Dave Karraker, Sony’s new head of corporate communications recently gave Gamasutra a lengthy interview about his history and the upcoming Playstation 3 launch. Karraker’s industry experience included work for Crystal Dynamics, 3DO, and Sega of America. Prior to working at Sony, Karraker worked with Marth Stewart during her prison stay; this type of experience under pressure may be a benefit when trying to work with some of the foot-in-mouth problems some of Sony’s executives seem to have.
Karraker discusses some of these issues in the interview, particularly in reference to some of Ken Kutaragi’s more outrageous statements. He also talks specifically about what he feels Sony brings to the table, including 1080p and Sony’s vision for their online network.
Karraker states that Sony is pushing a more open network where basic functionality is provided by Sony, and third parties will have the option to either provide their own support for matchmaking, ranking, and achievements, work with a third-party provider like Xfire or Gamespy, or work with Sony’s implementation. Not having a universal experience may hurt Sony when compared to Microsoft’s Xbox Live. However, Microsoft’s relative lack of flexibility is not without its drawbacks, either; witness Epic’s problems providing party-based ranked matches online for Gears of War.
Also discussed was Sony’s downloadable game content. Here again, Karraker can’t seem to resist poking at the offerings from Microsoft and Nintendo, stating:
I think what you won’t see is just a flood of games that some might consider to be throw-away games. We’re going to populate the store with true, good games that show off the hardware, so it’s not just going to be a bunch of redos and hacks.
For being Sony’s official mouthpiece for corporate communications, this interview seems to be remarkably straightforward. Sure, for the most part Karraker toes the party line, but there are some good insights in the interview.
Read More | Gamasutra
After Silicon Knights showed off Too Human at E3, the game has seemingly gone underground. Much of the feedback from the show indicated that the game really was not ready to be demonstrated. Dean Takahashi at Mercury News was able to speak with Silicon Knights president Denis Dyack about the game, and his opinion on the next generation consoles. Dyack considers the PS3 and Xbox 360 relative equals, stating, “Maybe the PS 3 has more processing power. The 360 has more available memory…To developers, they look even.” Nintendo’s Wii isn’t even on Silicon Knights’ radar at this point.
While the PS3’s power might be difficult for developers to unlock, Dyack claims that HDMI will make a difference in image quality. His belief is that having a purely digital path has benefits over the Xbox 360’s analog solution. On 720P versus 1080P, Dyack believes that there is less of a noticeable difference. Like make other developers, he discussed the trade-offs between the resolutions, including refresh rates, framerate, and texture RAM.
Read More | Mercury News
A Japanese report in Nikkei Keizai Shimbun indicates that Sony will only be offering 80,000 consoles on launch day in Japan, down from their initial estimates of 100,000. The reason cited, according to GameDaily, was continuing component shortages which have continued to plague Sony’s new console. GameDaily talked with SCEA and there will be no changes in the North American launch allocations. The shift does call into question Sony’s ability to continue to feed hardware into the various markets and may be the first indication that other markets may suffer more intense shortages later.
Read More | GameDaily
GameSpot was recently able to take advantage of some extra time with the Playstation 3 and look into the console’s backward compatibility options. GameSpot wasn’t able to look at a lot of games, but they had enough time to look at a Playstation game, a Playstation 2 game, and a Playstation 2 game from a different region. The Playstation game tested was Battle Arena Toshinden 3, which seemed to work fine. Gran Turismo 4 also appeared to work normally on the Playstation 3, while the Japanese version of Kingdom Hearts 2 was locked out because of region restrictions. None of the games were enhanced in any way by the PS3, as expected. While the tests are interesting, they still don’t detail how Sony is achieving backward compatibility, and there is still no official list of incompatible games.
Read More | GameSpot
Sony has started ramping up advertisements for their new console, and the latest would best be described as bizarre. The abstract advertisement shows a toy baby doll in a bare room with the Playstation 3 going though a gamut of emotions. Sony seems to be playing somewhat off the “2001” monolith-like look of the console, particularly when this is tied to the background sounds used in the commercial. This part of the campaign appears to be more tied to raising awareness rather than informing the customer.
