IndustryGamers interviews PSN’s Eric Lepel

IndustryGamers posted a very interesting interview with Sony’s Eric Lempel (Director, PlayStation Network). Most sites that are linking to this are focusing on Mr. Lempel’s comments comparing PSN to XBL – “I don’t think there’s a lot of “catch up” [with XBL] anymore.” but I thought the article (found via N4G) contained more interesting nuggets of information.

IG: I know Sony has said the PSP Go is not intended to replace the traditional PSP model, but it does sort of seem that with this digital push that is going to eventually happen. Don’t you think this will phase out UMD permanently?

EL: I think it really depends on the consumer and what they want. As Kaz [Hirai] mentioned it was really about going out there, talking to people and seeing what they wanted.

Kind of like everyone really wanted a second analog stick?

IG: And the pricing on the digital games will be identical to the UMD counterparts?

EL: Well, we don’t actually control pricing, so we can sell to retail at a wholesale price and then they set the resale price. On the PlayStation Store we do set the pricing for first-party titles, but on third-party they give us a wholesale price. On games where we do control pricing, what we’ll steer towards is having it cost the same; it won’t cost more [at retail or digitally] for the launch of a new title.

What? That was like a punch in the guts. At a minimum I expected the digital content to be $5-10 less to make up for no UMD, no case, manual, shelf space, etc. If this is correct … or rather if I understand this statement correctly, it looks like PSP Go owners are about to get screwed.

IG: With PSP Go being all digital and the fact that you can access the store on the PSP itself, do you feel it’s one step closer to competing with the iPhone?

EL: What’s a little bit different with us is that PSP is a game-centric device; it was built for gaming. A lot of this other stuff you see on other devices – lots of smaller games, not that deep – might not provide the best experience. The PSP Go has a lot more horsepower and there’s a lot more you can get out of this. I think the Go will open [the door] for more unique stuff that you probably wouldn’t find on another platform because they can’t run it or they just don’t have the controls.

I just wrote about this fascination with comparing the PSP Go to the iPhone (or iPod Touch). I really do not understand why this continues to come up, but now the hot rumors are that a PSP Phone is forthcoming. Oh well, gives me some more fodder for the blog.

And last, but not least …

IG: Some people may be worried about filling up the internal memory of the PSP Go, so what would you say the average size of a game file is going to be? How many games could a user fit onto the device?

EL: If you’re strictly talking games, and not movies or other stuff, with the average game being perhaps 800 MB you could probably get about 20 games onto the PSP Go.

I cannot even imagine trying to lug around 20 UMDs. At this point I think I am quoted out. Check out the article; it is a solid read.

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2 thoughts on “IndustryGamers interviews PSN’s Eric Lepel”

  1. You have to remember, PSP has been out a long time.

    When it first came out, flash memory, especially mini Memory Stick, wasn’t cheap, like at least $20 for 512 MB.

    So I don’t buy that it was always intended to have flash.

    Sony wanted UMD to succeed (yet another proprietary format they hoped would become popular, remember how long they pushed the Mini Disc) and for a time, they were getting good sales of UMD movies. I remember Tower had a fair amount of shelf space for them, even though in the early models, you could only play back the movies on the small PSP screen and it wasn’t even as good as DVD, while being priced about the same.

    Of course, they’re not going to price digital downloads less than UMD. They want their cake and eat it too. The record companies and the movie studios do the same thing. Because they don’t want to threaten the revenues they have from discs sales, which are considerable in the case of DVD movies. They’re hoping digital downloads are incremental revenues.

    And for game publishers and developers, the appeal of digital would be that it can’t be re-sold into the used market, where they see Gamestop make big profits while cannibalizing new game sales.

  2. wco81 – I agree with you on all points. There was no way on God’s Green Earth that Sony planned to go UMD free from day one.

    I understand why they are moving to digital media, and certainly understand that with this move they hope to crush the secondhand market. I have written about this several times, but I really did think the digital media would be $5-10 cheaper. The key word may be “new” games – still very disappointed.

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