Interviews// Ray Maguire - Sony Computer Entertainment's UK Managing Director

Probably over four times PlayStation One, and close to double the amount of PS2s

Posted 1 Feb 2007 10:00 by
Grey Imports
SPOnG: Sony has been very hard on grey-market imports in the past. But you wouldn’t be able to keep a lid on, say, European websites undercutting UK retail. Will Sony try to put a lid on that sort of action?

RM: No, there’s free trade throughout Europe – it’s when products come in from outside Europe that we’re concerned. The thing that really concerns me is regional coding. Whereas games are not a problem, many people will be buying PlayStation 3 because, not only is it the world’s most powerful console, but it’s also a great Blu-ray movie playback device. And you won’t be able to browse in HMV or Virgin and pick up your Blu-ray disks because our region isn’t supported.

Some people will always go to the ends of the earth to get things a couple of quid cheaper, but if you want decent service, consistency and you want things to be focused and a structure to be there, you need to support the territory that has to look after those customer issues. If a product is brought in from abroad, I don’t make anything, so there is no money going into support from us.

SPOnG: I’ve heard there will be a million units throughout Europe for March 23. Is that accurate? And how many will come to the UK, given that we’re the biggest market in Europe?

RM: We are the biggest market in Europe. It depends on which number you read, but we roughly constitute just over 22 per cent of the market in PAL – I say PAL rather than Europe, because PAL now extends out to over 100 territories, and some of those territories are quite strong. For instance, we have some of the strongest Middle Eastern and Russian sales forces compared to competing products.

That means my overall number is a bit lower than it would be if I had a less well-established product. So, we’re round about the 22 per cent mark which, if you divided that into the million would give you 220,000 units. I think if I go down on bended knee, I might get a little bit more.

So, I will try to get as many units as I possibly can. But it will certainly be the biggest launch that the games industry has ever seen, in terms of Day One numbers into the marketplace. Probably over four times PlayStation One, and close to double the amount of PS2s. So, it’s going to be a logistical nightmare – that’s a lot of trucks to get around. Product is already on its way, on ships, at the moment, and there is more being generated every single day.

SPOnG: Is production up to full capacity? How many are you churning out each month?

RM: It still varies – fundamentally, yeah, things are looking good. The chip yield has never been an issue – that’s really exciting, because it was a huge gamble to get the Cell chip produced in mass numbers. And the issues surrounding the Blu-ray diode have got better and better as production goes on, which is exactly what happens in mass-manufacturing.

SPOnG: There must also be a sense of relief, after the delay?

RM: Absolutely. It’ll be great to finally unleash it upon the world in every area, and give people a chance to see exactly what the machine can do first-hand. Because I think PlayStation 3 is such an all-encompassing product that it’s hard to grasp all its elements until you see it and touch it.

Once it’s out with general consumers and they’re seeing it for the first time in many cases, then I think our job really begins. As people get an idea of what they want – more games, better games, wider genres – and we start making sure the games really start doing justice to the 1080 panels they’ve bought, then that’s the start of things.

SPOnG: Thanks for your time, Ray.
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