Phil Harrison, VP of studios for Sony Computer Entertainment, has critisized Microsoft's recent decision to launch two different versions of
their forthcoming Xbox 360.
Microsoft recently announced that the Xbox 360 Core System, which does not
include a hard disk, will retail for GBP 209.99 at launch. For GBP 279.99,
consumers will be able to purchase a console with a 20GB hard disk,
wireless controller, Xbox Live Silver membership, HD-AV cable and
Speaking at the European Game Developers' Conference today in London,
Harrison warned that Microsoft was risking confusing prospective
customers. "Are there two versions of the Xbox 360 that people want to
buy", is my question,' he enquired. 'I don't know. This is my personal
view, not my corporate view, but when I look at those formats, I think it
just confuses the audience. They don't know which one to buy, developers
don't know which one to create for, and retailers don't know which one to
This led directly on to the issue of whether Sony would pursue a similar
policy for the PlayStation 3, which is expected to launch in Spring 2006.
'I don't think we would take that strategy. We wouldn't want to create
confusion,' said Harrison, before rather confusingly adding, 'There have
been various versions and variants of PlayStations in the past - some run
through the hardware and some through the software, and that's worked
pretty well for us, offering different value propositions to the consumer.
Exactly what we do with the launch of the PS3? It's too early to tell.'
Uhm, that's all clear, then.
However, he later praised Microsoft for the Xbox Live Service when he
admitted that, 'Microsoft has done a lot of things right, and there are
certainly things that are going to form the model for many of the high
quality consumer experiences that we will deliver with PS3.' And just as
you thought he was being nice: 'But I think our role is always to go
beyond, to push further.'
Nintendo also received some praise from Harrison: 'I briefly played
Nintendogs at E3 and I think it's absolutely fantastic. I'm very admiring
of what Nintendo have done with that game. I would love for us to go and
create that kind of immersion for a game on the PSP.'
On that subject,
Harrison was keen to underline how Sony were committed to the development
of innovative software, announcing that, 'We do have the privilege of
being the platform holder, and of having the opportunity and, I think, the
responsibility to invest in more esoteric titles. We have to continue to
put creativity and innovation first, otherwise we will turn into a
formulaic industry and consumers will go elsewhere.'
Harrison was also defensive of the launch line-up of Sony's PSP handheld,
which has been criticised for containing too many ports of older games, as
well a few too many racing titles. 'Don't judge the life of the format on
the first games that come out for it - remember we launched PS2 with
Fantavision. Although it's a lovely piece of software, it's by no means
the software that will define the format. I think it's natural that when a
format first comes out, the games that you make are the games that you
know how to make, because you only have a limited amount of time to make
them," Harrison continued. 'Then, the next games to come out on the
platform are where the innovation starts to happen. We're doing some
things internally and I know a lot of people externally are too. We're
really starting to see that innovation coming through on PSP, and it will
certainly come through on PS3.'
Unsurprisingly, Harrison declined to comment on a possible price point for
the PS3, telling the audience: "It would be foolish of me to make any
comments about pricing at this early stage."