Speaking to IndustryGamers, Sony are suggesting that publishers are not only now more supportive of the PS3, but Sony’s platform actually serves publishers better than its closest rival, Microsoft.
Sony are in bullish form. With PS3 shortages in multiple regions, a stellar first-party line-up about to kick-off with Heavy Rain and the PSN quoted as their “not-so secret weapon”, dare we say it, 2010 might actually be the year of the PlayStation.
Rob Dyer, SCEA Senior Vice President of Publisher Relations, in what we think was a very candid and open discussion, has spoken about Microsoft’s head-start (and how Sony are out-performing them in every area bar the shooter arena), how publishers are a lot more supportive of the PS3 in general (just ask EA regarding the great success Madden was on Sony’s platform, and Activision whose Guitar Hero franchise is seeing year-on-year growth only on the PS3) and, while Microsoft will “throw dollars” to secure exclusivity, Sony – who have their own fair share of exclusive titles – prefer to invest in first-party studios, of which Microsoft “have very few.”
Dyer has been taking the Sony success story around the world; visiting publishers and gauging their attitude to the PS3 in general. He says:
“I’ve been on the road literally non-stop since the beginning of the year with every top 15 publisher, and there’s been nary a word of discouragement. Having been in Japan, and here with EA and Activision and Ubisoft, and everyone else, it’s good to walk in there right now versus, say, a year ago when it wasn’t so easy.”
Dishing out numerical data like it’s going out of fashion, Dan hammers home the fact that, if you take into account Microsoft’s one-year head-start and the current user-base, Sony are coming out as over-achievers.
“They had a year’s head start against us, so we’ve been playing catch-up ball. Before the price cut, they had a two-to-one advantage; if you were a third-party publisher looking at the index, you should have been selling twice the number of units on the 360 as you would on the PS3. So what we did when following a particular title was see if we over or under-indexed against that. So anything below 2, we over-indexed, meaning we did better, and above 2 meant it was under-indexing. What it shows you is that as our installed base has been growing, we’re now down to a 1.6 to 1.0, and what we’ve been finding is that outside of the shooter category we literally over-index every single category – sports, fighting, action/adventure, music, etc. We do better for our publishing community than 360 does.”
“With a title like Madden, I think the index was 1.4 to 1.0, which meant we way oversold on PS3 versus 360, given the installed base. That’s only going to get better and better as the installed base continues to grow.”
Dyer also hones in on the added-value the PS3’s Blu-ray medium gives developers, quoting recent success stories such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Madden and Dante’s Interno.
“I point to a couple big examples. One is Batman: Arkham Asylum, with what the guys at Eidos and Rocksteady did, and I point to Madden and the unique campaign EA put behind it with us, showing promotions that were very PS3 focused. And that really drove sales.”
Regarding the hallowed ground of exclusivity, Dyer is also pragmatic about where Sony is in the gaming industry; a world that includes a competitor with almost unlimited purchasing power.
“We’re not going to get the exclusive games. The Mass Effects, Gears of Wars and Left 4 Deads aren’t going to happen nearly as often. But we have our own first-party development and exclusives like Final Fantasy XIV and Agent. Exclusives just aren’t as commonplace as they were during the PS2 days. […] So what we’ve been doing is going to publishers and using that as our basic story, and going after exclusive content. You’re going to see a lot of that, and for example, you’re seeing it now with Dante’s Inferno. EA had the collector’s edition only on PS3. They filled up that Blu-ray disc and were able to do a lot more that they couldn’t with 360. The consumer is starting to understand that – there’s a lot of cross-ownership between PS3 and 360, and so we’re now trying to differentiate that and give that consumer a reason to buy the PS3 version instead of the 360 version.”
Finally, and in what some might interpret as a touch disparaging, Dyer is almost dismissive of Microsoft’s current stable of big hitters and the future of similar titles coming out on the Xbox 360. He says:
“They have very few first-party studios at Microsoft. Bungie’s next Halo is the last one, Rare rarely puts out anything, you’ve got Peter Molyneux with his Fable stuff… but they don’t have first-party development studios inside at Redmond or anywhere for that matter. We do. So rather than putting their money behind that, they’ve been going to Epic or Valve or BioWare to do what they did with Mass Effect, and that’s where they throw their dollars.”
The interview is a treasure trove of interesting statistics and an insightful glimpse into the precarious publishing industry. We’ve touched upon the main points here, but it’s highly recommended you check the full piece.