Interviews// Exclusive: PlayStation President, Kaz Hirai

Posted 28 Sep 2007 12:45 by
SPOnG:: Do you think the original PlayStation 3 price-point was a mistake?

Kaz Hirai: No, I think the original price-point was the right price-point, evidenced by the issues we had at launch when we couldnít supply enough units to consumers in the Japanese market and the North American market, and it was a huge challenge to try and meet that demand because of all the production issues we had.

It wasnít a pricing issue, it was a supply issue. Fortunately for the European launch, we were able to bring enough units to meet that demand, as well as supply a robust software launch. We had a lot more success in the European market because of the sheer number of hardware units as well as the software titles we were able to bring.

SPOnG:: The games industry is a huge, gossiping sewing circle. There was chat that Ken Kutaragi was left somewhat disgruntled, or that he was sidelined. Can you outline how he moved and what is your official line on this?

Kaz Hirai:: Whether itís official or unofficial, anyone whoís spent any time with Kutaragi-san knows heís a very passionate gentleman with a lot of great ideas, one of which resulted in the business we call the PlayStation business. Heís launched four platforms, and I think heís gotten to the point where he wants to try out other ideas beyond the PlayStation business. He told me the other day, ĎIím not getting any youngerí.

SPOnG:: Youíre still in touch?

Kaz Hirai:: Absolutely. Heís our honorary chairman, he swings by the office once in a while Ė if I ask him for advice, heíll give it to me. Heís not engaged every day anymore but if I ask him to be engaged, he will be, and in the meantime heís pursuing his other passions and dreams.

SPOnG:: And what are his other passions and dreams?

Kaz Hirai:: Well, he hasnít really shared them with me just yet, but I think heíll share them with the world when heís ready to do so.

SPOnG:: You originally touted Gran Turismo Mobile as coming early-phase for PSP. Thereís still no sign of it. Thereís a lot of frustration amid the GT fanbase and with PSP owners. How did this game go from being due around launch to today when it still isnít even on the radar?

Kaz Hirai:: Itís basically an allocation of resources. Polyphony isnít such a huge team, given the kind of massive titles they bring out. I think Kazunori (Yamauchi, president of Polyphony Digital and the inventor of Gran Turismo) and his team looked at the platform mix and, with the management team at Sony at the time, decided that Gran Turismo 4 should take precedent. Thatís my understanding, though I wasnít involved in the Tokyo business then. That would be myÖ I wouldnít say guess, but that would be my assumption.

SPOnG:: So, when will it come out?

Kaz Hirai:: Iím not exactly sure.

SPOnG:: Well, what about Gran Turismo 5 for PS3? Whenís that coming out?

Kaz Hirai:: Gran Turismo 5? Well, heís working on that right nowÖ Prologue will be out this year.

SPOnG:: And the final game?

Kaz Hirai:: Not sure at this point in time.

SPOnG:: Ish? A guess?

Kaz Hirai:: Not sure at this point in time.

SPOnG: Many thanks for your time.
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Comments

Showing the 20 most recent comments. Read all 23.
haritori 30 Sep 2007 14:38
4/23
smoothn00dle wrote:
haritori, who are u kidding with? Sony has over 500 games in developments. U expect Kirai to know every single one of them?!?! That is not even his area of speciality. It is common practice in interview to give out the questions to the interviewee. If Hirai knows those were his Qs, I will be surprise he even show up.

Every human should be treated with respect, even interviewee. Not to mention, Kirai is the CEO of one of the most successful company. He did good in PS and PS2 era. Ask him a question, the interviewer know he didn't know. That's cheap shot. If is Bill clinton, he would have Stefan Walters for breakfast.


no Sony does not have 500 titles in development, Sony have far less that 500 includes 3rd party devs, he should know all Sony Development titles. and if Hirai took the decision to continue interveiw without knowing what the questions were that was his choice, but isuppose your right cos you say so?
smoothn00dle 1 Oct 2007 07:37
5/23
Sony has 250 games coming to PS3. Majorities are first party game. It has three hardware platforms, PS2, PSP and PS3. Sony has first party development on all three platforms plus PSN. Can u tell me how many games Sony has in development right now?

Hirai's job is balance strategies, resources between Sony's different divisions. Another top responsibility is building Alliance. He rarely do interviews. What are wasting of opportunities here!

The question I would want to know:
1 What do Hirai think about competitors' weakness and strength?
2 How does Sony response to Xbox360's multi-platform strategy?
3 What is Sony's pricing strategy for 2007?
4 How Blu-ray strategy fit into PS3 without isolating 3rd party developers?
5 How is Sony's home strategy work with video download services?
6 How much is PS3 cost to make now?
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tyrion 1 Oct 2007 08:49
6/23
smoothn00dle wrote:
The question I would want to know:

Let me answer them for you, I have seen enough interviews with shareholder-concerned executives to give a 90% accurate guess at how your questions would be answered.

smoothn00dle wrote:
1 What do Hirai think about competitors' weakness and strength?

Kaz: Non-committal answer that basically says that Nintendo is doing it's own thing and doesn't worry us and that Microsoft is a worthy adversary but will lose in the end. Plus, we have our own game plan and aren't influenced by the competition.

smoothn00dle wrote:
2 How does Sony response to Xbox360's multi-platform strategy?

Kaz: Non-committal answer that points to UT3 mod exchanging between PS3 and PC. Plus, we have our own game plan and aren't influenced by the competition. Have you seen Home? It has website integration.

smoothn00dle wrote:
3 What is Sony's pricing strategy for 2007?

Kaz: Non-committal answer that states that even though I can't discuss that with you, we do have one and we're happy with how things are going right now.

smoothn00dle wrote:
4 How Blu-ray strategy fit into PS3 without isolating 3rd party developers?

Kaz: Non-committal answer that says that Blu-ray gives much more room for artistic expression, sly dig at last gen DVD format.

smoothn00dle wrote:
5 How is Sony's home strategy work with video download services?

Kaz: Non-committal answer that states that Sony has a movie studio and that SCEE is investigating the licensing issues. We may all be called Sony, but we're different departments you know! :-)

smoothn00dle wrote:
6 How much is PS3 cost to make now?

Kaz: Non-committal answer that states that even though I can't discuss that with you, we are making improvements in efficiencies and will be passing those savings on to the consumers at the appropriate time.

Honestly, these guys are so well trained that the only way you will get an honest answer out of them is if you ask a question related to what they are pushing at the time or if you go all Casino Royale on their man-parts (to use a Spam euphemism) and torture it out of them.
Tim Smith 1 Oct 2007 10:07
7/23
smoothn00dle wrote:
This is poorly done interview! The question isn't balance, irrelevant and focus on one side only, the bad side. GT5 and PSP Qs? This question should be for Philip Harrison, the head of Sony first party development. Hirai is the head of Sony Computer Entertainment, focus on Strategic issues like Pricing, Marketing, production and management. How did he find time to know every single game development? The interviewer didn't do his homework.

This is ambush interview see "Bill Clinton interview with Fox". Why the hell Hirai except an interview with those guys? Poor judgment call.


Hi, I've got to say that being compared to Fox News is one of the greatest insults I've ever received - so thanks for that - I am beaming.

Now for some context: our interviewer managed to get a very, very brief few minutes with Hirai-san, quite unexpectedly. In the time allowed, the idea was to ask questions (on the fly and without preparation as it goes) that would receive answers and not simply be met with media-trained blandness.

Rather than the Clinton vs Fox (or vice versa) situation whereby Clinton was prepared for an interview that didn't eventuate, but which was always going to come via the Fox agenda, our interview was - until a few moments before - not even expected by us!

As for our bias - we're multi-platform as you can see from the recent set of review scores for both Sony and Microsoft.

This was a case of grabbing an opportunity as it arose - more like Hunter Thompson and Nixon in the limousine in the lead up to the 1968 election. I guess, you'd be slamming Thompson for only interviewing Nixon about football rather than Bobby Kennedy.

The idea of not asking the head of a division about one of the biggest franchises that division has, strikes me as strange in itself.

As for the 'question isn't balance' - that's simply nonsense; it's also a classic confusion of 'balance' with 'positive'. We do not set out to ask, "Hi, why is everything going so brilliantly?", "Why are you so great?"


Cheers

Tim - Bill O'Reilly - Smith

I jest of course...
Tim Smith 1 Oct 2007 10:33
8/23
smoothn00dle wrote:
haritori, who are u kidding with? Sony has over 500 games in developments. U expect Kirai to know every single one of them?!?! That is not even his area of speciality. It is common practice in interview to give out the questions to the interviewee. If Hirai knows those were his Qs, I will be surprise he even show up.


