Shuhei Yoshida Interview: The Present And Future Of PS Vita

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As you may have seen from the photo gallery I posted, I spent last week in Tokyo, Japan covering the first launch of PS Vita and finally getting to see this stunning new hardware in gamers’ hands. While I was there, I met up with Shuhei Yoshida, Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment and President of Worldwide Studios, to talk about what PS Vita is set to deliver in spades: great games.


PlayStation.Blog: Many view the PlayStation Vita launch line-up as the best in our company’s history. How long have you been planning it for?
Shuhei Yoshida, President, Worldwide Studios: Full development of PS Vita hardware started in Spring, 2008 when the semiconductor was complete. The great thing is that we [Worldwide Studios] were there right at the beginning to express our thoughts and reactions to the hardware that was being proposed. We were there at every stage and with every prototype, and we developed game builds to prove and, sometimes, disprove how each new feature was going to make for a great game system.
When Kaz Hirai took over management of SCEI he brought in the approach of fully integrating software and hardware development. Before that, we made brilliant hardware, no question of that, but our hardware team didn’t have such a good understanding of what game developers need or what features might be useful.
It is thanks to this way of working that you are seeing such a great line-up, using so many of the system’s unique features; it’s because our developers have been working with them from the moment each was conceived.
PSB: How far ahead are you looking now and what can we expect from the second and third phases of releases?
SY: Generally we look three years ahead when we work on games. We have a fairly firm plan right up to 2013 but, because PS Vita gives us the opportunity to work on smaller titles like Escape Plan and Sound Shapes, I’m certain we will end up working on more games than we even know about at this moment. On top of the launch line-up, we have already announced LittleBigPlanet, Resistance: Burning Skies, ModNation: Road Trip, and Killzone.
In the past we launched PSP and then shifted our attention to PS3 when that came on the horizon, which we now concede was a mistake. So with PS Vita we are working on this huge range titles and planning ahead for a constant supply of excellent games.
PSB: Augmented Reality (AR) has already been used in some great games but perhaps games aimed at a younger or more casual audience. What is going to convince hardcore gamers that it’s a compelling new way to play?
SY: One thing I know about hardcore gamers is that they hate it when we try to shove new technology down their throats. There may be a perception that Augmented Reality is a gimmick, so we have to provide something that is robust and genuinely enhances the experience. You’re right that AR leans more towards a casual or a younger audience but I don’t think that’s a bad thing; I think that it helps PS Vita to be more relevant to a wider group of people. The more we experiment, I’m sure that we will see real gameplay benefits for hardcore players.
PSB: As someone involved in unearthing new development talent, does it excite you seeing smaller teams coming up with really compelling download and mobile games?
SY: Absolutely – my personal PS Vita game is a totally immersive experience called Sound Shapes (which is especially great when you’re wearing headphones). It’s made by Jonathan Mak who created Everyday Shooter all by himself, designing the graphics and even composing the music. With this new game he has some huge ambitions: he has even hired a couple of people!
I’m a fan of these small developers – The best thing is that they have experience in every part of planning, developing and releasing. It’s not like they have left school and gone to work in a team of 100, only ever working on one particular aspect of their game. They don’t follow the traditional game conventions; some of them are very vocal about trying to break those rules. They are the next generation and they will be changing the landscape of gaming long after I have retired.

PS Vita: Sound Shapes

PSB: Is there one attribute that you’re always looking for in a PlayStation developer?
SY: I don’t necessarily work on recruiting any more as there are producers in our studios reaching out and looking for new talent. Each of them has his or her special thing that they look for but passion is the one common attribute. If a developer is asking you what you want them to develop, then that is not a good question; producers are looking for people with conviction in their own ideas.
PSB: PlayStation 3 has introduced predominantly new IPs from Worldwide Studios, whereas PS Vita has a mix of the new and the familiar. What can we expect to see in the long term?
SY: People like to see their favourite franchises, partly because gaming is about learning a mechanic and developing a skill, and players want to use those skills that they have honed. However, when we introduce new hardware with unique interfaces and network options, it is almost easier to work on something completely new. Take rear touch on PS Vita – we’d rather be thinking about how we can make fresh games using that feature than figuring out ways to add it to something that already exists.
PSB: Developers have stated that PS Vita is relatively easy to develop for, but how do you quantify that and put it into some perspective for our readers?
SY: If you’re keeping track of the third-party games that are being developed then you’ll be amazed at how quickly they are coming together. I’ve been working with our internal dev teams on launch games and they’ve had longer cycles because they were also, in part, helping to debug the early prototypes of the hardware and the SDK.
When I saw new developers coming in and getting straight to work on those systems when they had matured, I could not believe how quickly they were getting their games up and running. I have never seen anything like it before. If you want very straightforward evidence to support that, we are launching PS Vita here in Japan with 24 games.
PSB: Which games do you predict will be most popular at the Japanese launch?
SY: Actually, we collect data from retailers taking pre-orders and we know that Everybody’s Golf (note: known as Hot Shots Golf in North America) is the most popular and UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss is number two. I’m very proud that they are both Worldwide Studios titles.
PSB: It’s perceived that Japanese gaming tastes are quite different to those in Europe and the Americas. Do you see them growing closer?
SY: Japanese people traditionally have a strong local preference, particularly with the Manga style look of characters that they love. But as technology and presentation advances in games like UNCHARTED and Call of Duty, they are rightly seeing their quality. Also, it helps that SCEJ paid a lot of money to get Harrison Ford to appear on TV playing UNCHARTED!

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  • Fantastic! Let’s just hope they have learned from their mistakes like Yoshida says for the next generation of home consoles!
    It’s fantastic the amount of games coming out for the vita! I just hope to see a new gta game coming out!!

  • Great interview, can’t wait to get my hands on Vita again :D

  • Monster Hunter. All I want is Monster Hunter. Make it happen.
    I’m buying a Vita day one anyway but apart from a couple of games I’l likely mostly play Monster Hunter freedom Unite on it till a new MH game hits.
    *Crosses fingers*

  • Any chance of a first edition bundle like the us have? But with a 16gb memory card and Uncharted? Or even one at all (so we get it early) thanks!

  • nice interview so does mind sony can start (work on Play station 4 just a though) or is sony still to business working on psvita at this moment of time?

  • Can you make a different Vita blog or an option so I can filter that part away because I´m not interrested.

  • (ADDED) James is there gonna be a psvita Trophy website like for PS3 ?

  • Very good interview. Can’t wait to get my hands-on Vita again. Tried it with Resistance: Burning Skies at Gamescom and it was awesome to play on.

  • 6# Just don’t click on the link? This is a Playstation blog NOT a Playstation 3 blog.

  • james i had a look at the weather for the week ahead and their is no snow for christmas so the weather for christmas weekend will be sunny and but cold

  • Yoshida really is the best thing to happen to SCE in a long time

  • Great interview.
    I’m interested to see how the use of the rear touch and AG will grow over the coming years, and I’m also interested in what’s happening with Killzone for Vita…

  • @yosp is always a pleasure to hear from. He always comes across as more one of us (a gamer) than one of them (a suit). I’ve got my Vita ordered and Uncharted with it.
    Can someone please just get the message across that being able to download Vita software a couple of days BEFORE the hardware is released would be really really handy, just like you can on Steam!

  • Can you guys fix so that we can view Vita trophies when comparing trophies with friends from a PS3? I’m now looking at someones profile. He has 17 trophies, but only two of them shows up. 2 of them are from a PS3 game, and the rest is Vita trophies (which doesn’t show up except for the numbers in the profile).

  • Pretty interesting read.
    The VITA appeals to me in a big way, but the cost of accessories and add-ons does not.
    I love the look of the game lineup, and this time next year, when the average price has dropped (RRP for Uncharted on a couple of sites has the price at £40-45, I can’t justify that for a portable game) and there are either cheaper accessories or some third-party ones, it’ll be added to the collection no doubt.
    Until then, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled on any and all info on it.
    Have a great christmas James, see you in the new year!

  • Hopefully ‘GOD’ Kaz Hirai is cooking up some big PS4 games for day 1 when the PS4 comes out :P :P :P
    + Cool interview;)

  • i find it funny how microsoft is now copying ps3 n now has 4od youtube and lovefilm when weve had it for atleast a year which tells me a new xbox is along time away next thing you know the have an exact xbox replica of the ancient console that was psp

  • I’m not a huge fan that no psv memory card is put into the bundle. Your doing a bit of a sly tactic there Sony to make it appear cheaper.

  • @20 if they would bundle it with, say, a 4GB card and you want a 16GB card, you would end up with a 4GB card that doesn’t interest you, and that you did pay for. that would end up being more expensive for us!

  • Great interview, hope Vita is a big success

  • don´t you just love propoganda i see you uy didn´t include saying how short the battery life is
    the falws in the Vita are pretty mayor

  • @ergioDaly Wow… how the hell does that stop them bringing out the bare necessities to play the games we want. People are going to be buying this and can’t even save games – that is NOT right.
    Could have been 256MB or whatever they want really. Its already bad enough they are making us pay for their own PSV memory cards.
    It is just taking the Microsoft approach. Sell cheap, make accessories expensive.

