What’s Next for Playstation 4 and Sony with John Koller
Steve Masters: The PlayStation 4 was the #1 requested item for Christmas this year. First, let me say congratulations on that!
John Koller: Yeah, thank you very much! It’s been a tremendous launch. I think the demand has been absolutely exceptional.
Steve Masters: What do you think caused casual consumers to want PlayStation 4 the most? Is there anything that sticks out, as far as any feedback you’re getting from regular consumers, as what was the one thing they wanted?
John Koller: Just to start off, I think we look at things a little less binary than just hardcore and casual. I think that there’s just this large cross section of gamers that were waiting for next gen and had been waiting for next gen gaming for some time. When we announced PS4 at the beginning of last year and then went into all of the great content announcements and feature announcements through the middle part of last year, we really saw a run up of demand that was far beyond what even we expected and it was fantastic because you start to see more and more people come over to console gaming and really want to be a part of a movement. We’ve been very overt in saying that we want to stand with gamers, and for gamers, of all kinds and persuasions. So if you look at the opportunity of the PlayStation 4, there’s a whole bunch of different ways to play, you know, one of the big areas that I think received a lot of the attention is the sharing. The social ability, the streaming components that really allows you to celebritize yourself as a gamer, no matter what type of gamer you are. I think that’s a really good example of how we tried to bring in a wide cross section of gamers and it’s so far, it’s been spectacularly successful.
Steve Masters: What are PS4 users sharing?
John Koller: We did want to provide the opportunity to celebritize themselves and our goal was to make it around gaming content that people could showcase a headshot, or showcase a great touchdown catch, or a goal in FIFA, or whatever it might be, so that was the goal on that and still continues to this day. But I think the thing that’s been interesting to watch is how many people are watching these live streams. Primarily gaming content, but we’ve also seen a lot more radio shows or conversations about gaming and these kinds of things that show how engaged that people are. And to your earlier point, you know that’s where a lot of the non-hardcore gamers subscribe to. They want to see what makes gaming so fun and so engaging, so I think that’s been a really big part of the movement.
Steve Masters: Let’s get into some of the other apps people are looking for and a heads up into when they might be implemented, like YouTube, HBO Go, and any of the other apps that people are looking forward to that aren’t on PlayStation 4 yet that you guys are working on getting soon?
(HBO CEO Richard Plepler announced last week that HBO and PlayStation have partnered to offer HBO GO app − first on PlayStation 3, with PlayStation 4 to follow.)
John Koller: This is actually a great area to look at because we’ve been very focused on, “for the gamer, by the gamer, for the game developer, by the game developer” and we want to make sure that is viewed not only through the gaming content lenses but also what is of the most interest to gamers in general. They’re very interested in apps like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. We wanted to get as many as those types of apps as possible to go on day 1, and so when the usage rates behind something like a Netflix, you know Netflix is a spectacularly successful app for us in general on PlayStation. PlayStation 3 is actually the number one box for Netflix. We have a number of plans to get apps that gamers are asking for. Without going into firm detail, we there are lots of plans to have new apps. I will say that though that we are very curated in our approach. We don’t want to go down the path of opening this up to every kind of app. We don’t want to be a house for billions of apps and video services and what not. We have, I think, a really clear strategy to ensure that what the gamers are most asking for that we’ll provide and that will be our strategy throughout.
Steve Masters: Is YouTube coming sometime in the future?
John Koller: We’ve looked at a variety of services. Certainly there’s been a lot of discussions around a lot of different video applications, so I’ll leave it there, but going in to what our gamers use and apply is what we really want to try to bring to the platform.
Steve Masters: Do you have a time table as to when you’re going to announce new apps?
John Koller: We do it throughout, so there’s certainly great times to do that but as we are able to bring some of these to market we will certainly announce them at that time.
Steve Masters: We’ve been hearing a lot about PS Now. I think that’s in beta now, right?
John Koller: It going into beta at the end of the month.
Steve Masters: I’ve read a little bit about it. Is it going to be a subscription like PS Plus? Tell us a little bit about how that’s going to work.
John Koller: The business model is still being worked on and it’ll be tested throughout the beta period. It consists of both a rental model and a subscription model. Still looking into pricing, still looking at the timing, still looking at the games. What we spoke about at CES is, when you look at content, we want to bring as much as we can from the PlayStation 3 library initially as possible and that’s really the goal. There’s such a wealth of games and genres and it’s just a diverse gaming platform, so we’re excited about that. We did announced that it’ll come to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita, and Bravia TVs as well as in the future tablets and smart phones. I think one of the interesting things that people picked up on is that there a few things that I named that are not PlayStation platforms and that’s by design. We think that there’s a real opportunity to bring our content to a wide range of devices and that’s our goal.
