Sony boss Jack Tretton thinks that the PlayStation’s “worldwide” appeal means that an eventual PS3 victory in this generation of the console wars would be the best scenario for the industry as a whole.
In a recent interview with Forbes, the SCEA president talked about his company’s position compared to its primary competitors in the console space, Nintendo and Microsoft. Tretton complimented Microsoft’s cash reserves, saying that the Xbox manufacturer could afford to be patient on recouping its investments, whereas his own company was more “profit-driven.”
On the other hand, said Tretton, you had Nintendo, for whom “features are nice” but “profitability is king.” Of course, the Big N’s extreme success in the casual market plus its courtship of younger gamers since the days of the NES has landed the Japanese company in an extremely advantageous situation where it can essentially “print money.”
As for Tretton’s own Sony? “I think we like to see ourselves somewhere in the middle,” he said. “We don’t have unlimited money, we cater to a more mass market audience. I think we’re willing to take a little bit more risk than a competitor like Nintendo is and ultimately we deliver to the masses on a worldwide basis and that’s what we’ve done for the last 15 years.”
The real kicker is Tretton’s momentary lapse into the mindset of Kaz Hirai circa 2006: “In an industry that’s certainly had its challenges this year, we like to say that the environment where PlayStation wins is best for this industry, because we have a brand that can play on a worldwide basis, young and old, male and female, where our competition tends to be relegated to either select regions or to select consumer audiences.”
You know what, Jack? I think you and your company have a mighty fine machine on your hands, but you may just be confusing “best for the industry” with “best for Sony.”
Allow me to offer a hypothetical counterpoint: As Sony is currently leading Microsoft in Japan with a much closer race in Europe, it would be best for the race to become more equal than it actually is. Microsoft needs to catch up in Japan, and Sony needs to catch up in North America. Otherwise, a one-sided domination means that there is little incentive to improve on the next iteration of the console.
Furthermore, an environment in which the only advances that come down the line are shinier and higher-definition graphics, resulting in games that take longer to make and are more expensive when consumers don’t have that much cash to burn? That strikes me as the opposite of “best for the industry,” personally.
Sorry, Jack – I’m not sold on it.