Interviews

Sony's Fergal Gara on PS Vita launch: 'We're seeing encouraging signs'

SCE UK's managing director on early sales, price cuts and future plans

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We're not going to quote numbers today, but I think we all know what a successful launch looks like.

I think Sony said it sold more than 500,000 PS Vitas in Japan - have you got the latest Japanese sales figures?

That's the last number released; I don't think we've published any updates since then, but it continues to sell well.

David Wilson, UK PR head: That's in the first two weeks, up to the first week of January.

In December, Andrew House stressed to us how important for Sony the PS Vita's launch is. Is that the case in Europe as well as Japan?

Absolutely: we haven't had a launch for five years, and the industry hasn't had as fresh a new launch, I guess, for many years. We saw a significant iteration on the DS last year, but we see the PS Vita as more of a start-again console. It isn't an iteration on the PSP - we said: "OK, let's package up everything we've learned from our PSP experience and everything we've learned from the broader market, go back to basics and design something from the ground up".

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The market needs something fresh and new. I think the market is ready for it - the UK market in particular, where console penetration is extremely high. And I think it's very important for the PlayStation brand, because the story we're not really hammering hard at this early stage, in order to keep it fairly simple, is the whole Cross-play story - something which is powerful today, and will become more and more so as the developers get to grips with its possibilities. It's what I call a better-together story: the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita are each other's best accessories.

Apart from WipEout 2048, which games support Cross-play?

MotorStorm RC is probably one of the best examples of where, for less than a fiver, you get the console edition and the portable edition. So really, we're packing a lot of value and the whole PlayStation ethos into that title.

Is it true that playing PS3 games on the PS Vita via Remote Play has been blocked?

Jonathan Fargher, SCEE PR: We haven't blocked it. We showed the Killzone camera, streaming games to the PS Vita, but regarding that specific feature, we'll be making more announcements in the near future. As you know, PS3 firmware updates add new functions all the time.

FG: I think we're getting our heads around what it is we want people to be able to do, and what we should promote. With or without that remote Access, I think there's a huge amount in Cross-play that remains to be explored.

And the AR games remain something of an unwritten book, although there are a few at launch like Fireworks and Table Football. Is that something Sony is looking to push later in the year?

We haven't seen where the studios may take that concept, but I think at the launch, we've packed a lot of free and interesting games in, and a lot of free demonstrations of what the possibilities are. I think that's a great studio. Where we'll take it, via the Sony studios or third-party ones, isn't clear yet.

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You alluded to 3DS - which didn't sell well until Nintendo dropped the price. You get an awful lot for your £230 with the PS Vita, but is a price-drop on the radar?

Not currently - it will take several years for this investment to p[ay back as it stands, so if we have to do more with the price... Clearly, we'll have to view how consumers respond - do they value the amount of technology packed into that box? One benchmark I would draw is that it is round about half of the price-point of an entry-level tablet, and considerably less than a high-end smartphone.

So, what's the appropriate point of reference for its price? We need to wait and see, but we believe it's a step-change in performance and a step-change in capabilities compared to what people could do before.

Picking up on the Nintendo example, it's not for us to comment on their performance, but I would say that the strength of our software has been demonstrated very well, and that was on our to-do list early last year: to launch with strong software and to make sure the supply of quality software was maintained through the year and beyond. So we hope to start better, and that agenda will continue.

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