Phil Harrison Takes Stage at DICE...
Update 4: A question about the PSP and its success came about, asking Harrison why hasn't the PSP delivered that same console entertainment that Sony had promised. 'What's taking so long?' was the gist of the context. Harrison replied by mentioning that thus far the PSP has managed to recreate a PS2 in the palm of your hands, but that there was room for improvement. He notes that the PSP has a number of future features lined up for it that will continue to shape the unit.
When asked what games Harrison was currently playing, Harrison scrolls over to Super Rub a Dub, a downloadable game of ducks in a bath that was originally shown off as a PS3 tech-demo years back. Harrison then talks about installing an OS into the PS3 like Linux, but makes a note that Linux is not for developing full-fledged PS3 games. He is then asked about the Unreal Engine not being able to use the SPUs (Synergistic Processing Unit) of the PS3, and if Sony has an option available to fix this? Harrison retorts that it isn't a fault with the PS3, it is a fault with the engine itself and its design. He mentions that the Havok engine is perfectly capable of utilizing the SPUs of the Cell processor, and that games like MotorStorm are already using them. He adds that Unreal Engine is not the only option out there for developers and that they are free to use which ever engine they'd like.
Update 3: A question about EA receiving
special treatment from Sony was quickly debunked by an EA
employee in the audience. Harrison moved on and a question asked why
Sony didn't flat out copy Xbox Live feature-for-feature. Harrison
replied by informing the audience that just because a feature
doesn't exist on the PS3 today, doesn't mean it won't exist
tomorrow. The console is not fixed, nor will it stand still;
it'll evolve with time. Harrison states that Sony has an
aggressive outlook of adding necessary features, as well as
software. He reiterates that the content is also free of
Shortly after that statement, a question grilled Harrison claiming that the reason why those features aren't present on the PlayStation Network is because the network is free, and thus Sony can't afford to add them unless they charge. Harrison's reply states that isn't true at all. Sony doesn't need to charge in order to make money, there are various other options for them to earn revenue. Harrison adds that they will make an announcement on that matter shortly that should add some clarity to this issue.
A question asked Harrison what he thought were the key features of Xbox Live, and if Sony had a timeline for having these features implemented into the PS3. The reply went fairly unanswered, as Harrison simply stated that Sony is already delivering a worthy online experience with games like Resistance offering a 40-player experience, and MotorStorm offering an insanely fun 12 player experience. But he mentions that Sony has more to do, and they will do it. He couldn't comment on the timeline of the features.
Croal then mentioned Gabe Newell calling the PS3 a disaster, which was met with a chuckle from Harrison. Harrison simply said that he thought it was a great quote. But the grilling continued, as he pressed Harrison about the launch of the console, citing shortages, an average launch line-up and ultimately asking why wasn't the launch delayed into Spring? Harrison replied by mentioning his appreciation of Gabe Newell as a developer, but not his comments. Harrison then goes to counterpoint the question by stating that people across the world lined up in hordes for the PS3. That the console sells out as soon as it appears on shelves. And that the supply of the PS3, during the same timeframe, is better than that of the PSOne and PS2 before it. On top of that, with more software than ever before.
He states firmly that the European launch is completely on track, and that the PS3s are currently en-route from China to Europe's ports this very minute. Harrison adds that the same issues that the PSOne and PS2 endured were quicky gotten over and forgotten about; he expects that same outcome for the PS3 soon enough. It's a issue that plagues every console launch, not just Sony's.
Update 2: Croal didn't throw Harrison any soft pitches, as he made asked Harrison about Sony's 3rd party relations woes, and that developers suggest Microsoft's support is better than Sony's. Croal also mentions that PS3 development-kit documents were only in Japanese, to which Harrison quickly counters. Harrison firstly states that perhaps the words of the developers aren't false, and that Sony can always supply better support in the form of tools and service. But he states that the documentation being only in Japanese is completely false. The only time that had occurred was back when the original PlayStation was released. But he continues to note that a majority of the PS3 was created in English speaking parts; such as the Cell processor, which was developed in Austin, Texas. Harrison ends by stating that they will continue to improve as much as they can, but still understand that not everyone will be happy.
Croal continued with a question pertaining to the development difficulty of the PS3, claiming that developers feel that the PS3 is a pain to work on, compared to the Xbox 360. Harrison replied by making a sort of vague-ish statement about how developers don't always want full-blown access to a console's strength, they want abstraction and libraries (development code, not game libraries). So that's what the PS3 offers, a lot of power on hand, but tons of potential left to be discovered.
Harrison also mentioned that Sony's 1st party developers are offering assistance, feedback, and support for 3rd party developers more so than ever before, and vice versa. Croal then asked if the original PS3 launch was supposed to be a worldwide 2006 release, why was it that Japanese developers were the first to receive SDK PS3 kits (developer hardware)? Harrison corrected him by stating that it was actually US developers who got the SDK PS3's first.
Update 1: N'Gai Croal of Newsweek sat on stage with Harrison and is asking im a number of questions, none of which Harrison has seen before. Harrison will also allow the audience to ask him questions after Croal is done.
The first question pertained to games in development that reach out to the casual gamer. Harrison's reply was that there are plenty and talks about "social gaming", stating that Sony's casual-gamer titles such as Singstar and Buzz have been responsible for this. He goes on to state that the Singstar franchise has went on to ship over 7 million copies to date.
Harrison then powers up the PS3 and downloads a song for a Singstar PS3 demo - and the download was being performed in the background, while Harrison was doing some browsing. A feature of this PS3 Singstar will include the ability to record a video of your singing (with a USB camera) and upload it to a network, which will allow for people to rate your performance.
Stay posted for more!
It's 12:45PM as I write this, and in just 15 minutes, Sony's Phil Harrison is expected to take the stage at the D.I.C.E Summit. Sony Online Entertainment executives will also be making a few speeches, which we will deliver the details on very shortly. But clearly our focus would be on what Mr. Harrison has to say, as we expect some decent PS3 announcements and hopefully a game or two revealed.
Stay posted to this news article as I will continue to update it with every noteworthy news bit Mr. Harrison drops.
2/8/2007 Arnold Katayev