Last Thursday night, Sony Computer Entertainment Canada VP and GM Steve Turvey was in Toronto to officially sell the first PlayStation 4 in Canada. As he told GamesIndustry International, it was just the first of many that night.
"The launch was a huge success by any standard of measurement. It was by far the largest launch in gaming history in Canada, and we were really thrilled by the execution, but mostly the response by PlayStation fans and consumers," Turvey said.
Turvey might have a unique perspective on that "largest launch in gaming history" issue, having been a part of numerous big ones himself. He's been at Sony for the launches of the PS Vita, PS3, and PSP, but his experience goes back even further than that. In the mid-'90s, he worked at Sega of Canada during the launch of the Sega Saturn, and moved to Nintendo of Canada in time for the Nintendo 64 to hit shelves. That said, he's confident he'll be able to back that "largest launch" claim with numbers instead of anecdotal evidence pulled from his career history.
"We launched more units than we have ever in any console launch across any platform at any time, and by far the most," Hervey said. "Three times, four times as much as we've done historically, and still demand seems to be unsated."
"When you have 1 million-plus people hooking up within a very small window of time, I think there are some inevitable hiccups that will occur."
Outside of a few reserved consoles that had yet to be picked up, Turvey said PS4s were completely sold through in Canada. And while the executive would love to see that demand continue to exceed the supply for a long time to come, Turvey said Sony Canada is working to make sure there are more systems hitting shelves on a weekly basis.
"We have a nice healthy supply of inventory that we'll continue to flow into the marketplace, and we hope that demand continues," Turvey said.
Turvey wouldn't break out attach rates for games or accessories, but he did say both have been strong. Sony is "excited" about the performance of Killzone: Shadow Fall, while fellow first-party title Knack is off to a solid start, Turvey said, with expectations that it will gain momentum heading into the holidays as a family friendly title well suited to gift-giving. DualShock 4 controllers have also been attaching well, and while he didn't discuss its performance, the PS4 camera peripheral impressed Turvey on a personal level.
"I was not dismissive of the camera," Turvey said, "but it wasn't something I particularly thought I really needed. But now that I've had the camera hooked up, I love it and I think it's pretty integral to the experience. And I think more and more consumers will figure that out for themselves."
Not everything went smoothly at launch, however. The PlayStation Network struggled under the user load for a portion of the launch weekend, and reports of defective hardware have not been difficult to find.
"Day One is certainly very important, but maybe too much emphasis is placed on it. The long-term success is built over time."
Of the network performance, Turvey said, "We're never entirely satisfied when you have any hiccups. But when you have 1 million-plus people hooking up within a very small window of time, I think there are some inevitable hiccups that will occur. But when you look at the amount of people going online at once compared to those who had any issues, it was a very small percentage. And the network seemed to handle the additional volume really very well."
As for the hardware issues, Turvey didn't believe they were widespread problems.
"You never want to make it inconsequential, but if it's a problem at all, I think it must be extremely small," Turvey said. "Of course, we always do our best to rectify any issue and have a large customer service team on standby taking calls...Brand loyalty is not something we take lightly, and much of that comes from how we handle our issues with our customers."
As happy as he was with the PS4 launch, Turvey said that when you're hoping to have a system around for the long haul, the importance of launch day is somewhat diminished.
"It's great when something is received well by your customer base on day one and out of the gate," Turvey said. "And when you have day-one demand, it's exciting to be a part of. But as we've been through other iterations of PlayStation, the lifecycle is a long one. We've prided ourselves on sort of future proofing many of our consoles and building future technology into them so that it is in your living room and capable and functional seven to 10 years from now. So while launch is important, it's not everything...Day One is certainly very important, but maybe too much emphasis is placed on it. The long-term success is built over time. You see PlayStation 3, many would suggest it struggled out of the gate, and yet 80 million homes worldwide now are enjoying it, so it would prove to be a success."