Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
07 November 2006
Decent PR from Sony, finally
The Gamasutra interview that Brandon "whoa" Sheffield did yesterday with Dave Karraker, new senior director of corporate communications for Sony, confirms some things I've said here before. For example, Karraker says (my emphasis):
We were allowing media to drive the message for us, and interpret it for us. [...] Now we're very aggressively defending our turf, and attempting to right all the wrongs that have been said about us in the past, which includes misrepresentation of quotes from our executives. I think you've probably seen the difference, just in the last couple months, where if somebody goes out and says something negative about Sony, we're not going to sit back and allow that. We're going to position it properly, and provide the facts.
That reminded me of what I wrote back in June, right after SCEA's publicity chief resigned:
When such [damaging] stories come up, I think it best to apply overwhelming force, through the press, and stamp [them] out immediately. If you're lucky, you'll kill it. You can't rely on the press to fix it for you on their own.
Then, back in July, I proposed that Sony should start answering more questions immediately and clearly define the PlayStation 3. Then after the Tokyo Game Show, I pointed out that they hadn't managed to answer any of those questions in a serious way. Karraker addresses this pretty directly, again my emphasis added:
I think there has been a lot of negativity around Sony recently just because people have such high expectations for the system. And I think following recent events like Sony's Gamers Day, where we answered a lot of those questions - what are the games, what's coming in the box, what does the online service look like - the tide has kind of turned a little bit. We're seeing a lot less negative stories about us, unrelated to batteries, and people are starting to ask questions about Microsoft.
I wondered why that didn't happen at TGS, and the answer is in Karraker's hiring date: Karraker apparently joined Sony only a week before the show. No doubt the entire TGS plan was already determined by that point. Given that Sony's only gotten better since TGS at providing useful information and making the case for the PlayStation 3 more aggressively, I cringe to think who planned what was shown at TGS.

Later, on page 3 of the interview, Sheffield asks why there aren't more budget titles in North America, as one can find in Europe and the UK. The answers don't entirely make sense to me. Karraker does say this:
Yeah, that's all based on the market. It's all based on what the market will allow.
I wonder if this isn't some sort of code for "the market is filled with filthy pirates over there!" On purely anecdotal evidence (ergo a possibly ill-informed prejudgment) my impression is that Europe is host to a strong market of illegal copies, and to combat that difficulty Sony Europe is willing to flood the market with lower-quality budget titles. If Americans are less likely to pirate, then we don't get the piles of cheaply made games. With all the licensed garbage we already have on the shelves, we're better off without.

This guy, Karraker, is still trying to spin some unspinnable points, however. Anyone who thinks that the PSP is doing "incredibly well" is just deluded. I'll permit that the PSP is improving -- it's getting more interesting games -- but it's far from what Sony (or the press) expected before its launch. Sony needs a better way to address that question when it comes up. And the dismissal of the appeal that Nintendo's Wii will have with the (so-called) hardcore gamer could well turn out to be a miscalculation. Still, I'll give the guy credit for pushing some of my buttons: he drops a hint that emulated games on the PSP will be $5 a pop (is he talking PSOne games?), that the entire Turbo-Grafx 16 library could show up on the PS3/PSP, and then finishes with "Panzer Dragoon, man, that was the game." If he's not really a gamer, he does a decent impression of one.

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--Matt Matthews at 08:54
Comment [ 2 ]

Comments on this post:

I'm impressed at how many disasters this man has been present for. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he was on the Titanic.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 07 November, 2006 10:12  

What I've heard, on the budget games point, is that Sony hasn't changed their licensing fees since the PSOne days, so budget games in the U.S. are barely viable even on the publisher side. I can't confirm this, but it'd make sense for him to answer it that way, if it's true - rather than saying 'budget games suck and we don't want them on the system,' which is what I always thought it was...

By Anonymous brandon, at 07 November, 2006 13:30  

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