Andrew House is enjoying E3 this year. Not least, he told us, because he hasn't had to organise Sony's conference - a responsibility he previously held for 10 years. But that was before House became president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Now he doesn't have to worry about things like guest lists, pre-conference leaks and whether someone's going to do a Riiiiidge Racer.
So does House think his successor did a good job of sorting Sony's 2010 conference? What about the no-shows, like The Last Guardian and the rumoured new PSP? What exactly is going on with PlayStation Plus and cross-game chat? Read on for answers to all these questions. All right, answers to a small minority of these questions, and a lot of "We're not talking about that today" nonsense, but you know.
Eurogamer: What did you think of Sony's E3 conference this year?
Andrew House: I thought it was a resounding success. There was a ton of very good gaming content for the second year running. We've got a great line-up of games for PS3 going out this year and next. I thought it was the best articulation of the potential of Move that I've seen. I had not actually seen Sorcery with Move implemented, and that was a huge eye-opener for me. It's now top of my must-have game list.
Eurogamer: Have you always secretly wanted to be a wizard?
Andrew House: I have always secretly wanted to be a wizard. I have read every Harry Potter book and we'll leave it there.
Eurogamer: I think there's a lawsuit in the offing if you carry on down that road.
Andrew House: But the general entertainment level of the conference was clearly very high. We're in an entertainment category and there should be a sense of fun. I actually thought the return to some of the good-humoured jibes between the competition, which perhaps hasn't been as present in the industry for a few years, was quite a positive thing. So overall, I think it was a really good job.
Eurogamer: What did you think of the rival platform holder conferences?
Andrew House: It's probably hard for me to say. It's not fair for me to make comments if I wasn't actually there in the room.
Eurogamer: Going back to your conference then, obviously 3D played a big part. However, there's a big question mark over who's going to buy this technology. Ray Maguire told us the early adopters who have purchased iPads will, but a 3D TV and sets of glasses is a much bigger investment than an iPad. Do you really think the market is there?
Andrew House: Absolutely. Sony has made a very strong decision based on a belief that 3D will be the next big wave in consumer entertainment. I don't think we're alone in that belief, given the competitive rush right now to bring 3D products to market.
The success of Avatar clearly demonstrated that although there was lasting cynicism around 3D, the consumer sees great potential in it. While it's not perhaps a great analogy to compare an increase in ticket prices with an increase in the price of the television set, I think you can make a link and say consumers see a premium in 3D and are prepared to invest in it.
Eurogamer: Are they prepared to invest that much, though? A cinema ticket is maybe £10, while the cost of a home 3D set-up runs into the thousands...
Andrew House: And that's why I said I don't think I'd make a direct analogy in that way. On the other hand, I think the best analogy perhaps is with the growth of high definition. The same questions were raised around HD television sets when they first emerged - they're too expensive, there's a huge barrier to entry...
We're in a very competitive industry. The price of technology will come down over time and usually faster than we first expected it to. I firmly believe the same curve will happen with 3D and I also think that having had the HD experience, there's a lot more willingness to invest in what I might call the content ecosystem that's necessary for something like this to take off.
Then layer on top of that the rather unique position SCEE finds itself in... I can't remember a new introduction of new entertainment technology where there was already a pre-installed base of 35 million devices worldwide that are now 3D-ready.
Make no mistake, it's going to be a long-term strategy and it will take time. But with those elements in place it probably bodes well for this being a faster ramp-up than perhaps with previous new technology adoption.
Eurogamer: Are you really confident it's not just a curio? Do people really want to play Killzone in 3D for hours at a time?
Andrew House: We make a mistake if we're pigeonholing a 3D experience into one time-slot. Killzone's a showcase for what can be done with the technology and it's being designed from the ground up. Not every game will be designed that way.
You can see 3D enhancements in games, rewards that emerge after certain elements in gameplay, certain levels and environments that fit more of a 3D experience. It's very early days for this new technology but the people who've experienced it say it's fundamentally different.
