A quick chat with Shuhei Yoshida: PS4, Delays, Dark Souls & more

E3 was one helluva show this year, with both Microsoft and Sony bringing their 'A games' to the LA-based gathering. In the latest issue of Edge, the team took the time to catch up with the president of Sony Worldwide Studios (and social media darling) Shuhei Yoshida to discuss everything from Xbox One's backwards compatibility to the progress of The Last Guardian.

What’s going on with development of The Last Guardian?
The game is in good shape. What we showed in video format is totally playable and is one section of a larger level. I believe we are showing behind closed doors the actual live code of that level. The reason we’ve shown it at this E3 is we have good confidence in the way development is going. We completely rebuilt the game in terms of the technical side – the PS3 code was very optimised for PS3 and it took lots of effort, but still the game didn’t reach the performance it needed, and features were missing. It was clear the game design had to be compromised to make it work on PS3, and PS4 was coming, so we decided to do it on PS4. And it took a long time to rebuild it on PS4, but now we have the tech foundations and toolset and the team.

Given the differences in architecture between the two consoles, that must have been a tough process.
Really, really tough. Especially because we were not sure if the game could be made. Tech issues aside, the game was still early in development, so we had to have a really strong desire to continue the project and rebuild on PS4. And of course we believed in the vision of Ueda-san, and Ueda-san and the core teams really wanted to see this realised, and so did I. Having so many people asking us about the game was great encouragement for us to continue the development.

There were rumours ahead of the show that PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny was part of the team that was working on it.
Mark is giving advice, as he does to many first-party projects. Because the tech issue was a big one, Mark is helping a lot and giving good advice, but it’s not like Mark took over the project.You could never have cancelled it, could you, after all those years?If everyone stopped asking about it, probably we would have.

Shenmue III is obviously going to need a lot more than the $2 million Kickstarter target – are you going to support it, to ensure it’s released?
The way our third-party relations team has been working with Suzuki-san is the same way they’ve been working with many indie teams; SCEA and SCE Europe have brought lots of indies on the stage. The difference is that Suzuki-san announced the KickStarter at our E3 press conference, and we wanted to make sure the KickStarter was going to be successful. So there was no better way to announce it because millions of people were going to watch it. And it was successful! When indies are making games that are very promising, SCEA supports them in many different ways, including financial support, to make sure the game is realised and works on PlayStation. And that’s the same situation with Shenmue III.Uncharted 4 slipping to 2016 is unfortunate.

Could you have shifted resources to the project in order to ensure that it launched in 2015? Is that kind of switch even possible?
We wish it was that simple. As far as we are concerned, the game cannot be made in time with more money. When an experienced team like Naughty Dog say they need more time, we believe them. And we support them. So we announced Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for October, and we know that lots of people who own PS4s did not own PS3. So, for many people, Uncharted 4 might be their first Uncharted. And so instead of that – and lots of people asked for it – we’re saying, “Please try Uncharted 1–3 – they have great stories and characters, and they will prepare you for an even

As you saw in the conference, there are lots of big third-party titles coming out around Christmas time, so there’s no shortage of great games that you can play on PS4 this Christmas. What do you think is the big PS4 game for this Christmas?So, of the games that were in the show: Destiny and Call Of Duty, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Star Wars: Battlefront. And other games that were not in our show – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Mad Max and Fallout 4 are looking great. These games are going to be huge games for this Christmas. the perspective from those journalists and some consumers saying we don’t have exclusive games this year. But if you look at it, we are planning to release about ten games from first-party studios from now until the end of December, this calendar year. And many of them are really interesting, creative games like Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, The Tomorrow Children, Guns Up, Until Dawn, Tearaway Unfolded. These might not all be blockbuster triple-A titles, but we are making sure that the people who have a PlayStation 4 can I totally understand experience a variety of titles, from big blockbuster games to very creative, interesting experiences.

Microsoft had a couple of little digs in Sony’s direction during its briefing, and managed to make a lot of noise with backwards compatibility. What is your response to that?I was very surprised. It must have taken lots of effort for them to realise the backwards compatibility, because the Xbox 360 and Xbox One use very different kinds of architecture. And I’m very curious. They showed a very short list of titles that work, and doing software emulation means you have to work title by title. So I’m curious to see what kind of games will be included in those 100 games that they say will be compatible by the end of the year.

We don’t have backwards compatibility with PS4. With PS Now you can play PS3 games on PS4, but the main purpose of PS Now is a network service. By removing the requirement of games running on the console itself we can bring PlayStation games to multiple devices, including non-PlayStation devices. We just announced an alliance with Samsung in the US so people who purchase Samsung TVs can play PlayStation games on their TV. So that’s the main purpose, not to provide backwards compatibility.

I totally understand people asking for it, and if it was easy, we’d have done that. But our focus is creating PS4 games and adding new services. remaking games on PS4 makes the games even better – with The Last Of Us, you can play at 60 frames per second, and the same goes for Dark Souls II. Actually, I just finished Dark Souls II again on PS4.

Did you play the DLC?
Yeah, the DLC’s so hard!

The latest issue of Edge, with Dark Souls 3 on the cover, is out now. Download it here or subscribe to future issues.

Dom has been a freelance journalist for many years, covering everything from video games to gaming peripherals. Dom has been playing games longer than he'd like to admit, but that hasn't stopped him amassing a small ego's worth of knowledge on all things Tekken, Yakuza and Assassin's Creed.