It's been almost a year since we had a proper chat with SCEE boss David Reeves, and a lot's gone on. PS3 has apparently overtaken Xbox 360 in Europe ("We know what the figures are," says Reeves, no doubt aware of Microsoft's response), and just prior to our discussion at E3 Reeves announced that the 80GB PS3 would launch in Europe on 27th August for GBP 299 / EUR 399.
However, the intervening period has also seen the cancellation of Eight Days and The Getaway, repeated delays for the ambitious multi-user Sony-world of PlayStation Home, the exit of Phil Harrison as head of Worldwide Studios, and Microsoft declaring it will win the entire console war - something it believes is backed up by its success with Xbox Live, Grand Theft Auto IV and key third-party exclusives.
Naturally then, we asked Reeves about much of that as we stood by a pool in Santa Monica sipping Sony beer. Read on to find out what Sony is doing for European gamers, what aeroplanes and swords have to do with the console war, and why Reeves says Microsoft should stick LittleBigPlanet in Powerpoint.
Eurogamer: Why do the 80GB PS3 in Europe now?
David Reeves: I think the honest answer is that the 80GB hard drive hit a price - a procurement price - at a point where we said "yes, we'll take it now". Hard drives are commodities not just for PlayStations but for Vaios and everything else, and you hit that thing where they say, "okay, 80GB - we'll give it to you at the same price as you can for a 40GB" and that's what's happening right now. It's just fortuitous.
They're already being produced. In fact, most of the European ones have already been produced and are on the boat. We'd probably go a little bit earlier but we just want to build up a bit of stock so we don't have shortages in the European markets.
Eurogamer: How does the console war look from your perspective in Europe?
David Reeves: We actually don't think about it too much. I think we've only made one - I would say - controversial announcement and that was to say that we have a higher installed base than Xbox 360 and we stand by that. We know what the figures are.
But I think - and I keep repeating this - that the more important thing is the growth in the marketplace is just absolutely phenomenal. Not just in Europe either. I was just talking to a guy from New Zealand - in Australia the videogames business is now worth 1.5 billion dollars and five years ago it was like 200,000. The same thing is happening in Europe. I'm talking here about an extended Europe - in Russia and Poland, people are moving from PC gaming to consoles.
I prefer to talk about the fact that, yeah, we're competitors, but the competition really has made people so much sharper, and if I can use this analogy, if you're fighting in a war that's, say, Boeing versus Airbus, it's almost like battleship against battleship and you're fighting from 15 miles away; if you're fighting in the car war, it might be that you're fighting in tanks and you're one kilometre away; in the videogame industry, if there's a war, if there's competition, it's almost like hand-to-hand fighting, but it makes you sharper. You want to have a sharper sword, you want to have a sword that feels just about right, and everyone is very sharp, and what they're doing is they're looking for high ground, low ground where they can get an advantage.
The winner is the consumer, and I think that's great. That's why we are not going to slag off Microsoft or Nintendo at all, because again it's rather like the trainer market: one year it's Reebok, next year it's Nike, and then suddenly it's Adidas; it's cyclical, but in the end everyone wins in five to ten years.
I think we should just celebrate the fact that the videogame industry is growing. I don't say it's recession-proof - it's not - but it's close to that.