Head to head
An immense cheer erupted during Sonys E3 2013 press conference once it was announced that the PS4 would be $100 cheaper than Microsofts offeringand that it will impose no used game restrictions, nor does it require a constant internet connection. We had the chance to sit down with Scott Rohde, the PlayStation software product development head for Sony Worldwide, to talk about Sonys reaction to Microsofts announcements, as well as its plans for PlayStations future. Heres what he had to say.
GR: How are you feeling following Mondays conferences?
Smiles all around, punctuated by the end of that conference with a $399 price announceit was so fun because youre sitting there, watching the whole show unfold, and you know all thats coming. Youre just waiting and waiting and then Jack [Tretton] came out, punch after punch, and at the very end, guess what? $399. Every single time I talk about this, I literally get goosebumps because it was that exciting.
GR: Did you have any guesses as to what Microsofts pricing plans were for the Xbox One prior to their announcement?
We anticipated that Microsoft might be higher, but we werent sure. So when they announced, all day [Monday] was super exciting and super tense as we were getting the last details together, but to see it all come together was fantastic, so were super excited and happy for PlayStation fans.
GR: A lot of people were a bit surprised that the PS4 is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, what was your reaction to that disparity in price?
Thats something we set out a long time ago to achieve: the most powerful console at an affordable price. Kudos to the guys in Japan, all the engineers, and guys like Mark Cerny that really worked hard to make that happen.
GR: Walk us through what was going through your mind during Microsofts press conference on Monday
They didnt talk much about features, they just talked about gamesI think they listened as well, and said okay, people want to hear about games, so they showed them. We just kind of smiled and said okay, they look good, but we have a lot of a great games, and were pretty sure we have really good policies and a price thats going to trump everything. So we watched, we thought it was exciting, I thought it was a good conference, but we knew what we had in store so it was exciting to us.
GR: MS has adopted some rather controversial policies for the Xbox Onewere these things, such as a required Internet connection or used game restrictions, considered for the PS4?
I think the key difference here is required. Were any of these things discussed, as in would these be good options for people? Of course they were discussed. But we never really reached a point where we said oh, this is required. The word required is a tough word for anyone to swallow. I think a lot of what PlayStation stands for is that flexibility, and that freedom, and that ability to take what gamers want, what retailers need, what publishers need, and put that all together into the fairest package possible. Thats what we did.
GR: Was the PS4s price point or policies created in reaction to the response garnered by Microsofts announcements?
I can honestly say it wasnt reactionary. It was something we had been planning for a long time. The opportunity to announce it the way we did came based on all the crazy feedback that hit all of us personally with very emotional outpourings of please, PlayStation, save gaming. So why not? The time between Microsofts first press conference [on May 21, 2013] was hard for me because so many people were saying, What are your policies? What are you going to do? Please dont do this. We knew we had the right set of policies but we wanted to announce it in a fun way. It was hard to wait, quite frankly. It was worth every minutebiggest cheer Ive ever heard at a press conference was when those policies were announced. It was amazing--slightly sad that that is what everyone got so excited about, but it just shows how everyone has such an emotional attachment to the way they believe gaming should be. We heard it loud and clear.
GR: What has been the response from developers on the PS4s design?
Its been very positive across the board. We talked about that in February, I mean those guys were involved years ago. Its hard for the general public to grasp how, you know, PS3 comes out and pretty soon right after you start thinking about the PS4. Its been a long road. Again, it wasnt just lip service, a lot of those developers were absolutely involved, both first and third party. Because they were so heavily involved, theyre liking it. The PC-based architecture makes it a lot easier for people. The PS3 is very powerful, but it takes a bit of work to get that power out of it. Its a lot easier to make that transition to the PS4.
GR: What were some common requests from developers while the PS4s features were being discussed?
Every developer on the planet is always going to want more RAM. I mean, thats just the easiest, lowest common denominator. I think we made them extra happy when we put the fast RAM [GDDR5] in there. That is something theyre excited about. Its a pretty significant advantage we have over Xbox One.
GR: What are you looking to the most about the future of games?
Just thinking about how it will be much easier to dedicate lots of processing power to just physics, and the volume of enemies on the screen. There are going to be experiences that you havent had before. Or the pure size of a worldyou saw that Bungie demo, the world just looks so immense. Thats what Im excited about, is to see where we can go. And the reason Im excited about it is because no one knows. No one knows where this is going to take us.