Team NINJA recently announced that Ninja Gaiden Sigma, an upgrade to Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden Black would be appearing on the Playstation 3. 1up was able to speak with the game’s director, Yosuke Hayashi. 1up’s interview goes in depth with the upgrades that will be seen in the new game, Hayashi’s approach to the design of the Playstation 3 version, and Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 hardware comparisons.
While Hayashi claims that the team is “putting the most effort into the graphics,” Team NINJA also appears to be tweaking and adding to the original in a number of ways. First would be the previously announced addition of Rachel as a playable character. In addition, new enemies will be featured, and older game mechanics such as water running are getting revamped. Hayashi, perhaps diplomatically, doesn’t seem to want to commit to specific hardware differences between the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, but makes some comparisons to an artist working in different media. The director also claims that gamers familiar with the series should find enough new content, including new playable bosses, to warrant looking into the game.
Read More | 1up
Sony has updated their PlayB3yond.com website with a couple of new videos, with promises of more in the future. The two new videos, “Smarter” and “Capacity,” attempt to highlight the benefits of Sony’s new console. The videos use new game footage of Resistance: Fall of Man and Warhawk to bolster Sony’s claims, and the Resistance footage offers a little Matrix-like interactivity. While Sony plays a little fast and loose with the media storage numbers in “Capacity,” the videos show off the Sony hype machine firing on all cylinders. It doesn’t hurt that the videos are narrated by Lance Henrikson of Aliens fame.
Read More | PlayB3yond.com
Ubisoft today announced their first semester results, and sales overall were up 13% to €172 million year over year. In addition, the company revised its 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 guidance based on their software line-ups for the next semester and upcoming fiscal year. While titles Assassin’s Creed and Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway have been pushed into the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Ubisoft announced that a new title, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 would be launching in their stead. Ubisoft also announced that seven Wii titles would be available at launch, with seven more following by March 2007, including a mystery title yet to be named. Overall, it appears that Ubisoft is championing their current line-up for next-generation consoles, and is leveraging its position on the Wii towards its revised growth figures.
Read More | Ubisoft
Analyst group IDG has released their latest hardware and software sales projections for the North American and Western European territories, and Next Generation has summarized some of the predictions for the North American market.
IDG believes that in the short term, the Xbox 360 will benefit from general hardware shortages for the Playstation 3 and the Wii; the 2006 sales numbers bear this out, with the Playstation 3 moving just short of 1 million units in 2006, and the Wii moving about 1.1 million. This does seem somewhat at odds with other Wii sales numbers; current Nintendo projections have 1 million consoles available at launch alone, with an additional 100,000+ units shipping to retailers each week. Pre-order numbers for retailers also have been much larger for the Wii than the Playstation 3. It looks like console supply shortages will be the largest impact on Playstation 3 sales.
Still, despite these problems, IDG predicts that the Playstation 3 will overtake the Xbox 360 in the North American market by 2010. It is unclear what “winning” the console war will mean to either Sony or Microsoft, since the lead will be effectively split in this territory. Microsoft’s inability to penetrate the Japanese market may give Sony the edge globally.
The Wii predictions seem on the small side. IDG claims that the bundled Wii Sports may reduce software attach rate, but Next Generation’s excerpts otherwise give little reason behind the software sales projections. They could be basing their numbers on a growth path over the Wii, but the unknown factor will be how well Nintendo does with their “Blue Ocean” strategy to grow the video game market.
Read More | Next Generation
While Sony has been revealing more details about their Playstation 3 online network, a few items have been unclear. Chris Kohler at Wired was able to speak with Jack Tretton at SCEA to try and clear things up, and one of the things they spoke about was if the service would support the “achievements” model as seen on Xbox Live. Tretton’s response was that there would be no “pan-platform” achievements or ranking system in place. Instead, it will be up to each game publisher to implement their own ranking system, and none of the launch titles will support an “achievement” type model. While Xbox Live Achievements have certainly added a new dimension of play to the Xbox 360 (to the point where high gamerscores are being auctioned and farmed) this doesn’t seem like a deal breaker on Sony’s part. Still, it does speak to the relative lack of experience that Sony has in maintaining and planning for a global gaming network.
Read More | Game|Life