Harrison's word

Phil Harrison, Sony's head of worldwide studios, is plump with confidence regarding PlayStation Network Platform, the online aspect of thePS3.

"We are the pre-eminent brand for interactive entertainment worldwide. We have a reach and a market share that dwarfs our competition. Now, maybe in the US it's not such a runaway leadership - Microsoft is definitely a more vigorous competitor there than anywhere else in the world - but in some countries, PlayStation is the videogame business," he told GamesRadar's sister siteNext-Gen.

"The basic [online] service is free. We're taking what we did on PlayStation 2, where online gaming is free, so why should we suddenly charge for it on PlayStation 3? Although, clearly, we are going to have premium offerings where you can pay to download content,"Harrison said.

"By calling [that service] Xbox Live Arcade, it pretty much tells you what it does on the tin. Whereas we're going to be much more entertainment-based, much wider - music, movies, games and other forms of digital entertainment, so hopefully it will have more impact on a mass market," he said.

Obviously, we've no reason to doubt that Sony has a fantastic opportunity ahead of it, but it's got some way to go to trump Xbox Live. Chris Lewis, European boss of Microsoft, was quick to return fire regarding Harrison's sure-footed statements.

"It's flattering to see that our competition rates aspects of Xbox Live and Xbox 360 so highly that they are integrating these features into their own product," said Lewis. "We'll wait and see what actually makes it to market. I've been in the industry long enough to know that initial claims don't always match reality."

March 30, 2006