Eurogamer: But 3DS is, at the end of the day, a fairly high-spec, high-tech, second-generation handheld launching into the market at roughly the same time. It's got to be a close fight.
Andrew House: I think that we feel very confident that we have very sufficiently differentiated ourselves from the competition with spec, and in particular the connectivity and network features and interfaces that are all pretty revolutionary. That will set this device apart.
Eurogamer: Is the screen potentially capable of 3D, with glasses?
Andrew House: Um... I'm not sure, is the honest answer to that question. [Once again, it sounds like he really doesn't know.] But that does not sit within our plans right now.
Eurogamer: That seems interesting, given that 3D is such a big thing for Sony as a whole in terms of its TV business, and PS3...
Andrew House: It's a fair question. I think that we view 3D as having the greatest potential, in the near term, in what I would call a dedicated entertainment environment. And that's in the home, around the television, and where it's a shared experience. I think that's really important. We struggle a little bit to see how that 3D, shared experience translates to portable devices as they currently stand.
Eurogamer: This is the first, post-Ken Kutaragi, new PlayStation hardware. Will it be easier to develop for than previous PlayStation platforms? It's often been a criticism from developers.
Andrew House: I think what you heard today from a range of publishers and developers was, yes, that they're already finding... I would say to you, we're further along in the development curve in preparation for this device than we have been on previous devices.
The feedback that we're getting from our own studios as well as external studios is that it is very pleasantly surprisingly easier to develop for. And as you heard from some of the speakers today, the opportunity to take certain assets from an existing PS3 experience, and take them fairly seamlessly, then allows the developer to concentrate on the aspects that really do inform a portable experience.
Like, how do I use the interfaces? I think you saw that demonstrated well from Shuhei's demonstration of Uncharted: it's visibly and recognisably the same world and experience as the PS3, but the uncovering of the tablets, the interface to do climbing, just makes it then a completely new twist.
Eurogamer: That was my next question – what are you going to do to stop people simply porting games across to it? If it's that powerful that you could bring a PS3 game across quite easily...
Andrew House: To be honest, the publishers that I've spoken to have generally indicated that they don't think that that's satisfactory for the consumer. To try and ask the consumer just to re-purchase an existing console experience – I don't think we or they feel that is really going to be the correct strategy.
Where I think it does become really interesting is if publishers, including ourselves, start to think of franchises more holistically. So, here's Uncharted; here's the dedicated PS3 experience and that's what this needs to be; here's a network aspect to Uncharted and that's what that needs to be; and here's the portable offshoot or adjunct to that, and here's what that needs to be. But they're all working together to enhance a franchise.
We were delighted that Philip [Earl, Activision suit] was able to be with us today and to stake a commitment that they've already seen that opportunity for Call of Duty and taking an extension of the most powerful-selling franchise around right now.
Eurogamer: Can I move the conversation onto PS3 briefly? The fact that PS3 has now been "cracked" by hackers – what does that mean for players, and can you realistically stop piracy now?
Andrew House: I think that we will work extremely hard and are already moving very fast to try and maintain the security of our device. It's the lifeblood of our industry – if you're going to continue to see innovative games, they have to be within a business model that allows publishers to justify and recoup the huge investments and creative talent they've put into those games.
I think the best thing that I can say on that is we will do our absolute utmost to address any and all security issues around PS3.
[A Sony rep informs me after the interview that PS3 received a firmware update today – 3.56 – which he characterised as the first, if definitely not the last, step in Sony's response to the hack.]
Eurogamer: Kaz Hirai said that NGP will be released "starting from the holiday season this year". Does that mean Japan? Are we looking at 2012 in the US and Europe?
Andrew House: I don't think we're in a position to have nailed down launches by geography. You'll hear more about that from us later on this year.
Eurogamer: But it will be available somewhere this year?
Andrew House: It will definitely be on the market within calendar year. That's the intention.
Eurogamer: Fine. And when's PS4 coming out?
Andrew House: [Laughs] PSwhat?
PR: Haven't you been invited to tomorrow's presentation?
Andrew House is president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.