Steve Masters: So what you’re saying is that I can plug a controller into the USB port in my Bravia TV and through PlayStation Now play a PlayStation game without having a console?
John Koller: That’s right. That’s the idea exactly and it’ll to come to market that way. We talked about a summer launch. We haven’t gotten in to exactly when that will be. We’ll need to look at the results from this beta and firm up a lot of these open questions. It’s certainly an exciting initiative and when you look at the opportunities around streaming, it solves one of those problems we’ve had in our area of gaming and it’s our immediacy because people just want to get in and play. We haven’t always made it easy, as an industry, for consumers to get in and play, so what PlayStation Now does is it really provides that low latency, very quick experience to get into a PlayStation 3 game.
Steve Masters: Do you have any idea when you’ll announce the pricing?
John Koller: We don’t have any plans in terms as when we’ll formally announce that. We need to go through this beta period first.
Steve Masters: Will it also work if you are playing with a Dualshock 3 controller on a Sony tablet?
John Koller: We did announce that we would be bringing it to tablets and smart phones. We didn’t get into the types of tablets and smart phones that we’d be bringing it to. PlayStation Now would need a Dualshock 3 to play PlayStation 3 games unless you’re on a Vita.
Steve Masters: Next subject: the PlayStation Camera, the camera that came with the PlayStation 4. Why should consumers buy the PlayStation Camera and what games or feature will they be using it for?
John Koller: The primary usage that people are using it for is streaming and commentary and all those sorts of things. Again, celebritizing themselves by utilizing the camera. I think that in the longer term view that we have is that there are a wide range of uses and certainly gaming is a part of that and I think there’s a real wealth of games just in general coming for PlayStation 4, but certainly there’s some very good camera based usage games coming as well. There’s a number of different ways and reasons to purchase but, right now people are really getting into it because of the streaming component.
Steve Masters: Any games in particular that might use that as a primary function that you might have in the future?
John Koller: We’ve have a few that we talked about. We had one we announced at E3 a year or two ago called Dream and we think that the camera is something that many developers are quite interested in. The idea of motion gaming is evolving a bit. We had the PlayStation Move and Microsoft and Nintendo certainly had their efforts behind motion gaming. What we’ve looked at is how can you integrate camera technologies and motion technologies in a way that consumers have never seen before. That’s our goal moving forward with it.
Steve Masters: Speaking of the Move, is it dead? Are you guys developing for it anymore? I don’t know if sales were successful, but I really enjoyed the Sports Champion series. I thought it was really cool.
John Koller: I wouldn’t call it dead, as with any platform or device, you need to fuel it with right type of development and the right types of games, so certainly I think that a strong set of games that are available as well as others that we’ve talked about publicly that would be coming. The way we look at the evolution of motion gaming is deeply engrained in how to bring camera technology into the development process. That is what I think you’ll see as the change in both Move as well as the PlayStation 4 Camera as we move forward. It’s kind of the different ways to develop for it and it is exciting. Those will be announced as we go, and as games are announced publicly. There’s a lot of good innovation being done around camera technology.
Steve Masters: So we shouldn’t throw away our Move wands?
John Koller: Yeah, don’t throw them away.
Steve Masters: Was the PlayStation 4 Camera built to utilize the Move in the future?
John Koller: It’s compatible.
Steve Masters: What about a cool little chat clip-on keyboard for our PlayStation 4 controllers like we had for our PlayStation 3 controllers?
John Koller: Is that something you would like?
Steve Masters: Yes.
John Koller: We hear that a lot. We need to look at these types of things as we hear from good gamers like you about that. There’s really nothing to announce here and there’s nothing really formal to talk to you other than we’ve heard loud and clear since launch that it’s something that a lot of gamers want.
Steve Masters: Awesome, so that means, yes, you’re going to make one.
John Koller: [laughs] I’m not saying that, I’m just saying that we’re listening. We listen very closely when PS4 owners tell us about items like this.
Steve Masters: I just registered for E3 today. What can you tell us about Sony’s booth that’s going to blow everybody away? What is going to be big at E3 this year for Sony?
John Koller: It’s going to be a massive content year. We’ve talked publically that there’s a huge and significant amount of games coming this year to the PlayStation 4. We’ll be showing a lot of those and it is going to be an exciting moment for many people. I can officially confirm that what is coming next is really spectacular. The types of games that are coming are absolutely fantastic. We’ve already talked about some of these already, but games like Destiny, which is the game from Bungie that is really going to be a show piece as to what makes the PlayStation 4 so special. There’s a lot of innovation. That’s something that we really want to push. The PlayStation 4 is really the strong innovation engine for this category and this industry. There’s certainly a lot to talk about there. So E3 is going to be fun this year. This is going to be one of those, you know, years where we’re going to have a fun time showing new games to the world.