Eurogamer: Following the PlayStation Plus announcement, there seems to be a bit of confusion over the cross-game chat issue. Will that feature come in the form of a firmware update or will it only be available to PS Plus subscribers?
Andrew House: I think that's a separate, side-issue from PlayStation Plus right now. I don't think we've talked about that for that reason.
What we're doing with PlayStation Plus is a really robust set of free content, discounted content, opportunities to access free trials... I'd emphasise that this was based on a lot of what our network consumers were telling us they would like to see more of. So I think we've constructed the value proposition very, very carefully.
If you start to add up all that's available to you over the course of the year, it looks to be a really good deal. I want to stress that it's one other option, in addition to the current service which is free at the point of entry, and there are no plans to change any of that.
Eurogamer: Have you made a decision on whether you'll have to subscribe to PlayStation Plus if you want cross-game chat?
Andrew House: That's not really something we're talking about at this show.
Eurogamer: It's what people really want to know, though...
Andrew House: And we'll be able to tell them.
Eurogamer: But not now?
Andrew House: No.
Eurogamer: With regard to PlayStation Plus giving subscribers discounts and access to things like Qore - is that a good deal? It feels a bit like you're saying, 'You can pay us to buy our products for slightly less and get a catalogue advertising them.'
Andrew House: No, I don't think that's a fair categorisation. Free game downloads, one PSN title, two Minis and one PSone classic every month; free premium avatars; dynamic themes; full-game trials, which was one of the things consumers told us they wanted most...
Eurogamer: What happens to those downloaded games if your subscription expires?
Andrew House: The games themselves will go away. They are valid for the life of the subscription.
Eurogamer: Do they self-destruct?
Andrew House: They're deactivated. They're reactivated if you reactivate your subscription.
Eurogamer: I asked the readers what they wanted me to ask you via Twitter. I won't repeat everything they said, but this question came up a lot: where was The Last Guardian at your press conference?
Andrew House: Yes, we would love to have more of an update on The Last Guardian. The team is hard at work on it.
Eurogamer: Are you sure they're hard at work on it? It's been a while. Are you sure they're not just sitting round eating crisps and watching Hollyoaks, and telling you it'll be ready in a bit?
Andrew House: Having spent six years working in Japan, I can guarantee you people will be hard at work, all hours of the night and day.
Eurogamer: When was the last time you saw it?
Andrew House: I have not seen it recently, other than what's been shown publicly.
Eurogamer: So you don't know why it wasn't at the conference?
Andrew House: I think the team just made a decision that they didn't want to talk about the progress on the game or reveal it at this particular stage, and we have to respect that.
Eurogamer: Will it be at the Cologne Gamescom or the Tokyo Game Show?
Andrew House: I couldn't say right now.
Eurogamer: I told a top secret source I was interviewing you today, and they suggested I ask you if the new PSP will have two screens.
Andrew House: Number one, I don't know of a new PSP. Clearly we're focused very much right now on the current generation of PSP. We just launched two significant initiatives that we think really improve the value proposition. The launch of PSP essentials - great content, well-vetted, well-played, good-selling games at £9.99 - really helps us broaden out even further to a mass market.
Eurogamer: My source said I should also ask you whether the new PSP will have 3G and email functionality.
Andrew House: I have no idea about the new PSP right now.
Eurogamer: There's a huge buzz around the Nintendo 3DS. Everyone I've talked to at E3 who's seen it has said they reckon it's amazing. Can PSP really compete with that?
Andrew House: I think we can. We have shown that the content line-up for PSP continues to be extremely strong. We're addressing the value proposition to make it an easier point of entry. It's going to be a matter of targeting different consumers.
Yes, PSP is coming into a mature part of the life cycle. It's been on the market now for over five years. We've sold 62 million units sold worldwide and it continues to get good content support, so we're happy with the proposition. As we always end up saying, we'll come to market with new technologies when we feel the technologies themselves are right, and when the consumer's ready.
Eurogamer: If you're so convinced that there's this huge demand for 3D, why not introduce a 3D handheld?
