Headline-writers no doubt miss Phil Harrison's bullish proclamations about the downfall of rumble and the power of PlayStation 3 to crush its rivals, but his successor as president of Sony Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, has arguably done a lot of good for the company's image since his appointment. Polite and measured in conversation with the press, he even does the unthinkable now and then and compliments the opposition, rather than referring to Microsoft and Nintendo in abstract terms and smirks.
Even the day after Sony's gamescom conference, at which the platform holder finally took action on the PS3 price, introduced a new PS3 form factor, previewed motion controller revelations at the Tokyo Game Show, and took significant steps to adjust the PSP's trajectory, Yoshida is humble and candid, and happy to agree that many of his company's initiatives are a work in progress. Read on to find out what he had to say about the PS3 Slim, the motion controller and development for the PSPgo.
Eurogamer: Do you think the PS3 Slim and the associated price cut will be enough to silence people who have been complaining about the high price?
Shuhei Yoshida: Not all people, but many people will be happy to hear the price.
Eurogamer: How is the new PS3 different technically, and how were you able to achieve the gains you've made in space-saving and power-saving?
Shuhei Yoshida: It's basically more eco-friendly. It's smaller, and uses less power. That's great. You can save some money from paying utilities. But mostly it's a natural-evolution shrinkage of components, so we can make the same product cheaper so we can pass on the savings to consumers. Nothing really from game development standpoint changes from existing PS3 to new PS3.
Eurogamer: I was surprised you were able to make the kind of space-saving gains you were able to make, because obviously PS3 packs in a lot of equipment and already cost you loads to make. Is it cheaper to make this new unit?
Shuhei Yoshida: It's definitely cheaper to make compared to the generation that's in the market. If you have noticed, we have made several changes during the PS3 period, not just in size of disk drives, but also we continuously combine components or introduce newer, smaller, space-saving components. It's a continuing process. But this new PS3 is different - we are taking much bigger steps, and that has significant cost-saving effects. When you look at our history, we never stop; we continue to work on it.
Eurogamer: So you imagine that one day there will be an even slimmer PlayStation 3.
Shuhei Yoshida: [Laughs] That's a good question. The Blu-ray drive takes up some space, so...
Eurogamer: Another thing that was mentioned at your gamescom conference was the fact that it might be worth turning up at the Tokyo Game Show to find out about the motion controller.
Shuhei Yoshida: No promises! We did show some of the actual game footage for the first time [at the conference] though.
Eurogamer: At E3 you said that development kits were only just going out to developers, so they must have had them for a little while. What sort of feedback have you had and how is it helping you with the product?
Shuhei Yoshida: This motion controller development is unique from a hardware development strategy standpoint. In the past, SCE used to approach hardware development from the hardware dream - the engineers wanting to really focus on cutting edge, advanced technologies. But this motion controller, even the reason we developed it came from software teams, so the involvement of our teams, some of our game teams, with the hardware groups and the US R&D groups has been very, very tight, and it's been an iterative process.
Way before we showed the demos at E3, we were working on the prototypes. It's been an iterative process that we are still continuing, so every version gets better and better and has some features added or removed. We are still continuing that process.
Eurogamer: Do you think you're close to the final design for it now?
Shuhei Yoshida: Yeah I think so. Ha ha. We have to finish sooner than later.
Eurogamer: Do you intend people to use two at once or can you play with one? Are the individual wand units going to be identical or will they have different functions?
Shuhei Yoshida: The ultimate goal or wish for us is if you have two controllers, like we demoed at E3, we can do something really amazing. It's like putting your arms into the TV, like a gaming space, and you have total control of the 3D space in front of you.
But because of cost-of-goods and, you know, people have to have the PlayStation Eye camera as well, we are approaching the launch by making sure that all games that we create can be played with one controller and the camera. We will also introduce options for if you happen to have more than one controller available. Experiences will be enhanced if you purchase a second.
We are trying to make the entry barrier as low as possible, but I'm looking forward to introduce more advanced things you can do with having two in your hands.