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Sony: "It's not the decline of consoles, it's the decline of a generation"

Sony: "It's not the decline of consoles, it's the decline of a generation"

Thu 27 Jun 2013 11:55am GMT / 7:55am EDT / 4:55am PDT
BusinessDevelopment

Shuhei Yoshida adamant consoles can still innovate in a world of pioneering mobile and business disruption

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

Console manufacturer Sony is convinced that home hardware can still innovate in the games business, rather than follow the lead of the disruptive technology and business models pioneered by mobile and free-to-play games companies.

"After you see sequels to the same three games people feel like they've seen everything before. That's natural, but that's nothing like the end of the consoles"

The console market has suffered decline particularly during the past three years, with a thinning out of big-box publishers like THQ and Midway, and the closure of successful development studios responsible for some of the best-loved franchises in the business.

Many commentators see this, along with plummeting retail sales, as the beginning of the end of the console business, as more developers move to mobile, PCs and tablets, shunning high game prices for free-to-play services, value for money bundles and app stores that offer distribution opportunities to millions of consumers.

But Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony's Worldwide development studios, has told GamesIndustry International that home consoles can still innovate in development and business, stating: "if we didn't believe in that we wouldn't be in this business."

"It's not the decline of consoles, it's the decline of a generation," he said. "This generation has been the longest on the PS3 and the Xbox, it's the seventh year. In older times we would have launched a new system already. Really, developers hit the limits after a couple of games on the same system, typically.

"There are a few developers like Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream who are doing more, but that's kind of the exception. After you see the sequels to the same three games people feel like they've seen everything before. That's natural, but that's nothing like the end of the consoles."

While this generation has been much longer than previous, Sony is planning a 10-year lifecycle for the PlayStation 4, but it's not concerned such a long time on the market will lead to console fatigue.

"If players are excited that means we are doing something right," said Yoshida, referring to the companies triumphant showing at E3 earlier this month.

"It's very simple. When you look at the PlayStation 3, it is way, way better than the PS3 that came out in 2007. Because we're constantly improving and adding content and updates, through firmware or PSN updates. It's the same with PS Vita with new applications added. It's a constant evolution of the system even though the hardware remains exactly the same.

"It will be the same with the PlayStation 4," offered Yoshida. "We are launching this holiday but we already have plans on the roadmap for additional features and improvements on the services side which will constantly evolve with time.

"The key to this on PS4 is we have a huge 8GB of memory. That's way more than game developers need initially. At the mid-point of the PlayStation 3 lifecycle we really hit the limit of what we can add in terms of system features. The reason we couldn't add cross-game voice chat that players wanted was we were out of memory. Because we have 8GB of RAM we can secure enough room for whatever great features developers can come up with."

"If you're a PS3 or a PS Vita user you can still enjoy cloud services. We're developing along that schedule, not necessarily trying to tie in with the PlayStation 4 schedule"

If new services and updates are key to keeping the PlayStation 4 relevant for the coming decade, then the cloud gaming services that Sony is putting in place will be central to the console's evolution.

However, cloud gaming services won't be available at launch of the PlayStation 4 this Christmas, with Yoshida explaining that the technology developed by the Gaikai team is being integrated across the whole PlayStation ecosystem, not just the PS4.

"Cloud gaming services are launching next year in the US so PlayStation 4 and Vita users will be able to play PlayStation 3 catalogue games even though there's no native compatibility on the system itself. That's just one example of how we can improve the system.

"The PlayStation 4 is just one of the target devices. It's all about the cloud server. Our team in Gaikai and Sony Japan are working hard to provide the online game services but it doesn't require the PS4 to enjoy those services. If you're a PS3 or a PS Vita user you can still enjoy the cloud services. So we're developing along that schedule, not necessarily trying to tie in with the PlayStation 4 schedule."

25 Comments

It's going to be an interesting generation, I think the big question is, does mobile gaming bring in more consumers to the console gaming arena ( in that they enjoy casual mobile games..and think, I want even more bolder and better games let me buy a console), or does it draw away a chunk of casual demographics from the consoles? ( in that , this moile gaming is just the right amount of gaming for my casual itch, I dont think I need a console anymore)

I think the answer to this will be the difference between consoles becoming more mainstream, or more niche.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 27th June 2013 3:02pm

