In an exclusive interview with Develop Magazine, one of the highest-ranking executives at Sony Computer Entertainment has revealed the company is “hard at work” on next-generation PlayStation hardware platforms. Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios told the magazine how the company wants to shift its platform design strategy to incorporate software developers into the central role of deciding hardware choices for its upcoming platforms.
“When Ken Kutaragi moved on and Kaz Harai became the president of SCE, the first thing Kaz said was, ‘get World Wide Studios in on hardware development,” Yoshida said. With former president Ken Kutaragi out of the picture, Sony is announcing its focus on gathering the opinions of first-party studios to help make future PlayStation consoles highly accessible their development teams.
Yoshida went on to elaborate the specifics of the company’s change in platform design philosophy and its anticipated effects in the near future. “We are undergoing many activities that we haven’t yet been talking about in public. Some future platform related activities.” Many analysts believe Yoshida may be referring to Sony’s next-generation portable console, the PSP 2. The original PSP, introduced in December 2004 in Japan and March 2005 in North America, has sold over 58.8 million units since launch and continues to climb in both markets with the latest PSP Go hardware refresh. Keep in mind, however, that the PSP Go is merely a refresh of the original PSP platform and does not represent a second-generation portable platform.
For the last two decades, history has repeatedly shown that portable consoles usually stick to a 5 – 6 year product cycle before a next generation of new development begins. In the case of the PSP releasing in December 2004, it would be logical for Sony to introduce its next-generation counterpart by December 2010 in order to stay consistent with the traditional product cycle. Back in May, we reported that Sony is very serious about doing something to rekindle interest in the PSP. Sources have told us that the PSP 2 was not ready for its first announcement at E3 2010 last month and that Sony may announce it between the timeframe of Gamescom in mid-August or the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) in mid-September.
Regardless of the future of its portable console, we believe Yoshida’s interview also implies development on the fourth-generation PlayStation console. In retrospect, Yoshida was appointed head of Sony Worldwide Studios (WWS) at a time when Sony had endured a stuttering start into the PlayStation 3 era. The Cell Broadband Engine processor hardware was a fairly complex proprietary solution designed by IBM that many first-party studios were completely unprepared for, and as a result many experienced developers had to go back to the books and reeducate to prepare for the multi-core programming difficulties that lied ahead. Yoshida now remarks that “[he is] spending more time on the hardware platform, connecting hardware guys to developers. That’s my major role now, and Move is one of those new ways of developing platforms.”
We appreciate Sony’s refocused efforts to enable experienced software developers to become integral hardware platform advisors for the company’s next-generation consoles. By allowing hardware engineers and programmers an equal voice in the collaboration process, we are confident that the company has chosen a sustainable workplace model for its upcoming projects.