Steve Masters: I’ve heard about the new Uncharted game for the PlayStation 4. What can you tell us about it?
John Koller: Well we did announce that a new Uncharted game is coming. We announced that on launch night actually. It’s Uncharted for PS4, but we haven’t announced many details, so that may be an interesting thing to tune in for at E3.
Steve Masters: MLB The Show is the next big game for you guys. You are now the sole MLB game guys. You are the only ones putting out a new MLB game this year.
John Koller: Yeah.
Steve Masters: So tell us what new innovations we can expect to see out on the virtual baseball diamond?
John Koller: What you’re going to see is that the next gen version of MLB. The MLB The Show games have been really a spectacular product for us. It’s going to be everything people wanted and more and that’s the theatrical level on people’s big screens of baseball video games. I also want to note that not only do we have MLB The Show coming but in that window we also have Infamous: Second Son and that’s going to be a really massive game launch that’s coming from Sucker Punch Studios, one of our studios here at PlayStation. So we’ve got a nice Spring coming up for PlayStation 4 gamers.
Steve Masters: Quickly give us a synopsis on Infamous: Second Son if you will.
John Koller: Infamous is a game that I think a lot of people are going to be really interested in. It utilizes a lot of the features that make PlayStation 4 special. It follows an individual that has powers that you need to decide whether you use them for right or for wrong. There’s a whole moralistic quality to it but the way it utilizes the Dualshock controller as well as a sharing functionality and other pieces..it is really great. We’ve been showing it quite a bit at a lot of events, and there’s been a lot of excitement. There’s been a lot of people trying to jump in and preorder it early so they make sure to get theirs. It’s coming in March, so a lot to look forward to.
Steve Masters: What about the availability for PlayStation 4? Has it solved itself? Has it caught up with demand?
John Koller: No, we still have demand far outstripping supply and I think we’re doing everything we can to bring in regular shipments of PlayStation 4s and are doing so. Many of your listeners and readers are probably aware that there’s a certain time each week when PlayStation 4s are available at their local retailers. We are certainly doing that on a weekly basis, but demand is still exceptional. Demand has been great for us but we need to make sure that everyone who wants a PlayStation 4 can get one. The fact that the PlayStation 4 is held in such high regard by such a cross section of gamers is fantastic. We’re going to be getting as many units as possible to market as possible as soon as we can.
Steve Masters: Any final thoughts that you have on Vita? I love my Vita. The last game I played on it, all the way to the end, was Gravity Rush, which is amazing. Is there anything like that game coming up for Vita? Something that is going to blow people away this year like that game did for me?
John Koller: Yeah, I heard you were a big Vita fan, so that’s great. Thank you for that, but also you know Vita has done very very well since the PlayStation 4 launch. People are starting to use it for things like Remote Play, which allows you to play PlayStation 4 games on your Vita via wi-fi. If you combine that, with things like PlayStation Now, you can play PlayStation 3 games on your Vita and utilize that brilliant screen. We’ve got a lot of titles from third party publishers as well as titles from us and it’s an exciting time to be a Vita owner because you get to play a cross section of the best games from across the PlayStation universe, so that makes it really special and a great portable device to boot.
Steve Masters: Can you list a few titles that utilize the Remote play?
John Koller: I think a good one that a lot of people like to showcase is Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. If any of your listeners or readers owns that game for PlayStation 4, I urge them to try that game on Vita. It is unbelievable and looks very, very good. The brilliance of those graphics shows up well on the well-lit screen of the Vita. I would encourage that one as a first choice, but I think there’s plenty of others depending on the type of gamer you are and it just makes for a really good experience. You may not always have access to the main TV in your house and even be in your home. With Vita, you now have access to your content.
Steve Masters: So you only need the PlayStation disk in your PS4 and nothing special for your Vita?
John Koller: That’s right. You need a good wi-fi connection, but that’s really it. You pair them and away you go. It really a great technology and it’s built to the system of PlayStation 4 to marry with the Vita.
Steve Masters: I can’t wait to give that a try, I’m sure it’s a blast. I know your time is up, but is there anything that you wanted to say or that I missed?
John Koller: No, I just think this year it’s starting off great for PlayStation. We’ve got a lot of great announcements still to come. I think the rest of this year is going to prove great as well, so a lot of great things to look forward to. I’ll say that to anybody in line or thinking about getting a PlayStation 4 or owns one now, the promise of what’s to come, which is what we always care about the most, the game quality and the game development that’s in line is really, really great, and we’ll have a lot more announcements in the upcoming months.