Nintendo may have technically started the eighth-generation video game console war last year with the release of the Wii U, but it’s Sony that is kicking it into high gear with the launch of the PlayStation 4 on Friday. Next week, the battle is fully joined with Microsoft’s release of the Xbox One.
Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios (the game software side of Sony), sat down on Monday to discuss the latest round of this ongoing epic battle – how the PS4 maker is positioned heading into it, how its competitors are looking and what the future of gaming might look like. (The following interview has been edited and condensed.)
How are things looking going into launch week?
I’m from the developer side so as far as we are concerned, we [have] finished our launch titles. They went through their certifications a couple of weeks ago so we’ve been kind of waiting for the other parts of the PlayStation to get prepared for the launch. The hardware guys finished even earlier, many months before us. There are other parts of development in Sony, like the system software and network services, and they’re working until the last minute so that we can provide the best features. We’ve been waiting till this week to do that.
There are so many people [who are going to be] jumping on to our servers that something may happen. Our team is ready and on call to fix any issues. It should be a great launch.
In terms of the business side, we’ve had record-breaking pre-orders for the PS4 compared to any [previous] PlayStation. That’s fantastic because even up to this year, there was some sentiment in the media that smartphones and mobile devices are replacing game consoles – that people don’t need dedicated game hardware anymore. But if you look at the number of pre-orders we’re getting, it’s a total shift of sentiment in talk on the Internet and in the media [now]. That’s great.
With all hardware now network-connected, should consumers expect bumps in the roads with big product launches like this?
What we have put in the hardware is final so we can’t change it. However, on the system software side we can keep adding or improving features from day one. We already have a roadmap of things we want to do on PS4. We’re always swapping and tweaking priorities on our task list based on the feedback we get from consumers and media. That includes fixing some issues at launch. We are totally prepared for any issues we might find after the launch and we’ll continue to add features that are missing or that people find useful.
Sony has positioned the PS4 as the console for core gamers, yet Microsoft’s Xbox One has a greater number of big, core games coming on day one. Is this a concern for you?
We’ve always believed since the announcement [of the PS4] earlier this year that we’ve designed the PS4 to be the most powerful and capable system to run games on and the proof is in the pudding. The best way to look at comparing systems is to compare the [third-party] games that are available on multiple platforms, which have started to appear in the media over the past couple of weeks. I’m very happy that people are seeing the proof. People who have chosen PS4 must also be very happy.
Many consumers were upset by Sony’s recent announcement that the PS4 won’t play CDs, MP3s or stream videos from a computer.