, and how you can hop between dreams like you were web-browsing. It's a very flexible and open system.

The other highlight was Detroit, I have been waiting for this game to be announced.

It was a broad line-up, with new IP, original games, along with staple brands and franchises. I wonder, of all the projects Worldwide Studios is involved with, which genres and areas would you like to invest more resources in?

Well as head of Worldwide Studios I have to make sure we are covering a wide variety of initiatives, but we do not go from a top-down approach like, "this studio has to make this game, that studio has to make that game." But we have a conversation every time a [PlayStation] studio completes a project or opens up some resource, and we discuss what we are looking for in the future from a platform standpoint.

So we will have told studios that we are working on virtual reality, or we are expanding our reach to a broader audience, and discuss those platform initiatives to see if any of their ideas match. So that becomes part of the process.

Personally speaking, I tend to look more at new technology. I spend a lot of time on new IP and ideas. It's a lot of fun, and it's new. I'm in the position where developers and teams bring all this stuff to me, so I give feedback and learn ideas from everything people come to me with. With the more established franchises, I trust that they have it sorted. They know what they're doing.

There were a significant number of third-party exclusive and timed-exclusive games shown at the event too, from Street Fighter V to No Man's Sky to Call of Duty DLC. Will you continue to pursue these third-party exclusivity deals so proactively in the future?

Well yeah it's a great thing to have, and third-parties are always talking to us and Microsoft and other platform holders, and we make these deals when things fit in place. I'm not involved directly, but our third-party team is always talking to publishers, and I'm sure more things will come about all the time.

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There was a distinct absence of PS Vita games shown, and following the absence at E3, I suppose that fact speaks for itself.

You mean at the press conference?

Yes.

Ah yes there are some on the show floor.

Of course, but because you use your conferences to showcase your most important projects, I'm wondering if the absence at these events suggests Sony is slowing down the handheld side of the business?

Hmmn, well it's always about the choice of content. We could have used the event to talk about our new online services. Or the PS4's new system features. There are many things we're working on that we didn't have time for. I mean the conference we had was already at 90 minutes, and that is as much as people will be able to kind of stay focused. So we really wanted to prioritise on games we have on PS4 and PlayStation VR.

But still, great games are still coming out on Vita. I can't wait to play a game called Severed, by DrinkBox studios, they are one of my favourite indie developers. And there's Nuclear Throne, by Vlambeer, and Volume is a great game that I'm waiting to come out on Vita. I'm also really looking forward to Dragon Quest Heroes 2, the first one just came out on PS4 in the west but the sequel is coming out on PS4 and Vita too, so Square Enix and Japanese publishers are almost increasing their support.

In terms of first-party games, however, there won't be that same level of support.

Yes I've been pretty honest saying our focus has shifted to PS4 and PlayStation VR, it's not like we don't have any development at all. We do, but our focus is on PS4 and PlayStation VR, and we are happy to see third-parties and indies support it.

Do you want and do you foresee the PlayStation Vita business continuing in the next year and the year beyond that?

Yeah I do, I do, but we have to see. Nowadays, still people are excited and using Vita very frequently, it's a great portable gaming system. As long as there is a demand, why not.

Of course part of your focus now is PlayStation VR, and it was interesting that there were no details on release date or price. Why is this? Are you still trying to get the costs down?

Well we're still not ready for a date and price, but the hardware has been going very well. It's pretty much done, but the team in Tokyo is working hard to get the system software and the SDK done and continually improve it, to make sure that the experience is great for customers and developers.

We also want to make sure that when we launch we also have a good selection of games, so it's a bit too early to sort out a price and date.

It's good to hear you want to prioritise the quality of your launch titles, because it's not quite the same as a console launch, in that, one bad experience in VR could put customers off the whole technology.

Yeah, pretty much we agree with the Oculus people, and the HTC Vive, and Valve people, that we care so much about the future of virtual reality and we want all of us to do the right thing. When we release to the consumer, it needs to be really good.

So, every time I interview you, I always ask you about the Last Guardian. I thought I wouldn't need to ever ask you again after it was shown at E3.

You can still ask!

I wondered how it's progressing. Obviously it hasn't been shown since.

Well, development is going well, but because it's about the story, we don't want to show too much. We wanted to show that it exists, it works, it runs. It's not like we won't show anything before launch, but I think we will try to limit what we show about the game.

What the team did at The Tokyo Game Show was create a gigantic interactive Trico [the game's bird-dog-cat-hybrid creature] projected onto the wall at the Sony booth, and it followed people around. It was great, I wish we had it in Paris.

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I was hoping you could clear something up for me. Sony is helping fund and publish the Shenmue 3 project, so my assumption was always that this meant it will be a console exclusive, or a timed one, or there was at least some form of business arrangement made. But I don't know what the deal is.

So it's Yu Suzuki-san's studio's project, which is an indie developer. Now there are many deals that SCEA and SCEE have made with indie developers, with regards to console exclusivity and timed exclusivity, and I do not remember exactly what we have been saying about it, but the developer has been saying it's coming to PS4 and... I think they are saying it's coming to PC? I'm not sure, I can't remember what it says on their Kickstarter.

