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Shuhei Yoshida

The Sony Worldwide Studios president reacts to the PS3 price cut, and talks internal comms and external developer relations

Since the arrival of new president Shuhei Yoshida last year, Sony Worldwide Studios has worked hard on improving internal communications and relationships with other Sony Computer Entertainment departments - something which is becoming apparent as new products (such as the forthcoming motion control system) will demonstrate.

Here, the man himself reacts to the PlayStation 3 price cut and new Slim SKU, discusses the progress of that internal communication, and outlines the philosophy to working well with external development studios.

GamesIndustry.biz From the Worldwide Studios perspective, what impact do you expect the PlayStation 3 price cut and new SKU introduction to have?
Shuhei Yoshida

Do you want the official answer, or my honest answer? [smiles]

My honest answer is that we're so excited about the products we're working on for release this year, but if there was one thing that could have prevented the success of our titles we felt that would be the price point - so we're relieved to see it finally happen.

GamesIndustry.biz The economic downturn has been particularly tough on Sony in the past year or so, but if recovery continues it could come at just the right time for the PS3 Slim?
Shuhei Yoshida

Yes, I totally agree. Games like MAG, or those hardcore games, we have no concerns over. But games like EyePet, or Heavy Rain, or ModNation Racers - they're targeted to grow the audience, and it's crucial to make the hardware more approachable to those consumers.

GamesIndustry.biz The PlayStation 2 slimline version had a strong impact on sales - does the PS3 Slim increase the pressure on rivals in terms of a sense of living room chic?
Shuhei Yoshida

Well, our hardware design guys will totally talk about design philosophies and differentiation, and all that. But from a software side, I think once people purchase, the hardware almost falls away from their vision, and all that they see is what's on the TV. So it's nicer that it takes up less space - and also less power... it's eco-friendly, so you can be happier about that.

But other than that, I like the new design, but as far as the game experience is concerned it'll offer exactly the same functionality.

GamesIndustry.biz Has the process of collaboration between the software and hardware sides of SCE been better in the past year or so?
Shuhei Yoshida

Absolutely, yes. As far as the new PS3 is concerned it's purely the hardware team's extra effort, and they've done a fantastic job of consolidating some of the components and developing new ones to make it smaller and less expensive to make.

But something new, like the motion controller we demonstrated at E3 - from the very beginning of the project, the idea that we wanted something like this came from the software development teams, so it was a totally collaborative process between the game development teams at Worldwide Studios, those at the SCEA R&D team that worked on the vision technology and the hardware team in Tokyo.

So three groups formed a team to develop new technology - and it's been a great experience for all three of us. It's interesting - we added a new process for the hardware guys, who are very, very busy, to talk to game teams and give feedback.

I wasn't sure how they'd accept those additional steps, but as soon as they started to see some of the things they'd had to make choices on - without really understanding the impact they had - it's now really that at every step they can talk to the game teams. They can find out that one thing is more important than another, or that something doesn't work, and immediately they loved it.

So when you talk to the hardware guys in Tokyo now I think they're saying that there's no other way to develop. I think we've made lots of progress.

GamesIndustry.biz I know that was one of the reasons you moved back to Tokyo, to improve that communication. Is there more to do, or are you pretty happy with how it's going?
Shuhei Yoshida

Well, there's always more to do, but compared to when I moved back to Tokyo there are lots of channels that have now opened up between the different groups - hardware and the planning teams, and different parts of the organisation... also Worldwide Studios as well as the marketing groups.

So I think as a whole organisation we're a lot more co-operative, and we're taking more advantage of the talent we have.

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