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Sony's House surprised by Project Scorpio

President of gaming group didn't expect reveal so early, says tech industry has shifted to more immediate gratification

Microsoft's Project Scorpio reveal had been rumored for weeks ahead of its E3 media briefing. Even so, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and group CEO Andrew House told The Guardian it surprised him.

"I was surprised by the step of announcing something over a year ahead of time," House said. "The dynamics of the tech industry are such that there's a much heavier emphasis on immediate gratification than there was. A lot of that is to do with how Apple has very cleverly and elegantly managed the 'available now' approach. So yes, that was a slight surprise to me. We experienced this ourselves, when, in 2013, very much in line with our previous strategies, we announced a concept and a name for PlayStation 4, and everyone said 'Where's the box? How dare you?!' That was the point we realised, well, we hadn't changed but the world around us had."

That might sound strange, considering House himself announced Sony's own more-powerful PS4, codenamed Neo, in the days before E3 kicked off. However, House explained the logic behind the subdued pre-announcement.

"The point of confirming the existence of PlayStation 4 Neo and the bare bones of the plan last week was about not disappointing the fan base who would obviously come to E3 with high expectations of all kinds of announcements," House said. "And from past experience, the worst thing you can do is disappoint and pull the rug away from people. That's why we went out last week and said, yes, it does exist but don't expect to see it at E3. I think it was the right thing to do."

House also pushed back against the idea that Scorpio and Neo were heralding an end to the traditional console generation cycle.

"Some of our thinking was informed by changes that have happened in the broader tech landscape and the cadence of innovation to which the consumer is now attuned - particularly by smartphones," House said. "I'm not suggesting we want to bring the games industry to an 18-month-two-year cycle because then you would lose an awful lot of the fixed platform benefits we've enjoyed that allow for these really great leaps in game experience.

"However, we did think there was an opportunity to reflect on the traditional lifecycle, and on 4K technology, and say maybe there's an opportunity, within the course of a normal lifecycle to offer something else, something a little bit better, for a segment of the market that feels that this is important."

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Latest comments (3)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
If the next guy is outperforming you in your favorite metric, then simply change the metric. If the next guy has the better long term strategy announcement, then make it about short term. I thought the average gamer got older, not dumber or more senile; at least it says so an this site. The only immediate gratification to come out of this E3 was probably Trials of the Blooddragon. Everything else is months away for the consumers.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam4 years ago
Actually I think what he says makes a lot of sense.

The Xbox One S will be available in two months, and even after the latest price cut the old 500Gb Xbox One is only $20 cheaper than the new 500Gb Xbox One S. The Xbox One S supports 4K video, is much more compact, and presumably more energy efficient. So why would you buy an old Xbox One now?

But then, why would you buy an Xbox One S in August if you know that just over a year later the much more powerful Xbox One "Scorpio" will launch, and make your shiny new $300+ console look distinctly last gen?

There's a reason why Sony and Nintendo have been saying as little as possible about the PS4 Neo and NX. I could be wrong, but common sense would suggest that announcing the Scorpio so early and with so much fanfare is going to hurt Xbox One sales over the next year and a half, because everyone knows a much better new console is on the horizon.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 16th June 2016 4:14pm

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Guy4 years ago
"The dynamics of the tech industry are such that there's a much heavier emphasis on immediate gratification than there was. A lot of that is to do with how Apple has very cleverly and elegantly managed the 'available now' approach"

It's pretty weird to hear Sony talking about "Immediate gratification" for hardware, yet ignoring this approach for software: most of their E3 press conference consisted of games with no release date. And on the hardware side, they also had no problem demoing their PSVR hardware in E3 2014 and 2015.
Not to mention Apple's "available now" iphone approach also relies on annual releases and dedicated developer conferences (WWDC just happened at the same week as E3) way ahead of the actual product launch, where the underlying OS is being made available in preview mode so developers can adapt. It's pretty much a given that we'll get our next iPhone iteration this autumn without having to see the "box", and we can assume the same leap for next year, so we already know how to plan ahead and don't need an official announcement a year ahead just to realise there's yet another iPhone coming up in 2017.

Not sharing their PS4K/Neo plans with their audience despite stating that there's something in the works leaves potential buyers confused: how much more powerful the new console will be? Will it be available this holiday season alongside the PSVR or only on the year following that? How much truth is there in the hardware leaks? Not sharing enough information ahead of time keeps potential buyers confused as to whether they should buy a PS4 now or hold out until Sony gracefully shares more information about the new console with "available now!" approach.
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