It's a very unique, curious arrangement, isn't it?

It's true that SCEA has a deal with Yu Suzuki-san's company, to support in various ways, but it's not like we are funding it. We are helping with some financial support, but it's their project, which they have crowd-funded, and have investors to help with.

Well it's not unique in terms of making a deal with a developer that is funded primarily through Kickstarter. We have done many deals like that. What is unique is that we announced the Kickstarter on stage at E3.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

crossleyrob

Rob Crossley

Rob Crossley was GameSpot's UK Editor between 2014 and 2016.
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Avatar image for louie_cloud
louie_cloud

Sony before announcing games on the VITA lets focus on great value first. No matter how many games you have your expensive memory cards are still in the way..

1) Vita +free 64gb memory card bundle for $199

2.) then announce the games

Avatar image for speedfog
speedfog

Announce them then!

I can smell the bullshit from them.

Avatar image for Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

It's a damn shame that as soon as I purchased a Vita TV, they literally pulled out. I'm disappointed on how easily they gave up.

Avatar image for retromanhd
RetroManHD

This is nice to hear, I do like my Vita.

Avatar image for greenpolyp
greenpolyp

Ps vita= Portable ps one. They can save it by making it play PS2 games, and lowering the price of the classics.

Avatar image for silviacontri
SilviaContri

Zero Escape 3 is also coming to PSVita.

Avatar image for paulogy
paulogy

Great interview. Please keep asking about The Last Guardian! I'm eager to play that game, at long last :-)

Avatar image for wkadalie
wkadalie

@paulogy: Not long now. It will be delayed another 9 years. So just around the corner.

Avatar image for retromanhd
RetroManHD

@7tizz: They can be... it's all relative!

Avatar image for Gaming-Planet
Gaming-Planet

Please understand. We have plenty of indie ports coming.

Avatar image for GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

They let the Vita die man....it was the most beautiful console, handheld or otherwise and they let it die....

Avatar image for Celsius765
Celsius765

I believe it when I see it. Also Gamstop has a chart about what a vita card can hold does the number of games increase if I have no music or photos

http://www.gamestop.com/gs/images/content-pdp/vitaMemoryCardChart.jpg

Avatar image for croxus
Croxus

i was only expecting it have one god of war at least and one racing game at the standards og real racing 3. Since its a failure anyway, i wonder why dont they port ios and androiud games, they have nothing to lose at this with direct comparisons, the vita is at the third of the iphone price, it handle any mobile game there is and its joysticks will give it a killer advantage. rr3 and miodern cvombat port is the least they could and let microtransactions work out foir everyone!

Avatar image for asal_bach
asal_bach

It could have been the best handheld gaming device ever with all the AAA games and what not.........only if mobile phones didn't exist.

I still love my PS Vita & still have a huge library of games to play.

Avatar image for Wesleypipes77
Wesleypipes77

Stop lying.

Avatar image for akujin2
akujin2

oh thank god. I've had it for about 4 years now and I'm still waiting for it to have 1 great game. this makes me so happy that i didn't sell it. *cough* not *cough*

Avatar image for flashn00b
flashn00b

>"Great games are still coming to the vita"

Does that mean that you'll fully endorse the homebrew scene? Because homebrew was what sold the PSP with apps like OpenTyrian, Cave Story, Doom Legacy and Quake. Would love to see Zandronum (and Brutal Doom by consequence) make its way to the Vita.

Avatar image for Lhomity
Lhomity

@flashn00b: They literally did have homebrew on Vita (PlayStation Mobile). It wasn't popular. It flopped. Hackers found an exploit with one of the dev tools Sony provided. Sony killed it. PSMobile went nowhere. Sony took it offline.

That's the point, though. It wasn't homebrew that sold the PSP. It was piracy. And though PSP hardware did well, software did not, and a lot of devs and retailers got burned as a result.

It's not hard or super expensive to get a proper licensed dev kit for PS4 or Vita nowadays anyway. One could easily develop games/apps for Vita with little cost or effort without needing to break the platform open to pirates.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

Oh please, we all know the Vita is dead. I knew that the day they announced first party AAA support was gone. Its basically just living off of ports.

Avatar image for realguitarhero5
realguitarhero5

I'll believe it when I see it.

Avatar image for deactivated-58183aaaa31d8

Lying.....bastard! We all know Vita is a total failure. The past two E3s there has been literally NOTHING even slightly interesting announced for the Vita.

The fact you can't even admit it to us like an adult is utterly pathetic frankly.

Avatar image for Lhomity
Lhomity

@dexda: Grim Fandango and World of Final Fantasy were announced for Vita at E3, along with some indies, etc. Perhaps you skipped over those bits of the shows?

Avatar image for deactivated-58183aaaa31d8

@Lhomity: No, I know about those games. My original comment still stands.

I mean Grim Fandango is on pretty much every platform. If I was going to get it I'd get it in full HD on one of the consoles or PC with controls that don't suck.

