Yoshida: We Never Took the Xbox One Lightly, “We are the Challenger” in USA, Don’t Know if PS3 Will Last Another 5 Years

Finishing up the lengthy interview between GI.Biz and Shuhei Yoshida, the subject of E3 was brought up, where the interviewer mentioned the poor Xbox One showing and how there was no competition, to which Shuhei said, “No no no. We had great competition. Great!” When he told Shuhei it was great competition “for you,” Shuhei responded with:

From our standpoint, yes… [laughs]

I’m half-joking but half-serious. It’s always great to have two companies fighting each other. People like it; it creates a news story. The games media will cover any platform launch, but the general media – a big Sony versus Microsoft battle is a bigger story. Microsoft launching Xbox One in the same year, the same Christmas – people compare them, lots of news stories are written.

Going a little further into detail, Shuhei talked about how the people at Microsoft were smart to change many of their unpopular Xbox One policies in their journey to make the new console successful:

We never took them lightly. Especially in the States, we are the challenger – we’re trying to compete with them. Some of the messaging that they stumbled on just gave us more chances to compete with them in the States. Other markets are very different – in Europe, we have a larger market share and in Japan, we have a much longer history of being here. Being consistent and persistent helps; the legacy and people’s associations with the brand, their memories of having a great time before.

Something that can be a weakness but can be a very strong asset for the PlayStation team is the management team that we have. Many of us in key positions have gone through all the transitions from the launch of PS1. Andrew House, Jack Tretton, myself and many of the executives were all there at the beginning. We’ve gone through great times and pretty difficult times together. I’ve never worked for another company, so I can just imagine, but we have a very efficient way of discussing issues and being open and honest. We make quick decisions when necessary, and that’s something that’s very fresh to me.

Now, because we work closely with Sony, many people are actually joining SCE headquarters from Sony. The number of smart people on the Sony electronics side is amazing – but all of them who join SCE say that they are amazed by how focused we are on the issues. We have meetings where we just jump onto the issues, make decisions and move on. That’s very different from the Sony side, according to them. That history of us working through all the PlayStations of the last 20 years together – including Mark Cerny, who’s not a Sony person but has always worked together with us – really helps us, I think, whether we’re crafting messages or making sure that everyone knows what other parts of PlayStation are doing.

When the PS4 does come out this November, the PS3 will still have a strong slate of titles to look forward to from third-party publishers in 2013 (Watch Dogs, South Park: The Stick of Truth) and Gran Turismo 6 from Sony, with many third-party PS3 games coming out in 2014, though many are cross generational. Shuhei spoke about whether they have a plan to support the PS3 in the future:

We’ll see. There’s still a lot of price difference in terms of the hardware and the games, and PS3 has been doing great – but it’s not like everyone owns a PS3 already. There’s always a group of consumers who come late in the cycle, people who wait for the price to come down. We’re expanding geographically as well. The demand from Latin America, for example, is really really strong for PS3. So we’ll have a parallel strategy with PS3 and PS4, like we had between PS2 and PS3. PS3 was launched in 2006, in the sixth year of PS2, but PS2 lasted for another five years. I don’t know if PS3 will last another five years – but definitely for the next couple of years, because of the price difference, the great library of games and the publisher side being able to support both.

Finally, with Fergal Gara already talking about how Sony won’t be publishing first-party retail titles for PS3 and PS4, Shuhei addressed the status of their first-party studios:

Our large teams are shifting, transitioning from PS3 to PS4, and continuing on Vita as well. But for our digital releases, we always look at PS4, PS3 and Vita. Many games like Hohokum or Doki Doki Universe we have announced for PS3 and PS4 at the same time. We’ll continue to support PS3 in a way that makes sense, especially the digital games that we work on – but our large teams, our AAA release teams, are transitioning from PS3 to PS4.

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