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Gaming Interview

PS4 interview: Sony discusses release date, Vita discount at gamescom

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Sony's gamescom press conference saw it unveil a number of key partnerships, price cuts for the Vita and PS3, and of course, an all important release date for the PS4.

Digital Spy sat down with UK managing director Fergal Gara to discuss these announcements in more detail, what they mean for UK audiences and the plan for PS4 in the months leading up to launch.

The big announcement last night was the release date for the PS4. Why that period of time in November?
"It's always been the target month. We want to get out before Christmas, we thought this was the right year to get out, so personally I'm just delighted we've made the month and year we've wanted to make without a problem."

PlayStation 4 - first look at hardware in full

© Sony / PlayStation

PlayStation 4



Is there any particular reason why Europe has a two-week delay?
"It's simply round production, in which there's a finite factory output, so it's easier to phase it and therefore have healthy volumes in both regions. Put the initial slug into the US, and then it gives us an opportunity to catch up and have extra production ready for the European launch date."

You also announced a Vita price cut. Why is now a good time for that?
"Now would have been a good time anyway. One of the questions I've been asked today is, 'How does that relate to the PS4 agenda?' To be honest with you, I think it's just good coincidental timing, in that we always strived to bring down the price of our consoles over time and we've demonstrated that by the examples to date.

"Now was the time when we could engineer some cost out of it and get the price down. It just happens to be very nicely timed, A for Christmas, but B, it's companionship for PS4. It's just great that they fit together so nicely."

Have you announced how much lower Vita memory cards will be at this point?
"[Talking to PR] I don't think we've put that out, have we? I don't have the numbers in my head, but it's significant. It's several tens of percent, not a single digit percent tweak. It's not a tweak, it's a significant cut."

The new Crystal White PlayStation Vita

© Sony

PlayStation Vita



And are the Vita and PS3 price cuts effectively immediately?
"They're effective immediately."

Outside of the announcements, the most interesting aspect of the press conference was the opener, where you went through the PS4 menus. Why was it important to have that shown on stage?
"Well, don't forget the design principles around the PS4; about social integration and so forth, so the interface is probably one of the best demonstrations of that.

"My personal view is that the Cross Media Bar has well outlived its... it doesn't look new, fresh, contemporary any more.

"It's not really up to the demands of, particularly, the vision of the PS4, and therefore showing we have absolutely made a quantum leap in terms of our user interface and those design principles of PS4, and demonstrating them live on stage last night, for me, that was a really, really exciting way to start the show.

"Immediate jumping in and out of games, initiating multiplayer sessions, seeing what your friends are up to - all of that felt slick, quick and intuitive."

Will all that was shown in the conference there be day one features?
"I believe so, yes."


And was that performed live? Because obviously there's some considerable risk in doing that in front of a live audience.
"I believe it was, yeah. I'm lucky to have none of the pressure of the production of last night on myself, but I absolutely believe that was live.

"I have every reason to believe it was live, because I don't think the green screen for a few seconds was entirely planned! So there's loads of reasons to believe it was live."

You also announced a number of streaming services coming to the PS4. Will all those listed be day one services available at launch?
"The exact timing of what partnerships come to market we need to double check. But if you take the UK, for example, we announced a suite of BBC services, from iPlayer to BBC Sport, there was LoveFilm, Now TV and that's just the start.

"My stance on this is, we're going to have a rich set of services and they will continue to expand over time. We've also demonstrated new and different forms of partnerships, and I'm particularly excited by the broadband partnership.

"We say we're there for the gamer, the gamer is front and centre of what we want to do, and I saw some great examples of that last night. The broadband partnership was clearly around enhancing the gameplay experience.

'Call Of Duty: Ghosts' screenshot

© Activision

Call of Duty: Ghosts



"But secondly, things like the transition journey from PS3 to PS4. There will have been, up until last night, some gamers who sat there thinking, 'Call of Duty Ghosts is out PS4, what do I do?' and the kudos of that game in particular of your achievements is something you don't want to wait a couple of weeks for.

"We've offered people the upgrade path for a modest fee. I think it's another very much gamer-focused policy piece of tech we've been able to bring to market, and it enables publishers to bring their current gen gamers onto the next gen."

There will be a discounted price of the PS4 version when you make the jump. Can you say any more on how much that will be?
"The publisher gets to define that, actually. What will happen is, the PS4 digital file will be made available on the PlayStation Store - as it would be anyway - at launch, and the PS3 discs will be sold through retail.

"What the consumer can then do, for a premium to be defined by the publisher, is access the PS4 digital game and then provided they still have the PS3 disc, they will be able to play the PS4 version when they decide to buy the next gen."

"Time window and price window has yet to be defined. Time window is probably more business policy for PlayStation, perhaps, but the premium will be defined by the publisher."

PS4 reveal: New PlayStation 4 console controller

© Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation 4



What does the broadband partnership with Virgin Media mean in practical terms for consumers?
"There's plenty more to be fleshed out on it, but I think the core principles underlining it are that we're better together, the experience will be better using high end broadband services, of which Virgin is undoubtedly one of the key providers in that space.

"I think it's a good brand match, and it's all about the gameplay experience. What Jim [Ryan] said last night is we're talking about preserving chunks of their bandwidth for gameplay and putting that as high priority traffic, which is about reducing latency and improving that speed of response in multiplayer, and also the speed of the download for digital games, because while downloading console games is very viable today, they're still big files.

"The PS4 takes that agenda forward significantly in two ways. First of all, the partnerships will help, but secondly, you don't need the complete file to start the gameplay experience. Play as you download is a very exciting development.

"So you can see together how we create a new digital infrastructure for the future. Where we start and where it may grow as a partnership will be interesting, but there're the guiding principles to get us going."

PlayStation 4 - first look at hardware in full

© Sony / PlayStation

PlayStation 4



Now you've announced the release date as late November, can you discuss how you'll market and promote the device in the months coming up to launch?

"Demand is already high, so in a way all we need to do is continue what we've been doing, which is explain what it is, just continue to flesh out the story, and that will do a significant job.

"But it is a big and enormously important launch for us. This is a comeback moment for PlayStation - particularly in the UK, there's a huge groundswell of pre-orders towards us, so it's appropriate that we treat is an important and epic launch.

"Expect us to push the PS4 everywhere, really. Expect us to be in new media, in all media, and strong at retail - expect us to cover all the bases in a comprehensive manner. We're writing the detail out, pinning that down now, and putting the final shapes on that. It will be a multi-dimensional launch appropriate to the importance of the device."

The PlayStation 4 will be available on November 29 in Europe and November 15 in North America.

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