Sweet gods above - have none of you ever heard of "using your initiative"? Sure it's common practice in to 'get approval' on questions - it's a pain in the backside, but it's been the case since Brutus was interviewed about house-plants shortly after murdering Caesar. It's the game play out between media and subject. But it is not always the case.

Every so often a moment occurs when you just do the bloody interview because a potential interviewer is there in front of you, standing in the corridor, looking bored. Or maybe you've managed to get into an interview room with other hacks and pose a few questions that they haven't - and that haven't previously been prepped.

Sometimes large companies in our industry aren't so totally paranoid or distrustful of their senior executives that they demand to see questions in advance. Thank heavens for that - and well done.

If we don't grasp opportunities like that - hell, you all might as well just subscribe to press release lists. And I am not only talking about Sony here - it's the whole industry - it's all industry.

smoothn00dle wrote:
Every human should be treated with respect, even interviewee. Not to mention, Kirai is the CEO of one of the most successful company. He did good in PS and PS2 era. Ask him a question, the interviewer know he didn't know. That's cheap shot. If is Bill clinton, he would have Stefan Walters for breakfast.


Well, if you're going to treat him with respect - then at least get his name right before pontificating about respect. Or are you confusing Hirai with Kutaragi? Either way, at no point do we even imply that he didn't do well.

What you're saying here is that we should only ask questions that we already know that the interviewer has a pat response to? Brilliant strategy.

So, I shouldn't ask William Clay Ford, Jr about the Ford Taurus safety rating because Billy is simply head of the company and that's probably too detailed for him? Rubbish. If he doesn't know, all he has to do is to say, "Wow, that's a bit too granular for me, I'll get someone to get back to you", and then follow up - showing respect for his consumers (and potential consumers) via the medium of... well... the media.

Read Hirai-san's answers once again. The things he can answer, he does. Those he can't, he doesn't. He is polite, unruffled and refreshingly frank when he can be.

As for Clinton having Stefan for breakfast - firstly I'm not contending with that image on a Monday morning. Secondly, if Clinton honestly didn't realise that he was going to get a hard time on Fox, then you've got to wonder about his judgement generally.

Cheers

Tim



Tim Smith 1 Oct 2007 10:45
9/23
smoothn00dle wrote:

The question I would want to know:
1 What do Hirai think about competitors' weakness and strength?
2 How does Sony response to Xbox360's multi-platform strategy?
3 What is Sony's pricing strategy for 2007?
4 How Blu-ray strategy fit into PS3 without isolating 3rd party developers?
5 How is Sony's home strategy work with video download services?
6 How much is PS3 cost to make now?


Good stuff. There's an industry journalist budding away. Please feel free to email personally with any more thoughts.

Cheers

[email protected]

Joji 1 Oct 2007 15:27
10/23
Interesting interview, but I understand where the interviewer stands. Its not easy to interview within five minutes of an elevator ride or something.

There's questions I'd like to ask them.

What's the deal with Sixaxis and how did it come into PS3s plan?
Was it in responce to Wii, as many say?
What happens to Sixaxis once Dual Shock 3 is out?
Why do Sony react so badly to gamers importing games, when piracy is a worse non paying evil?
Payment for import games or free games, which is better?
Do they think their decision against Lik Sang help or hindered them this gen?
Why does PS3 have such bizarrely priced skus, when compared to 360?
On PS3 backward compatibility, why can't your Sony consoles run every game while Nintendo's Wii can GC games?
What happens to Sony's future console development, if PS3 goes out like Betamax?
What have you best learned from the competition to your benefit?

Thanks foolz.
PreciousRoi 2 Oct 2007 00:03
11/23
[quote-Tim Smith]Hi, I've got to say that being compared to Fox News is one of the greatest insults I've ever received - so thanks for that - I am beaming.


Its also terribly unoriginal...I did it first...and best.
tyrion 2 Oct 2007 08:41
12/23
PreciousRoi wrote:
Tim Smith wrote:
Hi, I've got to say that being compared to Fox News is one of the greatest insults I've ever received - so thanks for that - I am beaming.


Its also terribly unoriginal...I did it first...and best.

To me, if I remember correctly. I was equally insulted. :-)
Tim Smith 2 Oct 2007 09:19
13/23
PreciousRoi wrote:
[quote-Tim Smith]Hi, I've got to say that being compared to Fox News is one of the greatest insults I've ever received - so thanks for that - I am beaming.


