We were recently given the opportunity to ask John Koller, Director of Hardware Marketing, SCEA some questions about the newest 250GB PS3 sku, digital distribution, a possible ‘Games on Demand’ type feature, and what kind of future plans Sony has stored for us throughout 2010 with the PlayStation Network. Backwards compatibility was one of the topics discussed and how Sony will treat PS2 titles for new Sony adopters. Much like Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony is heading into the new year with ambitions high for digital distribution.
1. At the start of this generation, Sony said that Microsoft’s approach with multiple skus would be confusing for customers and that Sony wouldn’t follow that pattern. Sony then followed with the same approach and launched the PS3 line with a 20GB and 60GB model of the PS3. We continue to see Sony release new PS3 skus virtually every year — with the most recent release being the PS3 250GB. Was releasing multiple PS3 skus that utilize more HDD space planned at the start of this generation or was it slowly adopted as digital distribution became more prominent?
John Koller: From the start, PS3 was designed to be more than just a video game system and as such we knew that different people were going to use it in different ways. And we are firm believers in listening to the PlayStation fanbase. As a device with a ten-year lifecycle, we knew that new features would be constantly added every year through firmware updates or new services like Netflix. We also have always said PS3 is proficient as a multimedia hub out of the box. As the amount and depth of digital content available through the PlayStation Network (PSN) continues to increase, we wanted to provide those who go beyond just saving games and DLC on their HDD with options to accommodate their growing digital content library. Digital content will undoubtedly continue to be on the rise and a larger hard drive fits our view of the future. Our goal is to provide options to users so that whatever their entertainment choices are next year or the year after, they’ll have the storage space to accommodate the way they want to use their system.
2. Digital distribution is likely the wave of the future for releasing micro-titles, old games like PSOne classics, and, eventually, all major releases. The PSPgo is solely reliant on digital distribution for content. What kind of challenges has the PSPgo given Sony on the content front? Whether it comes from timely releases, pricing, or deciding on how many previous PSP titles to release week to week.
John Koller: When you’re launching the first all-digital, full-game handheld entertainment system in PSPgo, the constant challenge is ensuring that there’s enough content for owners to download from PlayStation Network. Thankfully, we’ve met the challenge since the launch of PSPgo on October 1, when more than 225 downloadable games were available, in addition to thousands of movies and TV episodes. We currently have more than 300 downloadable PSP titles available on the PlayStation Network and that number will continue to grow in 2010, which speaks volumes of the legacy of the existing PSP library, as well as the quality of work that developers are putting out for PSP on a regular basis.
3. How will Sony attack digital distribution in 2010 and beyond? We have seen some major titles be released over PSN, like Siren: Blood Curse, Wipeout HD, and Warhawk. Will Sony offer more full PS3 titles over PSN in 2010? If so, when can we expect to see something like Microsoft’s ‘Xbox 360 Games on Demand’ feature on the PlayStation 3?
John Koller: Expansion of the PlayStation Network will be a critical part of what we focus on this year. Digital distribution is something that will continually evolve, and we have the perfect platform in PSN to evolve along with it. Last year, we saw a number of amazing original games on PSN like Flower, PixelJunk Shooter and Gravity Crash and you can expect to see more exclusive titles in 2010. We can also look forward to more classic PSOne games making resurgence through PSN. As for an “On Demand” model, we don’t have any plans to discuss at this time
4. Currently, Microsoft offers both Xbox originals and Xbox 360 games via the Xbox Live service. Sony has only made PSOne and a select few PS3 titles available through the PlayStation Store. With backwards compatibility now stripped from all PlayStation 3 models, will we ever see PS2 titles offered on PSN like PSOne games currently are?
John Koller: With the strength and volume of the rich PlayStation 2 lineup, there are obviously fans out there who would love to get their hands on these fan-favorite titles again. We don’t have any news to share on that front at the moment, but keep in mind that digital distribution isn’t the only way to bring classic PlayStation 2games over to PS3. God of War Collection is a great example of how technology like Blu-ray can be used to not only reintroduce PlayStation 2classics, but improve on them at the same time by adding new features like PSN Trophies, higher resolution textures, and increased frame rates – all on a single Blu-ray disc.
5. Both Nintendo and Microsoft offer a large range of digital distributed titles. With Microsoft having strong third-party ties and receiving some top-notch exclusives like Shadow Complex, while Nintendo is mostly dependant on classic titles. What kind of titles can we expect to see from Sony in 2010?
John Koller: You can bank on seeing more great digital content in 2010 from PSN, including great exclusive titles. PSN has really been hitting its stride and the amount of quality content available through the platform is staggering, from Hustle Kings, a realistic 3D pool game, to Echoshift, a strategy and puzzle game as well as many more. With the launch of Sodium, PlayStation Home’s first MMO, PlayStation Home further evolves into a true social gaming platform. Sodium One is an evolving massive combat game for the PlayStation 3 community that delivers immersive gameplay with visually stunning graphics. In addition, we will make even further strides with digital content through original programming and the expansion of Home in 2010.