Hello London! This is Tokyo. It's day one of the Tokyo Game Show and the opening keynote speech is due to begin shortly. As you're probably aware.
Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai delivered his keynote address at the Tokyo Game Show today and spoke of "the age of the network".
"A little while ago a network was a nice thing to have, but at this point, if you don't have connectivity you're not really there," Hirai told a packed audience during a speech that was light on announcements but heavy on Sony's current thinking.
Citing the success of LittleBigPlanet's user-generated content facilities - with more than two million levels now available for the game - Hirai noted, "If you have the added element of network connectivity, you can broaden the enjoyment."
Industry observers had been hoping for further updates on the PlayStation 3 motion controller and 3D TV technologies, but while Hirai mentioned both in passing and emphasised their long-term importance to PlayStation 3, he offered no more information on the timescale for the public launch of either - except to reiterate that the PS3's wand controller will be out in spring 2010.
Read on for Ellie's full transcript of Kaz Hirai's TGS-opening speech, which we covered live.
Our live coverage of this event has finished.
This year the keynote is being delivered in one of the giant exhibition halls, which is a bit weird. It feels like sitting in the middle of a warehouse. There are lots of super-bright coloured lights. Gentle ballady J-pop plays in the background. It's a bit like the world's most rubbish rave.
Perhaps it IS a rave? Perhaps Kaz Hirai has cancelled, and Andrew House is stepping in? Big fish little fish cardboard box.
They've issued us with translator headsets, which is a bit worrying. Kaz speaks perfect English, even though he does sound a bit like a robot from the future sometimes, so what's the deal?
The chap next to me says he's going to do it in Japanese. Crikey.
Looks like all the seats are taken now and it's standing room only for the people still coming in. Good job we got here early. Despite the best efforts of the Tokyo transit authority to addle our brains and ruin our day with their hilariously complex system.
Trying to negotiate the Tokyo subway is like trying to do a sudoku puzzle while playing chess and learning how to knit. Unless you're from Tokyo, presumably.
Lights down! A video to start. A little computer man is sitting in space, surrounded by silhouettes of dinosaurs, hearts, power buttons etc. Bit weird.
It's a great pleasure for Kaz to be here and he's very grateful for the opportunity. Now he's banging on about how marvellous the old games are. "Today we are commemorating the 15th anniversary of PlayStation first-generation."
There were many questions about Sony entering the games industry back in 1994, says Kaz. He's talking about the original PlayStation now. Thanks to the game creators, the users etc. What about the journalists, Kaz? Thanks a LOT.
He's expressing more thanks and gratitude. It's all getting a bit Paltrow.
A slide is on screen showing all the evolutions of PlayStation, from PSone to the PS3 Slim. "We have to be flexible in designing new games and business models."
Oh good, he's going to talk about networking later. Look forward to that one.
Any predictions for what else he might talk about, readers? Riiiiiiiidge Racer?
He's on about diverse interactive entertainment experiences now. Listening, viewing, playing, creating, sharing, watching, communicating - these are the elements required for interactive experiences. You forgot Achievements.
OK, my translating headset is working. And here's Kaz! He's wearing a very sharp suit. Is that a pink shirt?
A LittleBigPlanet slide now. User-generated content is good, to summarise.
A user playing for six hours every day would have to play for 29 years to play every LBP user-created level.
SingStar now. Hazy memories of performing Time of My Life in honour of Swayze in a karaoke booth 36 hours ago are swimming round in my brain. Anyway, SingStar represents a new business model and you can play it with your family etc.
A general Interactive Entertainment slide now, showing those elements again. "In the future there will be new elements that will come and go, I believe this situation will continue."
"The question is what do we need to develop? We have to open our eyes and be sensitive to what users want." I want a hoverboard, or failing that a pony. Any chance?
"In regard to PS3, already there have been many different attractive titles that have been launched. On the TGS show floor you will be able to experience many different titles." That's a relief.
GRAPHWATCH! No idea what it means. Lots of spikes and numbers.
"The new PS3 has been doing very well, and one of the reasons for this is the price... As a system in the living room, we have managed to realise this price without making any changes to what is good about it."
But it's not about the price alone - it's about the GAMES, innit. Shots of Heavy Rain, EyePet, Gran Turismo 5 and the like.
"Since the launch of PS3 we have looked at over 200 titles which will be packaged for the holiday season." Not sure if this translator is totally on top of that one.
A video: Uncharted, God of War, InFamous, Yakuza - all looks like stuff we've seen before.
White Knight Chronicles, Final Fantasy, The Last Guardian - again, all familiar from previous trailers.
'Evvy Renn, as Cage David would say.
"All of these titles are games we would like you to try as soon as possible." Join the club sir.
"We believe that the high-capacity Blu-ray was the only technology which could support the true creativity developers have." What about holographs and teleportation?
Now he's going to talk about the PlayStation controller. A new colour perhaps?
Now he's showing an EyeToy slide. Bit last-gen innit?
Aha! The PS Motion Controller! Looks like the prototype we've seen before on the slide.
Come on Kaz, show us your magic wand! "This will be something that will be familiar to operate, and even for core gamers who have stringent requirements, it will be beneficial."
He's holding up a magic wand. The magic ping pong ball changes from pink to green. There is a few seconds silence then he puts it down again. Slightly anti-climactic.
"It is possible to have the absolute position of the user captured and traced accurately, whether he's playing above his head or has his arms in front of him..." It's very accurate.
There is "light vibration feedback".
The motion controller is due to launch in spring 2010, following DualShock 3 as a second standard controller.
They will continue sharing info with game developers to enhance support "for light users as well as core gamers". "We want to attract even more gamers to our platform."
And now on to the PSP. Is that all we're getting of your magic wand, Kaz? But Lord Voldemort has not yet been defeated!
Another graph. It goes up. They're going to look at doing more bundle packs. And it's time for a video.
Gran Turismo 5, some sort of mental fruit machine thing, tennis, Final Fantasy, flying robots, Metal Gear, etc.
Again, this all looks like familiar stuff. Echochrome. LBP.
Fin. Kaz again: "We're going to accelerate the expansion of PSP's world with PSPGo." October 1st in Europe and US, November 1st in Japan.
Tempted to put my hand up and ask if you can access the App Store with it. Might not though.
The translator's losing it. Come on Madam, keep it together. "PSPGo is really an ultimate choice made for those users who can use the Network conveniently."
PSPGo and the PSP-3000 are both major players in entertainment. What about the DS? Oh yeah.
PS2 now. Definitely a bit last-gen. Penetration is 135.8 million units, 21.5m in Japan.
Just a stream of numbers now. Basically, they've sold a lot of PS2s.
Nice graph to illustrate this. And now, PlayStation Network. So far, this has been like watching QVC.
A graph. It goes up. It's a different colour though. Accumulated sales as of June 2009 exceeded 25 billion Yen, and they reckon it'll triple this year.
That's well over a hundred pounds, readers.
They want to expand the entertainment world to a non-gaming genre.
Back to the interactive elements. "Let's take the element 'watch'. We introduced a new video distribution service in the US, 300 movie titles at launch and 1200 episodes of TV drama. Today we have more than 13,300 TV dramas and 23,000 movies, and this service is going to be expanded outside the US."
As he said at gamescom, they're introducing it in Europe this November.
Now he's talking about the recent firmware update released on 1st September. Show us your wand again, Kaz!
PlayStation Home. "More than 8 million users in the first ten months." The number is "literally" growing.
He's talking about the Red Bull space. Perhaps later he's going to chill here on the deck?
PSN is going to evolve in the future, perhaps somewhat predictably.
"We want to work with the games industry members and users to offer enjoyable entertainment experiences. Thus we'll be able to realise a future which can be pictured with PlayStation."
"Please visit many booths and enjoy the show."
Er, that appears to be it. A Japanese lady is on the stage now. There's going to be "a dialogue". Kaz is going to talk to a Japanese journalist live on stage, looks like.
The journalist in question is Mr Asami of EKBP. Seems like they help organise TGS. "We think the entertainment industry is very strong in Japan, so we'd like to talk with Mr Hirai about the future of the industry."
Kaz has jetlag, apparently - he just got back from the US yesterday. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are very popular there, he points out.
"Enjoyable games have the added brand strength of the Beatles, so there's much more attention and build up of excitement." It's not just games journalists who are writing about it, but proper journalists too.
Mr Asami says the games industry is at a turning point. Games have become more mature and a new innovation is expected.
Kaz says there's the element of 3D. There's "considerable attention" focused on this.
The Sony group has talked about how it will be focusing on 3D - Stringer talked about this. They would like to push 3D for PS3.
What does Kaz think about 3DTV sets in the home? "I did feel it was quite enjoyable," Kaz says of the time he had a go. "3D is suited for TV, films or games, but when it comes to films, CG-based content would be the easiest to make for this technology, so when it comes to games there are considerable expectations people have."
Mr Asami is bringing up the magic wand. Is there a lot of evolution room there? "Yes I think so," says Kaz. "I've always felt that when you're enjoying games, there may be a buildup of excitement or sadness or joy... But it's not possible to reflect your emotions into the game... I think we haven't really realised the potential yet."
For example, maybe RPG characters could interact with you - saying "you look excited" or sad or whatnot.
"The basic idea is to express emotion." Why not try doing that with some kind of chip, Kaz?
Maybe games could measure your "heartbeat or body temperature or sweat" but "it's not realistic to have sensors all over your body". Take THAT, Mr Iwata. But maybe, says Kaz, some non-intrusive technology could measure that sort of stuff. How about a magic wand, for example?
"Emotional input is still not fully developed... I think the games industry can still develop even more. One of its unique characteristics is that as technology develops, the way you express things, the number of colours on the pallette increases as technology develops."
"A little while ago a network was a nice thing to have, but at this point, if you don't have connectivity you're not really there." It's a bit like air conditioning, says Kaz. What?
He's banging on about LBP again. "If you have the added element of network connectivity, you can broaden the enjoyment." As those who have made the transition from jazz mags to internet pornography will surely agree.
Mr Asami: "You are head of Sony Computer Entertainment, but you also have another hat to wear." Please let it be a sombrero.
Oh. It's being in charge of product development or something.
A sombrero would definitely liven up this Q&A session. Mind you, so would a small balloon.
Network network network blah blah value to users network network etc etc.
"The PlayStation platform, as I said earlier, enriches games... Players are the first priority we always have to keep in mind." If he says network again I'm walking out.
"Everything will be based upon network, again." /coat
What messages does Kaz have for publishers? "This is the age of the network." No kidding. "You may have heard this many times." 47 in the last eight minutes.
Global market network network network franchise titles network.
And that's it.
So there you have it. Today's keynote was brought to you by the letter "network" and the number "network".
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