Avatar image for thecreechxxx
thecreechxxx

Die VITA ist tot!

Avatar image for SpiderLuke
SpiderLuke

Once again, everyone without a Vita is talking crap. I play it more than my PS4 and 3DS, I can tell you that. It's also a nice added perk that I can play my PS4 with minimal lag anywhere in the world with wifi.

Avatar image for deactivated-58183aaaa31d8

@SpiderLuke: You do realise you are probably one of a tiny minority right? I like my Vita but there is no way I'd play on it over my PS4.

Avatar image for SpiderLuke
SpiderLuke

@dexda: I blame it on my 12-hour work days and a wife that hogs the TV. Lol.

Avatar image for jlenoconel
jlenoconel

Erm, yeah, the Vita is dead.

Avatar image for Naquada
Naquada

"Of course, but because you use your conferences to showcase your most important projects, I'm wondering if the absence at these events suggests Sony is slowing down the handheld side of the business?

Hmmn, well it's always about the choice of content. We could have used the event to talk about our new online services. Or the PS4's new system features. There are many things we're working on that we didn't have time for. I mean the conference we had was already at 90 minutes, and that is as much as people will be able to kind of stay focused. So we really wanted to prioritise on games we have on PS4 and PlayStation VR.

But still, great games are still coming out on Vita. I can't wait to play a game called Severed, by DrinkBox studios, they are one of my favourite indie developers. And there's Nuclear Throne, by Vlambeer, and Volumeis a great game that I'm waiting to come out on Vita. I'm also really looking forward to Dragon Quest Heroes 2, the first one just came out on PS4 in the west but the sequel is coming out on PS4 and Vita too, so Square Enix and Japanese publishers are almost increasing their support."

That's the longest way to answer 'Yes' to a question that I think I've ever had to translate from PR doublespeak.

Avatar image for ObeseChipmunk
ObeseChipmunk

@Naquada: Agreed. I wish the interviewer pushed him on that question instead of giving this article a misleading title.

Avatar image for hystavito
hystavito

@ObeseChipmunk: Well from that recent exchange with that other author I thought Rob wasn't "soft" heheh.

Avatar image for adsparky
adsparky

I still think there's a plan behind the Vita, It's getting support from third party developers specially japanese.

Avatar image for troll_elite
Troll_Elite

Load of crap. If great games were coming to the Vita we would see ports of Diablo 3, KOTR II, Skyrim, Fallout, Gran Turismo, Bioshock... I could go on, but suffice it to say - No, there are no great games coming to the Vita. It's hardware was designed to play AAA quality games, but Sony never did enough to get 3rd party AAA publishers and studios onboard when the system launched. As Sony should have learned from Nintendo 3DS by now, it's the games that sell the hardware, not the other way around.

Avatar image for The_Mystery_Box
The_Mystery_Box

I think the "still" in headline must be a typo, I dont recall a time there was good games on Vita

Avatar image for drocdoc
drocdoc

Yeah im sure they can find some more INDIE games to just port over.



Avatar image for flyincloud1116
Flyincloud1116

The most honest and Real gamer Exec in the industry.

Avatar image for hystavito
hystavito

@flyincloud1116: He is "cool" in the way he interacts with the public, hangs out for beers with Giantbomb :), and stuff like that.

Avatar image for i_p_daily
I_P_Daily

@flyincloud1116: Thanks for the laugh, just the thing I needed to start the day. All these gaming execs talk the PR bullshit all the time, this guy isn't any different.

Avatar image for flyincloud1116
Flyincloud1116

@i_p_daily: The laugh is on you clown, this guy isn't praising anything and he is a gamer. He called out the PS4 sparse first party holiday lineup and more. Where is the PR?

Avatar image for i_p_daily
I_P_Daily

@flyincloud1116: Did you not read the Vita part at all? he's propping up the Vita using 3rd party games, and said that basically the reason why they didn't show Vita stuff in their presentation was because people can only stay focused for 90 mins, which is BS.

Then there's the part where you say he's the most honest, well did you not read the Shenmue 3 part where he claims to not know exactly what's going with the deal. So either he's lying or he's a dumbarse for not knowing what's going on around him, i'll let you decide on that one.

ALL execs spin PR for their products, whether it's MS, Nintendo or Sony. Quit being a fanboy

As for him being a gamer, well good for him because he should play what he's paid to talk up.

Avatar image for flyincloud1116
Flyincloud1116

@i_p_daily: So basically, you are Sony insider now with knowledge of all things Sony. He may have been elusive, but he didn't spin anything.

Stop being a salty hater.

Avatar image for tronicmoose
TronicMoose

I am curious to know what these new online services are, and what new features are coming to the PS4.

Avatar image for yukushi
yukushi

Yoshida speaks all hail the great one.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@yukushi: I wouldn't be surprised if you had a shrine in your closet.

Avatar image for i_p_daily
I_P_Daily

@xenomorphalien: Anyone that uses someone else's name as their username is a stalker, and probably has fun with himself whenever he sees his picture, If you know what I mean lol.