Phil Harrison on 1080p, TGS games, Microsoft, and Blu-ray.Jack Tretton discusses corporate strategies.
In the past few years Phil Harrison seems to have become the public face of the PlayStation, appearing at practically every conference and usually appearing as the most approachable of the company’s spokespeople. He does come in for some stick from certain corners, but for the most part he says what needs to be said. And you wouldn’t argue with a 6 foot 7 inch tall Brit would you? 😉
In his latest interview at TGS with GamePro Harrison is faced with a few tricky questions, but answers with aplomb, providing some interesting new details:
#Sony went “radio silent” after E3 and kept the development of PS3 titles out of the public eye to make the improvements at TGS as clear as possible. Harrison also notes that what was shown at TGS isn’t simply “it”, and that there are more refinements and improvements to come from PS3 titles.
#Harrison again points out the the PS3 is the only console capable of TrueHD (no longer true, but you can understand his confusion- Microsoft’s conference was almost as odd as Sony’s in that respect), but also goes on to remind the interviewer that a nameless competitor remarked that there would be no 1080p games on the PS3 this year so that’s why they made such a big play of it. Harrison actually believes that certain games look better at 720p depending on their style and design. I suppose this highlights the choice available to developers though.
#The conversation turns corporate and Harrison addresses the question of arrogance and what makes Sony standout from Microsoft. He firstly makes it clear that Sony does read feedback (in forums and newsgroups) from its millions of users and fans who want the company to do a good job with their products. Harrison also praises the input of other companies supporting the console. Harrison goes on to highlight that Sony’s internal development studios, according to Merryll Lynch, are as large as Microsoft and Nintendo’s. Combined. That encompases 14 studios and 2200 people, sharing common technology and tools to the benefit of Sony’s platform; Harrison is the boss of this division. He also praises Ken Kuturagi as a challenging visionary and highlights the role PlayStation 3 has a as a multi-function device so that people can get more out of the system.
#Harrison makes it clear we ought to expect PS3 software functionality to grow over time as it has on the PSP through firmware upgrades. He also addresses the issue of hardware upgrades (extra RAM and so on), saying that if Sony was to go down this route they would guarantee nobody would get left behind.
#Finally Harrison picks a last question from the journalist’s notebook, addressing the Blu-ray drive. He emphasises that its inclusion was purely a game based decision and that using it for movie playback is subordinate. He again mentions Resistance’s 20GB+ size and warns that they will be pushing the 50GB by the end of the PS3’s lifespan. To be fair we’ve seen both arguements for and against the inclusion of the Blu-ray drive, but I’m steadily coming around to thinking that Blu-ray will really begin to shine later on in this generation and present some big advantages making it well worth the money.
In a separate interview SCEA’s Jack Tretton discusses where Sony stands in the games industry as of now (how well the PSP is doing in the States relative to the DS- the figures confirm it has sold better over a shoter period of time, despite now been behind following the DSLite’s release- and how Microsoft is under performing with the 360). Both parts contain bits of controversy, but its worth remembering this stuff is for the benefit of the games industry and not focused on us so much. In that vein however at the end of the interview Tretton re-iterates Sony will not be forced into using rumble by Immersion and that developers have responded more postively to Sony’s open network than Microsoft’s closed one. It’s a very interesting read!