Yoshida-san: I have big plans for Worldwide Studios
Group president explains what he brings to the job, and why Eight Days and Getaway cancellations weren't unusual
Shuhei Yoshida, the man chosen last month by Sony to replace Phil Harrison as head of its Worldwide Studios, has told GamesIndustry.biz that while he doesn't intend to fulfil Harrison's evangelist role, he did say that there are "lots of things we're already planning to implement" in the medium term.
In part one of a two-part interview, Yoshida-san looked back on the history of Sony Computer Entertainment, and revealed how the structure has changed since Kaz Hirai took over from Ken Kuturagi.
"After Ken Kuturagi's departure, Kaz Hirai completely changed the way we worked internally," he said. "Before, because Ken was such a big visionary, he came up with something, a great technology, but then landed it on us as a finished thing...but Kaz is involving Worldwide Studios members and regional headquarters people to inform strategy, for the company and the platforms.
"That's a major, major change in how we work, and I think it's the right change. Looking at how we struggled with PlayStation 3, one visionary just can't get it perfect three times in a row.
"Because of this change, in the long term, that's going to be a major responsibility for me - it's kind of outside of managing Worldwide Studios, but it's going to be part of life for senior management in the SCE group to participate in that strategy formation."
He also talked about the recent cancellations of Eight Days and The Getaway, titles which had been in production at the Sony London Studio, and explained how revealing them so early in their development cycle was unusual, but helped to demonstrate the power of the PlayStation 3.
"As you might know, starting and cancelling projects is just a normal part of our business," he said. "What's unusual about this case is that we usually don't announce titles until we have a really good feel, until they're getting ready and we have an idea of launch day.
"The situation was that because we started talking about the PS3 in 2005-6, the idea concepts that became the Eight Days and The Getaway projects had something very representative of things that we think will define this generation of game development - the particles, the fantastic explosions, and so on.
"So company management decided to show it as an example, as a demo, not necessarily meaning that they were titles to come. It could have been a little bit confusing because there were lots of announcements of actual titles, but because of timing we made the unusual decision to announce those two at a very early stage of development."
And when asked if it would have been better to label them as tech demos instead of implying they were to be game releases, he was circumspect.
"Well, I don't know - it must be disappointing to the people who worked really hard, but they know this is part of what we do," he explained. "So I think it looks like big news, but it's really not. It happens, just usually without you knowing."
The first part of the GamesIndustry.biz with Yoshida-san is available now, and part two - in which he addresses the software line-up of the PlayStation 3, the importance of Blu-ray and the mass-market, and talks about the performance of the PlayStation Portable will be available tomorrow.