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PS3 faces "uphill struggle" to dominate UK platform space - Pannell

But Ubisoft's head of marketing believes PlayStation brand still has huge appeal

Ubisoft's head of marketing in the UK, Murray Pannell, has told GamesIndustry.biz that he feels Sony is facing a big challenge to become the dominant player in the country's next-gen platform landscape - but also believes that if the PlayStation 3's value and price proposition is right, the brand still has a huge appeal.

Pannell, who spent over six years at Microsoft marketing the Xbox and Xbox 360, joined Ubisoft in March this year, and is happy, as a third party, to support all of the platforms increase installed base numbers in order to help his new company sell more games.

"So if I'm just looking at the UK specifically, we all know that Nintendo has done an amazing job, the 360 has solidified its position and is still doing well, and PlayStation I think would say themselves that they would have liked to have sold more hardware units," he said.

"Coming at it from a platform perspective, when I was at Xbox we never underestimated the power of the brand for PlayStation - despite the hiccups they had at launch, and the price particularly, there's still a latent demand for that product. And if they can get their value proposition right in terms of pricing and online, and a software line-up that's unbeatable, they're still a force to be reckoned with.

"But they will take a long time to even get their installed base up to that of the Xbox, let alone Nintendo's level, so they've got an uphill struggle in the UK.

"Obviously we support all platforms, and frankly, the more installed base you've got, the more games you can sell. So we'd rather have all the platform holders growing the IP as much as they can, so there are more people playing games that we can sell to.

"That's very much our hope, and we support all the platform holders where we can to push that, if that's exclusive games, or specific games for specific platforms to help drive those to new audiences."

Pannell was also confident that 2009 would be another strong year for the games industry, despite overarching economic conditions - but did query whether or not the market could sustain the kind of growth that it's seen in the past two years.

"It's certainly not going to decline," he said. "The question is, how long can it continue to grow at the rate of the last two years? I think the jury's out on that, but we're expecting a good year this year.

"Ubisoft has got some great titles, and if you look at the broader line-up there are some great titles as well - Square Enix coming in with Final Fantasy should be great, no doubt about it, and Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty... there's a lot of competition out there, and we'll all be looking eagerly to see what's coming when, but I enjoy the challenge - and there's plenty of consumers out there to appeal to, so we'll make sure we're getting our marketing, PR and product right to make sure they have a good time."

The full, in-depth interview with Murray Pannell is available now.

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