One on One with Patrick Seybold

Patrick_Seybold

Patrick Seybold, Sony’s Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media was kind enough to allow me to chat with him after Sony’s excellent showing at E3. Mr. Seybold and I discuss PlayStation Move, PSP, the impact of social media, and Kevin Butler.

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Sony had an excellent showing at E3 and redefined what the PlayStation brand is all about. What are your thoughts on the incredible reaction those in attendance at the Shrine Auditorium had to those announcements?

We saw an incredibly strong reaction from attendees at the PlayStation Press Conference and I think it’s in large part due to the diverse and new content that we were able to share with the audience. Topping the charts was the upcoming PlayStation Move motion controller and an in-depth look into how we are leading the 3D race, with demos on the show floor that ranged from Killzone 3 in 3D to Gran Turismo 5 in 3D. And on the PS3 platform we started the year with huge releases such as MAG, Heavy Rain, God of War III, MLB 10: The Show, and ModNation Racers. The momentum will carry through as we have an extremely strong back half of the year line-up from both our first party studios and our publishing partners. Our digital entertainment offerings, which comes packed today with premium original content from HBO, and 23,000 movies and TV shows from all of the major networks and studios, was met with more good news with the announcement of PlayStation Network’s new subscription based offering, PlayStation Plus. All in all, it was a great show and I think everyone was really excited by the volume and quality of great new games and hardware brought to the forefront at E3.

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The PlayStation Move could almost be likened to t he launch of an entirely new console, and so many more A list titles will be coming out before the holiday season across the product line. What are some of the challenges in gearing up for what is going to be quite a busy year in the coming months?

Yes, exciting times are ahead of us as we look towards the arrival of the PlayStation Move. When PlayStation Move launches on September 19th in the US, consumers will have access to a compelling line-up of motion-control titles that will appeal to both the casual and core gamers. We also have an incredibly deep line-up coming to PS3 and PSP, so the PlayStation brand will be broadly represented at retail and in consumer’s homes this holiday season.

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As E3 demonstrated, the media and fans really identify with Kevin Butler, and those ad campaigns have really reached a whole new audience. What were your thoughts when you saw Kevin Butler make his appearance?

It was a great reaction and the crowd went wild when Kevin Butler appeared. Since launching the “It Only Does Everything” campaign last September, the public has really resonated with the messaging. The next few months it will be interesting to see how our core gamers take to the new advertising campaign “Step Your Game Up” for PSP and PSPgo. The focus is all about providing a deeper look into what makes a PlayStation Portable gaming experience more complete and enjoyable than anything else you’ll find on the market.

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I couldn’t attend E3 this year due to scheduling issues, and a lot of people could not either, yet when you visit the E3 site in PS Home, you really get the sense of being there. Do you think this is something we can see moving forward? Might we see more virtual spaces in PS Home, like FEVA Stadium that really leverages the power of the PS3 against its competitors?

I am glad you liked the experience in PlayStation Home. It was very well received and with 250,000 visitors to the booth, it proved that people really utilize the PlayStation Home 3D virtual environment to connect with their fellow PS3 owners. You can expect us to do more of this in the future and while I can’t provide specifics on new spaces to be introduced in Home, you should keep watch because there will be more exciting spaces revealed throughout the remainder of this year.

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Early on there was a lot of criticism against the PS3 for being too expensive, and for including technology that, at the time, appeared over-specced. Now all those early decisions are allowing the PS3 to offer experiences that aren’t possible on other consoles. Can you talk about what riding that wave was like, and how it feels to be where Sony is now?

We’ve always said that we are building a product that is future proof. We’ve been able to impress upon both our fan base and potential new customers that we not only have a serious gaming device, but we also have a powerful and unparalleled entertainment device that offers a wide variety of options for everyone – downloading content, photo storage, streaming music, sports, Blu-ray player, and now 3D. Consumers are responding and the PS3 has just surpassed ten consecutive months of double-digit year over year growth.

There were rumors swirling around about a PSP 2, yet Sony showed just how viable the current PSP is by having it take center stage and highlighting excellent titles on the way with a whole new ad campaign. Do you think this deep into the PSP life cycle it’s time for a refresh or does it have a few years left?

PSP is still going strong and has an incredibly deep pipeline of products in development. We already covered a bit about our new advertising campaign “Step Your Game Up” which shows our commitment to the product and to those fans that crave real full-length games. With big franchises like Metal Gear Solid, God of War coming to the platform this year, and new IP such as Invisimals showing off new augmented reality, PSP is still the best portable gaming device on the market.

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Social media is a big part of how this generation gets its news and communicates. Your team has done an excellent job with this type of communication by having such an active community on the blog, the forums, twitter and is head and shoulders above what others are doing in the same space. What are the challenges in balancing so many different forms of communication and getting so many different people within Sony to participate?

