SCEA President Jack Tretton spoke with MSNBC about his outlook on the Playstation 3's future.
A year after accepting the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), Jack Tretton has presided over arguably Sony's roughest system launch to date. As the company faces its second holiday season with a larger library of software (but still sorely lacking in key titles Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII), MSNBC took the opportunity to talk with Tretton about Sony's lineup in both the near-term and distant future.
Kristin Kalning: Some of the bigger titles, Metal Gear and Final Fantasy, aren't due out for a bit longer. That's got to be a nail-biter for you guys because those are huge titles.
Jack Tretton: The beauty of this business is that it isn't all about one day, it isn't all about one title, or one month. I think there's a tremendous amount of software for the holiday season - 160 games coming out on PS3 alone for this holiday, on top of the 200 games that have already been out there, so there's more than enough great software for consumers to sink their teeth in for the holidays. And as you pointed out, there's some absolute blockbusters coming post-Christmas. So, hopefully, a lot people go out and buy the hardware and enjoy the great software that's available for this holiday - but I think they also have some great software to look forward to in the first quarter of 2008.
KK: Getting back to last year and the PlayStation 3 launch: What do you think worked for [Sony] in the past year?
JT: I think we have a tremendous amount of PlayStation fans that who have seen innovation from us and seen creativity and seen risk ... I think they get bored with the tried and true. I think there's a real temptation if you've had success in the past to just take the same page out of the book. But I think consumers saw an experience in PS3 that was unlike anything they'd seen before.
Another thing that I think really strikes a chord with PS3 consumers is that we're giving them everything they need, in the box, day one. Our competition talked about the fact that they want to offer consumers a choice, but then they make it clearly apparent that if you really want to have the full gaming experience, you need to go out and invest a lot more money than you originally thought you were.
KK: Have you learned any lessons from the PS3 launch?
JT: Lessons in that when you're making claims about when a unit is going to be available, you'd better be crystal-clear on what your manufacturing capacity is.
I think we knew there would be pricing sensitivities and I think we've certainly seen that. But I think the challenge of educating consumers on the technology is something that - I don't know that we underestimated, but it remains a formidable goal. The days of just "Here it is, here's what it cost, plug it in ... and start playing" are over. There's a learning curve a consumer needs to go through before they make a decision on which platform to buy, and I think it's a lot more complicated than it was five, 10, 15 years ago.
KK: So, if next-gen was Internet-connected consoles and high-def, how long do you see this generation lasting?
JT: I think it should last for 10 years. I think we've got more technology under the hood and more growth potential in terms of what developers can do with the software than we've had in previous generations.
If you summed up the mission statement for PS3, it's short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. There was clearly an easier route to go, but we think the route we're taking is the one that's going to pay dividends for years to come.