Andrew House: For me, 3D in the portable space is far less tested and there is far less of that content ecosystem that I talked about earlier. All of the elements I mentioned are in place for the home content. It remains to be seen whether they're going to come into play. 3D without glasses, on a portable device, is an intriguing idea, but it's one that needs to have a lot more road testing before we'd want to jump in there.
Eurogamer: Here's another question from a reader - well, more of a slightly aggressive statement really - from @MairusuPawa: "Other OS. I paid for it, I want it back."
Andrew House: We are obviously a company that takes decisions like that very seriously. I think we had good reasons for making the change we did. It's regrettable that we can't please everyone. There is an audience that obviously found value in that feature, but overall we have to take decisions for the vast majority of the audience and the good of the platform.
Eurogamer: But what benefit did withdrawing the feature really have for the audience? Wasn't it really about preventing piracy?
Andrew House: I think that's important for the good of the platform overall. Sustaining a good platform with good, secure content means that down the line, you continue to have great games from great content manufacturers, and that's good for the audience overall.
Eurogamer: Let's move on to the Move controller, which has just been priced at £34.99 for the Move and £24.99 for the nunchuk. Yours is already the most expensive console on the market, and now you're asking consumers to pay even more for Move, never mind 3D tellies and glasses... Do you think they will?
Andrew House: That question implies there's some sort of pressure or force from us. I think we're offering products that we hope people will see value in and want to pay for. There's no sense of compulsion. The standard PlayStation 3 experience, I think, is still the overall best-value gaming experience out there. Absent Move, absent 3D.
I also think we've done a really good job of layering in more value in the console, certainly than is true of the competition. It comes with a free Blu-ray player - that's still a significant value that sometimes gets overlooked. The fact the device is going to be made 3D-ready at no extra charge is great value that we're passing onto the consumer.
If you look at the price of entry for the controllers, compare them with other controllers out there, they're reasonably priced. We tried very hard to build this to be a really good value for the consumer. We want to build it like a platform as opposed to just a peripheral business. We strove very hard to try and bring the main offering under the price of a game - that was one of our targets, in the hope people would say, 'Yes, OK, when laid alongside a game, this can be employed multiple times across different experiences.' I hope they see sufficient value in that.
Eurogamer: It seemed your conference was more hardcore in tone this year, what with the likes of Twisted Metal and Kevin Butler making an appearance... There was no one on stage playing Move Party...
Andrew House: I'm smiling because I've been asked that question the other way a few times today, and also a few times that way. Which actually says to me, not wanting to sound complacent, that we're doing our jobs right. Some people saw it as being hardcore gamer-focused, others said there was a nod to the hardcore but it was really all about the casual market.
Eurogamer: Hmm. I can't really see my Mum getting into Gran Turismo or Killzone.
Andrew House: Haha!
Eurogamer: She's more into Halo. Anyway, who do you think is going to win E3 2010?
Andrew House: I will wait for folks like your good self to decide.
Eurogamer: Are you confident Sony is going to win?
Andrew House: I think we put a great set of content and techology in front of the consumer. I think we can be as proud as anyone of the line-up we have for this year. It depends on what your definition of winning the show is. I think our content line-up stands up against anyone.
Eurogamer: I know our time is very nearly up, so let's finish with one last quick reader question. This one's from @davidmhodgey. Do you prefer space LEGO or cowboy LEGO, or do you mix them together to make space cowboy LEGO?
Andrew House: Gosh, when was the last time I played with LEGO... It's more years than I can remember...
Eurogamer: You're just saying that because all your PR executives are listening. I bet you've got a special desk drawer in your office with millions of LEGO in for when no one's around.
Andrew House: I built the Millennium Falcon in LEGO with my son, so that's my LEGO secret.
Eurogamer: Don't tell me you're not even going to commit on the space cowboy LEGO question, Andrew. This is serious evasion.
Andrew House: I'm not. I just can't commit.
Eurogamer: There you have it, readers. I tried.
Andrew House is the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. A top insider source tells Eurogamer he secretly prefers cowboy LEGO, because of the hats.