Its also terribly unoriginal...I did it first...and best.


Roi! What can I say? I apologies for not being insulted by you first. Jeez, I feel as bad as Bill O'Reilly at a "Be Human" convention.

Cheers

Tim
schnide 2 Oct 2007 09:56
14/23
PreciousRoi wrote:
Tim Smith wrote:
Hi, I've got to say that being compared to Fox News is one of the greatest insults I've ever received - so thanks for that - I am beaming.


Its also terribly unoriginal...I did it first...and best.


Of course! You didn't even need to tell us - we all remember that, right guys!

Right guys..?

Guys..?

(Fade out)
hollywooda 2 Oct 2007 10:25
15/23
"haritori, who are u kidding with? Sony has over 500 games in developments. U expect Kirai to know every single one of them?!?! That is not even his area of speciality. It is common practice in interview to give out the questions to the interviewee. If Hirai knows those were his Qs, I will be surprise he even show up.

Every human should be treated with respect, even interviewee. Not to mention, Kirai is the CEO of one of the most successful company. He did good in PS and PS2 era. Ask him a question, the interviewer know he didn't know. That's cheap shot. If is Bill clinton, he would have Stefan Walters for breakfast."


Man, you couldn't get anymore of that guys cock in your mouth if you tried??!!! haha.

i thought Spong done a good job of Giving sony the sharp end of the stick & highlighting the fact that...
things are looking pretty dark..
Tim Smith 2 Oct 2007 12:07
16/23
hollywooda wrote:
i thought Spong done a good job of Giving sony the sharp end of the stick & highlighting the fact that...things are looking pretty dark..


It's amazing how different people read the same thing. I see Hirai-san saying some good stuff about his predecessor; standing by the price point; and maybe being a little off-beam with the fine detail of GT (but up on his Polyphony game - pun intended). I see him using supporting history to maintain that Sony has always had a fight on its hands - even from Day One vs Nintendo and SEGA - it's been able to achieve sales. I don't see that we've highlighted "things are looking pretty dark".

For example, there's insight in there about Kutaragi and Kazunori that no other interviewer's managed to extract yet.

What we're trying to achieve - and it's a battle and a half (can you have half a battle?) - is to ask questions that make the interviewee and readers think a little more than, "Tell us why the competition is thick and lame" or "Tell us why Game X is great / s**t " or "Why are you rubbish and Y is so brilliant?"

I guess all this goes back to the famous quote: "There's no such thing as a dirty book - it's just the way you read it" - (The Sensational) Alex Harvey (bless him).

haritori 2 Oct 2007 12:25
17/23
Tim Smith wrote:


What we're trying to achieve - and it's a battle and a half (can you have half a battle?) -


I believe you can but i think it involves Batley Townswomens' Guild & the Battle of Pearl Harbor
Tim Smith 2 Oct 2007 12:38
18/23
haritori wrote:
Tim Smith wrote:


What we're trying to achieve - and it's a battle and a half (can you have half a battle?) -


I believe you can but i think it involves Batley Townswomens' Guild & the Battle of Pearl Harbor


No! No! The (semi) horror! The (semi) horror. Not the BTG again.

Damn them! Damn them all to hell.
PreciousRoi 3 Oct 2007 05:00
19/23
I know, the fanboys on each side of the ball need to retire to neutral corners, and some more mixed sports metaphors and suchlike. They're agreeing on something, and thats never a good sign.

Much Ado About (almost) Nothing.

tyr, nice answers by the way, at this point I might make some comment about the job waiting for you at Sony PR...but that joke is old and tired and only funny when I use it. :P



vault 13 31 Oct 2007 06:11
20/23
I would of asked him three questions:

1)How do feel about Microsoft's current market share and future plans about console dominance?
2)What kind of underwear do you have on right now?
3)Will you be upset if they get soiled if Microsoft destroys them like they did Sega?
Tim Smith 31 Oct 2007 11:41
21/23
vault 13 wrote:
2)What kind of underwear do you have on right now?
3)Will you be upset if they get soiled if Microsoft destroys them like they did Sega?


Microsoft destroyed SEGA's underpants? That is some damned underhanded business dealing!

Tim

Roderick 14 Aug 2009 22:26
22/23
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Kasia 5 Sep 2009 14:01
23/23
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I am from Peru and learning to speak English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: "Also also a music sexuality, due oi!"

With respect :D, Kasia.
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