LOS ANGELES — Who are the hundred million mainstream families that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are chasing with new motion controllers, games and consoles revealed at this week’s E3 conference?
They’re not necessarily newcomers to video games. They may already have an older console and might be thinking about an upgrade, especially if they’re going to buy a new TV.
That’s according to PlayStation’s Peter Dille, senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America.
During an interview at the show, Dille described some of the nuances of the three-way battle between the companies.
For instance, he said Sony is hoping that its Move motion controllers will make the PlayStation 3 more appealing to families who bought a Wii a few years ago and now want to get more into gaming.
“If you look at someone who has had a Wii in their house, to me there is a more natural progression to our platform than the 360,” Dille said. “You’re probably talking about a family looking for entertainment, and the PS3 device is something that can deliver entertainment for the whole family. … It’s not just a platform that’s got a lot of first-person shooters on it.”
Here’s more with Dille:
Q. Will the Wii need an upgrade to compete now?
A: It’s already slowing down. Back to momentum, we’ve got wind in our sails. The same can’t be true about the other guys. We’re happy to have that be the case this time around.
Q: What do you think about Microsoft’s Kinect?
A: I’m not sure that those experiences are as good as what we’ve got to offer. Of course, I’m biased and you look to push your own stuff, but the range of content that we can develop with PlayStation Move is vastly superior to anything on either of the other platforms. We can tap into casual family games, as well as make games that I think core gamers will really care about.
It appears very casual. I haven’t seen any sort of core game experience that you’re going to play with Kinect and they have a very core base, so they appear to be doing something very different. They’ll have to keep their base happy and try to appeal to someone they’ve never been able to get on their platform.
Q: Why are you releasing the Move in September?
A: It’s always nice to be first; first is not necessarily the only thing, though. It’s really about having the right product and content along with it. I think we’ve got that whether we’re first or not. We see this not just about selling PlayStation Move but using Move to expand the installed base of PS3s, to families looking to get on board for the first time or maybe a core gamer who’s got a competing console and wondered, well, maybe it’s time to upgrade to PS3 and get Blu-ray and everything else into my house.
Q: Microsoft’s talked up Kinect’s ability to control a TV. Is that the plan for Move?
A: You can. … I’m not sure that’s going to be the preferred method of accessing entertainment content on our system.
Q: Microsoft’s connecting Kinect cameras to its Live Messenger service, extending it to a huge audience. Will Sony do something similar with the PS3 Move and Eye camera, perhaps with Google, with whom you’re partnering with on entertainment services?
A: Nothing to announce today, but certainly we populate a lot of living rooms with a lot of cameras and there are all sorts opportunities. Right now we’re focused on the gaming aspects of PlayStation Move and feel like that’s going to be the big driver to get them installed.
Q: You’ve talked all along about the PlayStation Network being free, but now you announced a paid tier. What’s the motivation there?
A: The thinking behind PlayStation Plus is there’s a hardcore gamer out there who’s looking to get the most out of their services and is interested in a suite of services and a suite of content that would be willing to pay a premium for it.
Q: Will a paid network subscription be required to play games like “MAG,” from your Zipper studio in Redmond, that are played online and powered by expensive servers?
A: “MAG’s” not going to be rolled into this in terms of PlayStation Plus. But I do think we’re looking across our portfolio at different games and should there be some sort of additional subscription or fees associated with some of these other games. They are costly to run and we are looking to make money.
Q: You didn’t refresh the PSP handheld. Do you think it still has legs?
A: We do think it has legs. We’re looking to push the audience a little bit younger. That’s been a steady progression over the next couple of years …
We see opportunity against teens and tweens and have content like “Invisibles” to maybe go even younger than tweens, down to 6- to 8-year-olds. Our research shows that while cellphone gaming is very popular there’s a lot of kids yet who don’t have phones or are serious enough gamers that they care about a depth of game play they’re not getting on a cellphone.