[Interview] SCE President Speaks of PS Vita TV

2013/09/12 10:26
Tadashi Nezu, Nikkei Electronics

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (SCE) offered a round table interview with SCE President and CEO Andrew House to reporters Sept 10, 2013.

Responding to the reporters' questions, House spoke of the "PlayStation (PS) 4" next-generation stationary game console, a new model of the "PS Vita" portable game console and the "PlayStation (PS) Vita TV," which can be connected to a TV for using video services and playing games.

PS3 games might be distributed for PS Vita TV using cloud computing

House: The "PS Vita TV" is like a small set-top box (STB) that allows to play various games. It is connected to a TV via an HDMI cable. With the PS Vita TV, it is possible to download not only games developed for the PS Vita but also games developed for the first-generation PlayStation and PSP via the Internet.

In the future, SCE will offer games developed for the PS3 to PS4 and PS3 by using a cloud-based game distribution service. Technically, the PS Vita TV can support such games. Therefore, SCE is considering providing PS3 games to the PS Vita TV by using the service in the future.

In addition to games, web browsing and e-mail, the PS Vita TV supports video distribution services, flat-rate music distribution services and electronic book distribution services.

Targeted at families, casual gamers

House: Google Inc's "Chromecast," Apple Inc's "Apple TV," etc are considered as rivals to the PS Vita TV. As an advantage of the PS Vita TV, SCE emphasizes that it allows to use a variety of games.

At this point, more than 1,300 titles of games in various categories can be played. They have a wide price range, making it easy for users to buy them. With the lineup and prices, we can reasonably expect that the PS Vita TV will gain in popularity.

The PS Vita TV was developed mainly for those who have fun with contents with family members in a living room. The concept of the PS Vita TV was created in about August 2011, four months before the release of the PS Vita. After that, SCE discussed it many times and started the development of the PS Vita TV in earnest about a year ago.

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Speaking of the games for the PS Vita TV, SCE expects that they will be played by casual gamers rather than serious game lovers, at whom the PS4 is targeted. Expecting such users, the company set a goal to sell the PS Vita TV for a price lower than ¥10,000 (approx US$99.5) at the beginning of the development process. In fact, the price of the PS Vita TV is ¥9,480 (excluding tax).

The PS Vita does not have an output port for video. But, if an HDMI port is added to the PS Vita and it is connected to a TV, the PS Vita can realize a function similar to that of the PS Vita TV. However, in that case, it would be difficult to play a game with family members.

On the other hand, multiple units of the Dualshock 3 controller (for the PS3) can be connected to the PS Vita TV. So, it is possible for multiple users to play a game while watching the same (TV) screen. This is a big difference.

At first, the PS Vita TV supports only the Dualshock 3. But it will become possible to use the Dualshock 4, a controller for the PS4, with the PS Vita TV in the future.

For casual users, there is the "PS Mobile" game distribution service for smartphones and tablet computers. In other words, there are two "entrances" to the PlayStation platform that SCE offers for casual users. Of the two entrances, the PS Vita TV allows to enjoy the PlayStation world more in the true sense. It is because game controllers such as the Dualshock 3 can be used.

SCE takes aim at Asian market

House: SCE will release the PS Vita TV in Japan Nov 14, 2013, and in other countries after that. The reason why it will be launched in Japan earlier than in other countries is that there is no leading company in Japan's video streaming market. The company is planning to sell the PS Vita TV in China, South Korea, etc, but not in the US and European market at this point.

In the Asian market, SCE has high hopes for the Chinese market. This is not limited to the PS Vita TV. This applies to all of SCE's products.

At this point, the Chinese government prohibits the sales of home-use game consoles, but we expects that the prohibition will be dropped.

So, if the sales of home-use game consoles is permitted in, for example, the free trade zone of Shanghai, it will create a big business opportunity. We have high expectations for that.