Shuhei Yoshida: PlayStation’s Changing Views on Mobiles, Free Knack Puzzle Game, Vita’s Future

Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sebastian’s Heart, has talked about handhelds being adversely affected by the mobile phone market, but he went into further detail with GI.Biz, discussing how handhelds and mobile phones/tablets can co-exist:

What we’re saying now is that we’ve totally changed our approach to mobile products like smartphones and tablets. In the past, we felt like these guys were competition to our portable games in general, but now, everyone owns these smartphones and tablets. It’s like everyone had a PC before – it’s a tool that people use every day. Why not try to include them in the PlayStation ecosystem? Not that we’re releasing lots of games on these mobile products, but to somehow push our PlayStation information to these devices that people already use every day.

Lots of people don’t seek out game-specific info – they’re busy. But because they use social network services, App Stores… Let’s push our info to them. That’s why we are creating the hook, releasing the official PlayStation apps on Android and iOS at the launch of PS4. That has many functions – if you own a PS4, it’s your connection to your own games or console, or your PlayStation Network community. Even if you don’t own a PS4, it can be a way to find out what’s happening in the PlayStation world, or you could use these devices as an input device for PS4.

Shuhei continued on by revealing that a free Knack-themed puzzle game is on its way:

We’ve totally shifted our way of thinking. Through the companion apps, the official PlayStation app and game dedicated apps… In some cases, we’re creating small games that go with PS4 titles. We’re releasing a puzzle game themed around Knack that you can play for free. It’s fun, and by playing the game you earn some items that you can use on PS4. People might be motivated, because they’ve already unlocked some items, to take a look at what this Knack game on the PS4 is all about.

That’s the much broader approach that we’re taking, trying to embrace mobile products. It’s totally different from PlayStation Mobile – we’ll continue to support that, but more as the entry SDK for people who are less professional… We talk about indies for PS4 and PS Vita, and those people typically have many years of experience of making games somewhere very professional, of making professional-quality games, but they still have to go through a developer contract, purchase a development kit and SDK. For PS Mobile, you don’t need any dedicated hardware. You just download the SDK, just click certain buttons and now you can develop games on PlayStation. In that way, we believe that has a purpose. These are two different activities.

While the mobile market has hurt the Vita, Shuhei also brought up the 3DS’ high install base in Japan, to which he was asked how they plan on catching up to Nintendo’s handheld:

We don’t necessarily talk about catching up to the 3DS – but we’d like to increase the installed base of PS Vita. For us to be able to provide better hardware, in our mind, the new PS Vita is slimmer and lighter, easier to hold, has some internal memory from the get-go, so it’s a bit more value, but the important thing is to continue to provide great games and game experiences. The games can come not only from PS Vita’s dedicated games – Vita and PS4 are designed with each other in mind, to connect to each other. If you own a PS4, you can play PS4 games via remote play, and once we start the Gaikai service, you’ll be able to play PS3 games on PS Vita. We continue to add our services on PlayStation, and for PS Vita, the enjoyment and the sources of games will expand, not just from PS Vita dedicated games. Those are the strengths that we have on PS Vita compared to other products – it’s a device that you can use to enjoy PlayStation content from different sources.

As for the PlayStation Vita 2000, Shuhei confirmed that they plan to sell the 1000 (at least in Japan) after the thinner Vita launches “because the new Vita is Wi-Fi only. For the 3G version, we’ll continue [the old model]. By focusing on Wi-Fi, we were able to make the engineering much easier.”

Also, Shuhei confirmed on Twitter that the PS3 Blu-Ray remote won’t work with the PS4.

Do you think the PS Vita will ever catch up to the 3DS in Japan? Let us know in the comments below.