Posted:9 months ago

#1

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
Very well said. I honestly dont see mobile gaming as providing an immersive enough expirience for gaming that consoles and PC's do. I dont think a company will invest time and money in creating a game on the scale of the mass effect trilogy or assasins creed saga, exclusivly for mobile phones. Of the billions of people who have mobile devices how many of them play games? and the other question is what type of games? Some games may work on a mobile device such as Angry birds. But I doubt I can play a Metal Gear game on a mobile device while on the train, waiting for a bus or in my job hiding from my boss. We have the 3DS and VITA however those who buy those devices buy them exclusivly to play games. Unlike a phone or tablet. Some games can be enjoyed on mobile devices others cannot. Im not saying one platform is better than the other, Im not saying either of them should die, what Im saying is each is taylor made to enjoy games in a different way. If E3 was any sign of things to come, Id say consoles have a very very bright future. In this E3 I saw many of the things I wanted to see and that left me with very high expectations for the console business.

And finally we have this :
"Cloud gaming services are launching next year in the US so PlayStation 4 and Vita users will be able to play PlayStation 3 catalogue games even though there's no native compatibility on the system itself. That's just one example of how we can improve the system.
Because we have 8GB of RAM we can secure enough room for whatever great features developers can come up with."
This means that PS4 will support cloud processing like the XboxOne and any other feature developers might come up with. It doesnt even suprise me if the PS4 can do voice recognition and kinect like motion sensing. It has the power to process those features.

Can the console business get better... Oh yes it can... an my money is behind it. I invest quite alot in console games and its not because they suck.

To me consoles are where you go to expirience a game, much like you would expirience a movie in the movie theater.

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Christian Keichel
Journalist

410 558 1.4
Really, developers hit the limits after a couple of games on the same system, typically.
Sony's Phil Harrison on PS3 December 2006:
"nobody will ever use 100 percent of its capability."
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2006/12/8455/

Posted:9 months ago

#3

Andrzej Wroblewski
Computer Games Translator

86 43 0.5
Dear God, when will people understand that it's the marketing that undermines every possible creative effort that made games what they used to be in the past?!

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,116 888 0.8
The world 'limit' in this context can be so ambiguous though, seems to ignore inventiveness in favour of bits, bytes and flops. That's not to say they're not important...

Posted:9 months ago

#5

Aaron Brown
BA Computer Science Student

59 22 0.4
@Andrzej Wroblweski

You are 100% right...

Posted:9 months ago

#6

Kareem Merhej
Designer

22 27 1.2
As per usual Yoshida-san is on the money.

Posted:9 months ago

#7

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

764 996 1.3
I have a feeling Bruce will disagree with the title.

Posted:9 months ago

#8

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 901 0.5
Heh. Given that a wave of Android "consoles" are here and on the way, the man has a pointy point point that must be agreed with...

Posted:9 months ago

#9

Justin Biddle
Software Developer

147 425 2.9
I'm sure Bruce will comment soon. He's just breathing slowly into a brown paper bag to calm down before he responds ;)

Posted:9 months ago

#10

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

317 174 0.5
If both Sony and Microsoft had spent time developing a proper cross device operating system like iOS and Android, when they were in a commanding position, they would be in a much better place today. The hardware itself wouldn't matter as much as it does to them. Google and Apple just came in provided a much better solution to suit everyone's needs. Not just gamers. Until they focus on that, they will be selling games to a niche market when you think of the reach of technology globally. Unless the coming consoles do something drastically different in this department, I cant see much changing.

Posted:9 months ago

#11

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

713 491 0.7
@Justin
We all expect him to comment. He is turning from a marketing guy to a viral add itself...

Posted:9 months ago

#12
Executives at Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft took a gamble - allegedly unbeknownst to their investors - they created a plan for their new Gen-8 platform to be a exclusive realm with zero backwards compatibility, a draconian online model, and a development environment that made the Nazi's look “fun loving”; and are now reaping the result!

Faced with the investors fury we see a series of executives give hurried interviews promising strong interest in their Gen-8 hardware plans, that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming express train, and that there is no need to be concerned. All this and in the shadows a hoard of Android, PC and open-source game platforms gather like an oncoming storm.

When the reckoning dose comes next year, as the reality of Gen-8's sales figures kick in, all I ask of the media is that they focus on the cause of this collapse and reports it in a unbiased manner, rather than go for a “everything is okay nothing to see” approach. It will be essential that accountability regarding this failed business approach is highlighted rather than brushed under the carpet.

We live in interesting times, though there is a danger that too much corporate BS could be injected into the mix – rather than admitting a failed business acumen, some executives may try and hide behind claims that the games market is at fault, and that this collapse is “inevitable”. The last thing I want to see 'again' is that those executive-geniuses responsible vanish for a few years only to reappear and claim they had nothing to do with this mess, wrapped in the cult of personality, as we have seen before!

