Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida has revealed a few things about the handling of Demon Souls, The Last Guardian and his thoughts on the Japanese Playstation Vita launch in an interview conducted by Game Informer. Yoshida’s answers are quite honest and thought provoking, bringing an insight rarely seen in the video game world. Plus, it seems that what he has said is pretty much what everyone is thinking.
First up, he talks about the Playstation Vita launch in Japan. He revealed that, despite the drop in sales after the first two days on the market, where 325,000 units were sold, sales are still within expectations. But, compared to their higher expectation, they are disappointed. He identifies two reasons, which he explains below:
There are two major differences. One is the type of lineup that we had for the launch. Games like Uncharted are not a big name in Japan. Hopefully it’s growing in awareness like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. It’s not like this game will sell a million units. Gamers in Japan want games catered to their tastes. From that standpoint we didn’t have a strong lineup for the Japanese market.
The second is the PSP. We’re advertising PSP on TV while advertising Vita. So it’s three portables in Japan.
Yes, they are two valid reasons why the Playstation Vita isn’t selling in higher numbers. However, he does manage to avoid a third reason: price. With both the PSP and Nintendo’s 3DS selling at a lower price point (and with Monster Hunter by their side), consumers won’t fork out for a system with games they do not want to play. Add in the extra cost of said game/s and the memory stick and it becomes a turn off. Digital sales were also discussed. Yoshida revealed that digital sales are growing, but didn’t give a specific number. He also believes that the digital platform will be the number one choice for games over retail if there are smaller games coming out for the system
The Last Guardian and its director, Fumito Ueda, also came up in the interview. Yoshida revealed that “Ueda-san has never left the team. It’s a change of his work status from being an employee to working as a contract.” So he hasn’t left Team Ico, he just works on a contract basis. Team Ico is part of Sony’s Japan Studios, who are behind the upcoming Playstation Vita game Gravity Rush. They have a new head in the form of Allan Becker. He helped found the Santa Monica Studio, who are behind the God of War series, so he knows his way around the Playstation brand. Yoshida added,
“I asked him to move to Japan to instill his philosophy of making games. He’s also bringing these two different cultures together. He started in April last year as the head of the Japan studio and has already made a big impact.”
So, what about The Last Guardian? Yoshida reveals its current progress:
“It’s making progress. There have been technical issues and the engineering team is reworking it. It’s playable, but not to the level of when we can say it’s coming.”
The interview then shifts to Demon Souls. Sony owns the IP, while From Software developed the game. However, both Atlus and Namco Bandai took care of the publishing in North America and Europe respectively. Why did Sony pass up on the publishing duties. Yoshida reveals his thoughts:
“For my personal experience with Demon’s Souls, when it was close to final I spent close to two hours playing it and after two hours I was still standing at the beginning at the game. I said, “This is crap. This is an unbelievably bad game.” So I put it aside.
“Luckily, third party publishers, Atlus in North America and Namco in Europe [stepped in], and it really became a great hit outside of Japan.
“We definitely dropped the ball from a publishing standpoint, including studio management side. We were not able to see the value of the product we were making.”
So an interesting insight with Yoshida. He makes some valid points, but he does avoid the pricing issue with the Vita. However, considering the tech behind it, I do not know why people would want Sony to drop it even further. Even then, he recognises some problems and wants to rectify the situation. Yoshida also commented on the amount of games Sony puts out and how he believes that it may harm each game. You can check it out here.