The president of SCE Worldwide Studios talks indie games, E3 and the future of PlayStation.
Where does E3 2013 rank for you in terms of impact?
It's amazing. I've been with PlayStation since the very beginning of the project in 1993 and some people reminded me of the way the passion and the vibe in the press conference was like the very first E3 in 1995, when we introduced the original PlayStation. Steve Race, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America at the time, just walked up onto the stage and said "$299" for the price, and the audience went crazy. And I agree – I remember that energy and excitement. We are so excited that all the plans we worked on leading up to this year are coming together. We feel like what we have designed and aimed for are really connecting with people, and that's great.
How did it feel being up there showing off the games that are developed by SCE Worldwide Studios to the world?
I was proud to be a part of this very important press conference. When we started planning for E3, honestly I thought there were people who would present better as the show was to be done in English. But when I spoke with the SCEA PR team, they said, "You have to do it. People want to hear from you as the head of Worldwide Studios." Everyone is working so hard to get PS4 into the market that I felt enormous responsibility to show the best of what people are doing from the software standpoint. I wanted to get that message across.
What kind of feedback do you get from the development teams about working with PlayStation 4?
I don't have to ask for this feedback, they just tell me. They are so happy that they can just focus on the games. They don't have to spend so much time trying to understand the hardware. The progress that all teams have made is great. That's a consistent message that I get. Many of the team members of the studios were already involved in the discussion of what PS4 should be, what DUALSHOCK 4 should be in terms of improvement from DUALSHOCK 3.
I get the feeling when I talk to the teams that there's a real sense of pride that they are now using the system they helped to design. They have a genuine passion for showing why PS4 is so special for playing games on. We can show the best of PS4 through our games.
With PlayStation Vita there's a sense of immediacy; you can put a game down and come back to it later on...
It's the same philosophy with PS4. We all love this immediacy and the seamless experience, and in many ways PS Vita is the inspiration for many of the features that we have incorporated into the PS4 system software designs. Actually, because it is the same group of people involved in designing PS Vita and PS4, PS Vita was almost like preliminary work and PS4 is the continuation of that. It's an evolution of the thinking of a home console, especially on the networked services side. So yes, we like the immediacy, and the expectation of the gamer is that all devices should be like that. We are working hard to achieve that.
Why is it so important to support independent game developers?
Because independent developers are making great, awesome games! Their passion, creativity and energy are at an all-time high. We expect that to continue, the reason being many indie studios are not brand new to the industry; they are often very experienced and have worked on many, many games over a number of years at larger studios. And they might think, "I want to make this game, this idea, for me," but it can be difficult to achieve within a larger team.
Because of the advances in digital platforms, now it's possible for small teams to create games and make a success of them all over the world. That's where the energy and some of the most exciting experiments and concepts are. Some of the best examples are last year's award winners, Journey and The Walking Dead. Both were digitally distributed and were made by small development teams. They competed with games with the biggest production values and they won. It's so important for us to be supportive of that on PS4, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.
That creativity you talk about must then feed back into the teams under the SCE Worldwide Studios umbrella?
Absolutely. We have larger teams and we also work with external developers and producers who cultivate close links with the smaller teams. When they see something amazing that is being developed, that inspires our teams as well. Larger teams sometimes find it better to stick with proven themes, but once a smaller developer shows something can be done, that really fires the other teams up – they want to outdo them.
Visit eu.playstation.com/ps4/games to take a closer look at the games coming to PS4 and keep an eye on eu.playstation.com for part two of our exclusive interview with Shuhei Yoshida.