Sony: PS4 is the most powerful gaming device ever conceived
5th Jul 2013 | 11:13
More big PlayStation 4 announcements coming at Gamescom
The PlayStation 4 made its debut on UK soil this week, with Sony's retail partners and key press invited to a location in London to see the new console in action and play the new games.
At the event we caught up with Fergal Gara, VP and managing director at Sony Computer Entertainment UK and Ireland.
We asked Gara if it was true that Sony had changed its plan to bundle the PlayStation Camera in order to undercut the cost of the Xbox One. IGN reported that was the case last month, citing multiple sources. But Gara denied this, saying the PS4 price was in place long before the Xbox One cost was revealed.
"It can't be true because we couldn't possibly have known what the Xbox was going to cost," he said.
"What I'll say is, lots of ideas were considered you know, lots of different combinations and of course price was I think fairly clear from a very long time out but you know everything about PS4 is about giving gamers choice. So if you don't want a camera you don't have to have a camera. If you want to trade in games, you can trade in games. So there's been nothing in the whole proposition that is overly restrictive and I think the reaction has proved that people value that."
Gara reiterated that Sony's main goal with the PS4 was to deliver the most powerful console at a price that gamers consider to be acceptable, underlining its perceived status as the next-gen games console designed exclusively for gamers.
"The thing I'm most pleased about is the entire design principles about the PS4 are being focused around the gamer first. So how can we create a platform that's great to develop for and easy to develop for, because that unleashes the creatives and if they can create the best experiences that's going to lead to satisfaction for gamers.
"But secondly to design a piece of technology like that it's very easy to deliver one or the other, in particular I'm talking about the price and the performance trade off. It's very hard to deliver both and for me the balance that's been delivered across those two is outstanding. So it's great to be going to market with what we believe is the most powerful gaming device ever conceived and certainly ever developed and at a price that feels very acceptable, certainly based on the pre-order volumes that we're seeing."
Gara also highlighted the PS4's 8GB of super-fast GDDR5 memory as a key spec where the PS4 has a strong advantage over the Xbox One.
"We have the most uncompromised memory spec that we could pretty well dream up and if you talk to developers, if you talk to first party, third party developers, you'll see that that opens up the possibilities for them and it's about as high spec as they could have ever imagined, 8GB gives them huge headroom to continue developing fantastic games."
We asked whether Microsoft's decision to backtrack on its controversial policies regarding DRM, used games and online check-in had been a disappointment to Sony, given the tremendous amount of negative energy in the gaming word surrounding those features.
"Look here's a phrase for you that someone I worked for once gave me which is, 'if you do things first you do it for your customer, if you do it second you do it for yourself'. What I'm most pleased with is that we've had an agenda for a long time now and all we've done is stick to our agenda. So it is tremendously rewarding that your agenda appeals to the people we most want to appeal to and that we don't have to change, we just keep focused, we keep going the way we were going for many many months and years now, certainly as we've clarified details we've changed not a thing."
It seems logical that while the PlayStation 4 will launch for £349/$399 without the camera, that doesn't preclude Sony and retailers putting together bundles that includes other items such as the Camera or PS Vita for a higher price. Gara didn't confirm any specific bundles but did indicate they are on the way.
"We're talking to retail about bundles but of course we don't need to formally create bundles so they're in the one box necessarily, the way UK retail is it's quite flexible really so we can create soft bundles as we call them. But it's great to see that the retailers are hungry for these kind of conversations, they're seeing the potential. They want to talk to us and the PS4 and Vita devices put together is not a huge amount more than the PlayStation 3 was when we launched that."
Word from retailers thus far has been that the PS4 is well ahead on pre-orders, and Gara confirmed he was hearing the same information.
"Based on feedback yes [we are ahead on pre-orders]. But what we say as a team is that we've had a good few weeks but we're in for the long game. So lets be satisfied but lets keep our heads down, keep focused and realise that it's a long game so success is not realised way before launch. It's a good start but there's much much much more to go."
To end the interview, we asked Gara what pledges he could make to gamers that the PS4 would remain the console to have in the long term.
"I think the last 20 years shows that we're in it for the long haul! There's more to be revealed around services and what else is going to come with the package you know, when it launches and what more can people expect so we'll go into more detail about that probably around about Gamescom time so we won't go into that today but take it from me, we designed the machine for the long haul."
We went hands-on with the PS4 at London's PlayStation Summer showcase on July 4th. See how we got on: