Kaz Hirai Interview May 2008
Our latest 1-1 chat with Sony's global PlayStation boss on everything from farm animals to PlayStation 4.
Kikizo: Right. One thing that [Xbox EMEA boss] Chris Lewis went on record quite some time ago now, in an interview with me is that they had already begun development on their next system. I was amazed that this was something that he actually said on record, to be honest with you. [Kaz smiles] But one thing that it did underline is how early development begins and how rapidly hardware becomes old. I know you mentioned a ten-year lifecycle for the PS3, but as the top man in the organisation, how far ahead do you have to think for what comes next?
Hirai: Well I think in any given moment, you need to think both short-term - so, what are we doing next fiscal year, how do we grow the current business - but at the same time, you also need to look four or five years out as well. To say, OK, what is the consumer wanting to do in interactive entertainment five years from now, what can we as a platform holder propose, if you will, to the consumers, to say maybe we should so this or that, and make sure that we keep the consumers engaged, and really also make sure that we are leading the market as opposed to following it. So discussions are happening all the time, about both our short term plans - what are we doing this fiscal year, next fiscal year - as well as, what is the world going to look like, what is the landscape going to look like five years from now, or ten years from now.
Kikizo: Probably going to change rapidly, I would imagine...
Hirai: I think so, I think so. But at the same time, I think we have proven with two consoles already that when you say it's a ten-year lifecycle, it's a ten-year lifecycle. And we have the luxury I think of being able to keep that long lifecycle going, which means that we don't need to be talking about our next-generation platform, because again we have a very stable [current] platform. And we certainly don't want to confuse the consumers once again, by talking about something that may or may not happen five years from now. And that's something we're talking about and discussing up here [taps his head] in the company, but it's not something we talk about openly, again for fear of confusing the consumers. And quite honestly, I think the PlayStation 3, we've repositioned it, and it's got quite a long way to go. I mean we're just starting here.
Kikizo: And on that note, some people including some of the more high-profile analysts in the industry have been saying that 2008 is going to be "Sony's year" - how does that make you feel, because you don't want to get too comfortable, I would imagine?
Hirai: I don't think in this business anyone can get too comfortable. And I think that some of the strategies we have put in place, and I think that some of the repositioning that we have done for the PlayStation 3, the increased support that we've tried to have with the developers and the thirdparty publishing companies, those strategies I think are proof. So I am very happy that the message is really starting to resonate, and that some of the analysts are saying, "this could be our year". So I am very pleased that things are certainly turning around. And at the the end of the day, it really comes down to the games, first and foremost.
Kikizo: And finally, it wouldn't be an interview with us if we didn't talk about the controller, as we did in both of our previous ones - which led to some interesting developments. Obviously we now have the DualShock 3 available in Japan. But when we last spoke, you said that you were considering functionality in the controller beyond rumble. And I am just wondering if that was misinterpreted [by me], or if your plans have changed or something.
Hirai: No, I think, obviously we have brought the rumble back into the formula for DualShock 3, but you can always come up with a variety of different ways to interface with the console; for example, I mean we have done things in the past like the EyeToy camera, or the PlayStation Eye, as we call it for the PlayStation 3. So, we do look at a variety of different options; a lot of it is talk; most of it unfortunately - or fortunately maybe! - doesn't make it to the final product. But we have a lot of different ideas, some of which we may decide to bring into the controller at a later date, or it could be something that's a completely different input device, like the PlayStation Eye for example.
Kikizo: Sure, cool. Well thanks very much for your time for time, again. Can I grab another up-to-date photo of you as well?
Hirai: Haha! Well I haven't changed very much...
Look out for our forthcoming exclusive interviews with the top development brains behind MotorStorm 2, Little Big Planet and Resistance 2, plus plenty of other impressions. We may add audio of this interview a bit later. [Update - it's now added].
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Kaz Hirai Interview
Kaz Hirai Interview (May 2008 - audio only)
Kaz Hirai Interview
Kaz Hirai Interview (July 2007 - audio only)
Kaz Hirai Interview
Previous interview with Kaz Hirai (Sep 2006)
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