Posted:9 months ago

#13

Slade Wilson
Financial Analyst

14 11 0.8
Also the decline of game quality which sony has had to deal with

Posted:9 months ago

#14

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,209 2,048 0.9
Executives at Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft took a gamble - allegedly unbeknownst to their investors - they created a plan for their new Gen-8 platform to be a exclusive realm with zero backwards compatibility, a draconian online model, and a development environment that made the Nazi's look “fun loving”; and are now reaping the result!
You do know the Wii U is backwards compatible with the Wii, right?
And that their online model is getting heavily praised by indies, right?
And that their development environment includes Unity and conversion tools, right?

Posted:9 months ago

#15

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
Right now, AMD is building the hardware which is then branded by Sony and MS. Are we really that naive to believe that the big PC hardware manufacturers are going to allow Sony and MS get away with that sort of rebranding forever? Especially now that both consoles use PC hardware and most engines are compatible?

Posted:9 months ago

#16

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 901 0.5
@Jim: All true... but the eShop NEEDS work, stat. It's easy to use, but the lack of decent Wii U demos makes it seem as if the library is slimmer than it actually is. that and the demos that are available are timed or limited to a certain number of plays (which is weird for a daunting game like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate where you need to log some serious practice time before diving into the full version)...

Posted:9 months ago

#17

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,209 2,048 0.9
No doubt, Greg. However, it's my understanding that those play limitations are solely at the discretion of the publisher, not Nintendo.

More demos would be great. But again, they give that option to the developer. Unlike MS that mandates all games have a demo. I've heard that devs hate that because it takes away from actual development time.

Posted:9 months ago

#18

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
Demo's arent always a great idea, since you are seeing a portion of the whole game. A demo may not necessarily reflect the expirience the full game may provide later when its released and the end result could be bad for sales. And I belive it should be up to the publisher wether or not to create a demo for a game, as it can lower game sales if not executed with care. As with the game FUSE and Resident Evil 6. The demo for Battlefield 3 suffered from many bugs and gliches. Those demo's actually lowered my expectations for a game. And as stated by Jim, it takes away from development time. All in all it should be left up to developers wether they provide a Demo or not.... at least in my opinion.

Posted:9 months ago

#19
Okay I get it – there are some people out there that will fight their corner to the bitter end!

But this whole generation is beginning to smell like the Philips CDi to me guys!

Posted:9 months ago

#20
... where is Bruce?

Posted:9 months ago

#21

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 901 0.5
Oh, I do KNOW for a fact that many developers hate squeezing out demos (I keep thinking of the hilarious conversation I had back at my first E3 with a few folks on this) and one would have to be an idiot if one used a demo as the barometer as the final build (especially when every demo I own or have played says up front that the quality will be different). The reality is, many people who don't know this aren't willing to drop full retail (or digital, heh) on a new IP or even a sequel if they can't try it out.

That said, the amount of actual Nintendo demo discs (outside of press/public event builds and retail kiosk stuff you can't purchase unless someone puts it up on eBay or some dedicated collection/trade site) is really tiny compared to what Sony and Microsoft put out in the pre-digital madness era we're in now..

And no, I don't know where Bruce is...

Posted:9 months ago

#22

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

193 424 2.2
@ the 'Bruce' comments.

You mentioned him too many times, you scared the game away.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 30th June 2013 11:47am

Posted:9 months ago

#23

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
what do you expect Bruce to say?

That Sony and MS have more trouble finding an audience beyond a core gamer demographic, than tablets made for surfing the web on the toilet?

That we see a shift at which age children first interact with games, which type of games those are and which type of platform they are running on? A shift which will influence later gaming habits.

That we have two console manufacturers which have problems growing up with their audience and trouble connecting to a new generation of gamers because of what I just wrote above?

That using gameplay as a mere psychological primer to trigger inherent human behavioral patterns which are against the player's financial interests is not shady at all, but the way of the future?

Posted:9 months ago

#24
For us of an older generation, Bruce represents the last vestige of the 'bedroom' game programming / publishing community – he represents the days of Bug Byte, Software Projects, US Gold and Ocean – his influence at Imagine, coming just as the first great crash hit software game publishing, and his duplicity in this turmoil a beacon to how we need to be aware of our past and how it impacts our future!

We forget how this mess touches us now at our peril!

Posted:9 months ago

#25

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