Tretton Talks MS: “We’ve Sold the Same, if not More”, “We’re Trying to Say We’re All About the Gamers”

With everyone gearing up for the next big console war, tensions are rising between Microsoft and Sony.

AllthingsD asked Sony Computer Entertainment America’s President and CEO Jack Tretton about the Xbox 360’s lead in the US, and its multimedia focus. His reply, viewable below, seems like a perfect response to previous comments by Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, who said that the PlayStation 3 “isn’t as good of an entertainment console” as the 360 something apparently “everybody knows.” Tretton mentioned how the PS3 has caught up with the 360 in sales (worldwide) despite its launch problems, the fact that the PS3 is the most popular Netflix device and that Sony’s focus is gaming:

We look at the market in worldwide terms, and every market is extremely important to us. The facts are, we debuted the PlayStation 3 at $599, which was an extremely steep price barrier for a lot of consumers. And we debuted a year after Microsoft, but on a worldwide basis, we’ve sold the same, if not more, devices. I think we’re at 77 million sold right now — it’s basically splitting hairs. Despite all that, our message has been extremely well-received around the world.

Plus, if you look at multimedia services, we’re the No. 1 streaming device when it comes to Netflix, not Xbox. They’re trying to — I don’t really know what they’re trying to do. I’d rather not comment on their strategy. But we’re trying to say we’re all about the gamers and, by the way, there’s multimedia out there. I think the people who tuned in to see this live streaming event, from all around the world, were watching to see the gaming.

It’s Tretton’s comments on Sony’s strategy going forward that is most interesting. Microsoft has repeatedly hyped up the multimedia functions of the 360, and how it is the ultimate entertainment device, with many feeling this focus came at the detriment of core gaming. One of the key engineers in charge of Microsoft’s original Xbox development team, Nat Brown, recently attacked the company as he feels that their core product has been abandoned:

My gripe, my head-smack, is not that the broader content/entertainment business isn’t where you want to go with a living-room-connected device. It absolutely is. Indeed, this was the point of xBox, that was why it was the Trojan horse for the living room, where we could land and be welcomed by millions of console customers with more hardware and better software and network connectivity than the non-console devices (webtv, cable set-tob-boxes) we had been pursuing. No, more and better content was always the point and the plan. My gripe is that, as usual, Microsoft has jumped its own shark and is out stomping through the weeds planning and talking about far-flung future strategies in interactive television and original programming partnerships with big dying media companies when their core product, their home town is on fire, their soldiers, their developers, are tired and deserting, and their supply-lines are broken.

When the PS3 launched, Sony suffered similar problems when trying to advertise the device. They wanted people to see it as a “Computer Entertainment Device” that could do anything, but quickly realized that the lack of focus was more confusing and off-putting than beneficial. Equally, whenever Sony spends too much time showing off new apps in conferences, the complaints are immediate.

The strategy of “all about the gamers and, by the way, there’s multimedia out there” does seem like the most promising one for gamers, although Sony will certainly have to put their money where their mouth is and continue to announce a bunch of exclusive games.

The person that leaked many of the PS4 details that were confirmed yesterday also said that the PS4 would have less RAM dedicated to OS and multimedia applications, while the 720 will have far more. What do you think? Do you want an all-round-awesome-box or a console that put games first and foremost?

Let us know in the comments below.