  • Interesting interview and as someone said the guy seems more genuine than other ‘suits’ who’ve given info on new products or services.
    The question i have about the vita though is can you store multiple games on your ps3’s hdd, then maybe just copy whatever you want to play, that day etc onto a memory card, or is it a case of Having to have a big memory card to accommodate whatever games you’ve bought, only i never had a psp but have read some posts saying, well complaining that there now unable to store games on their ps3. I am a bit confused, i mean to me, it sounds like a scheme to inconvenience people into buying lots of memory. But as i say i’m ‘clueless’ over handhelds and if that was the case then i’m sure there’d be Lots of angry people posting. Am getting one (vita) but WHY dosn’t Sony stores know if there getting any in, as am getting £200 vouchers c/o the smart offer plus. Dosn’t make sense.

  • Please get remote play functionality working as it should :)

  • Ow so PS Vita has playstation 4 functions WoW hey everyone who didn’t believe me about playstation 4 all game companies who knows have spilled the beans and one game companie doesn’t like playstation 4
    Naughty Dog ‘Terrified’ by PlayStation 4

  • can’t wait to get mine!had my 3g/wifi pre orderd for couple months now! Sony have to get a grip on the price of games & memory cards way over priced! as for future games would love to see command & conquer generals RTS games using the touch capabilities,even a killzone RTS PLEASE!

  • Vita is looking pretty incredible. I’ve got mine pre-ordered and I’m quietly confident that it won’t be the disappointment the lamentable 3DS has been to date.
    “and one game companie doesn’t like playstation 4 ”
    Funny, they say absolutely nothing of the sort in that interview.
    Did you even read it? I’m guessing not.

  • @26
    You can install install Minis, PS1 and PSP games from the PS3 as long as you have the install files, the same with Vita software.
    The big (curse, swear swear) problem is that the install files can’t be put into albums and you end up with 2 copies of all the games if you want to keep the install files.
    Sony needs to fix this ASAP!

  • PSOne Classics and other Game Archives won’t work on Vita at launch

  • Firstly, I will say I’m a big fan of Vita after getting a hands on with Uncharted a couple of months ago. All control options were used in an intuitive way, with great freedom of choice for the player as to which controls to use.
    Other than the pricing in Australia (almost double what the 3DS is currently selling for), there is another issue which I fear will cripple sales here. One of the largest retailers for Playstation in terms of console sales volume, will not be stocking the 3G model due to politics related to Sony’s deal with Vodaphone. Not to mention that said carrier has one of the worst networks in the country for coverage and data speeds.
    Poor form Sony… Voda might be good in the UK, but this decision will impact sales here in Australia. My advice… take the pre packaged Voda sim card out of the 3G pack, and you’ll sell loads more consoles, and hence games as well.

  • @ immortal-wolf-
    I think you’re missing the point with that article.
    Naughty Dog never said they don’t like the PS4! Did you even read it?
    What they are trying to say, is they’re bracing themselves, as they know how hard it was, from the transition from PS2 to PS3. Naughty Dog worked very hard to understand & grasp the functions of the PS3 to produce great games for it. Any developer will state that in one aspect, they’re looking forward to a next gen console but deep down, they’re dreading all the work & mistakes & problems that will occur on a daily basis!

  • @Immortal-Wolf-
    If you read the article they have’nt spilled any beans><
    They're "afraid" of the PS4 because whenever it does come to fruition they expect it to come with the same challenges as the transition from PS2 to PS3. This doesn't mean that it'll be out next year or even 2013, it just means that they worry about it eventually coming. When that'll be we can only speculate though.
    How did it feel interviewing your boss? :p

  • Im really keen to get one of these, but im worried about the one PSN account.
    I have two currently, one (spanish) for buying games and stuff and the second (UK) so that I have everything in English on the PS3 and my main playing account and Trophies.
    Why cant they sort it to be able to choose language, even if just the main points? I dont mind the store in Spanish.

  • Any uppcoming RPGs (Classic style not Actionrpg) and turnbased strategy games comming to the Vita at launch, or soon after?

  • @37
    disgaea 3 is launch title and ffx remake is coming to vita

  • @Shadowdragoon
    no RPG at launch and not even any dated o ya there is one but it´s only for japan launch.

  • Nice interview.
    I dare say I am probably going to go a little mad in Feb and try and get one of the larger cards. It is a shame that there are no cheaper alternatives to the Sony ones but Id rather have 1 larger card and get the hit out of the way than get a smaller one and fill it in short order.
    As for the launch line-up, it it’s one of the strongest I have seen for any system for a while. My biggest issue is which to get 1st.

  • As always Yoshida-san talks like a true gamer. He’s the best thing that happened to Sony in a long time IMHO. The PSVita launch lineup is proof enough, it’s likely the best I’ve ever witnessed.
    Now if he could only suggest Studio Liverpool (with some help from Santa Monica and the Naughty Gods) to make a new COLONY WARS for PS3/4, I’d be eternally grateful.

  • Will we get multiple PSN accounts on one Vita in the future? If not, I am probably not buying one since I want to play games from both the japanese and swedish PS Store.

  • Can’t wait to get ps vita it looks amazing cool technology and system updates

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