Our PlayStation blog, the forums and Twitter have all helped us to get closer to our fans/customers. We have a constant interest to be able to utilize these social media tools to engage with the core user base, solicit opinions, provide intel and to course correct as needed based upon their input and feedback. Another good example of this is the PlayStation Share. We want to engage with those that use our products and know their likes/dislikes because that can only help us make a more targeted product. When you arrive at the homepage for Share it says:

Share is a place to formally submit your best ideas on how we can improve all PlayStation products. It’s also a place where you can discover and vote on other people’s ideas, as well as communicate with us and other PlayStation fans about how to bring great ideas to life.

We want to create the best products available and our customers and fans are a great source of ensuring we continue to have the best in class products available.

I want to give a humble thanks to Mr. Seybold  for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us and Mrs. von Esmarch for her assistance in coordinating the interview.

08
Jul 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
DISCUSSION 3 Comments

DC Comics Arrive on the PSP

DC Comics goes digital and the Digital Comics Service for PlayStation is one of it’s destinations.

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Marvel, Image, and Darkhorse to name a few all offer digital comics in some form and for the longest time, it didn’t seem like DC had any plans to move in that to space.

But suddenly all that changed.

DC announced that, not only were they getting into digital comics, but they would launch across multiple platforms including the PSP. And they did so in grand fashion with wide range of comics being made available on day one.  With previews of the new story arc written by J. Michael Straczynski in Superman #700 and Wonder Woman’s new look  and origin in #600 potentials readers get a good look at what’s new in the DC world.

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This is good move for both DC and Sony as it expands comics to a larger audience, and really opens the door for digital comics to grow and expand now that the major publishers will be in competition to deliver the best autoflow style experience.

Being the geek I am, I can’t help but make one recommendation. If your going to read a DC comic series to start off with, check out Batman: Hush. With a story by Jeph Loeb and art by Jim Lee you can’t go wrong. And the first (from what I can remember) in continuity fight between Superman and Batman in #612 is quite the story.

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With over 1600 comics available for PSP, it turns out to be yet another value add for the platform. If you haven’t yet, head over to the Digital Comics site where you can view the entire catalog of what’s available.

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Releases are not quite day and date yet, but give it time.

02
Jul 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
DISCUSSION 3 Comments

New PlayStation Portable Ad Campaign Starting

Kevin Butler gets a new partner in the new PSP ad Campaign: Step Your Game Up. At E3, Jack Tretton gave us a sneak peak at a new PSP ad campaign featuring the new face of the PSP: Marcus Rivers.

In the ad, Marcus contacts Kevin and asks’ why Sony isn’t talking more about the PSP, and how he is tired of hear kids talk about “ some weak app on a phone” and how we have “good kids playing bad games”.

Marcus is then hired by Kevin Butler/VP of Fanboy Relations to get the word out about the PSP and the true gaming experience it has to offer.

It was a first in a series of commercials airing now, reaffirming Sony’s commitment to the PSP. As part of the ad campaign, Marcus has his own YouTube Channel. The first commercial spot is below:

Given the success of the Kevin Butler ad’s, the fan reaction to him at E3, and the 50 ft. mural of him outside, if Marcus Rivers can be half as successful, Sony could have another excellent marketing campaign on their hands.

20
Jun 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PSP

DISCUSSION 1 Comment

Sony’s E3 2010 Press Conference Live Blog

The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2010 (aka E3 2010) takes place on June 14-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 is an annual trade show for the computer and video games industry presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). It is used by many video game developers to present their upcoming games and game-related hardware.

Sony’s press conference is today at 12PM PDT and will be hosted by Playstation USA President/CEO Jack Tretton. If you’d rather watch the press conference in HD, please check out the live stream of Sony’s E3 2010 Press Conference at Game Trailers, Gamespot, IGN, and G4TV. Here is our live chat that will update you with the latest information during the press conference:

(we are noticing errors with the live chat, please stay tuned and refresh until it works again)

Sony plans to further showcase the PlayStation Move and its compatible games as well as announce the worldwide release of firmware for the PS3 to fully support stereo 3D gaming and movies. President of Sony Computer Entertainment, Jack Tretton, has said that they “will absolutely bring the heat, there’s a lot to talk about.” Sony is also set to reveal new hardware at E3.

15
Jun 2010
DISCUSSION 5 Comments

Sony Announces Excellent PSP Promotion

Sony is adding discounted and free PSP titles with it’s current promotion.

Saving money on games is a good thing, and Sony’s new PSP promotion allows you to do just that.  Sony is introducing a “Favorites” line for PSP with each game having a retail price of $9.99.

The first set of titles scheduled for release according to the Official Playstation Blog are the following:

  • Ape Escape: On the Loose
    Buzz! Master Quiz
    Hot Shots Golf Open Tee
    LocoRoco 2
    Patapon 2
    PixelJunk Monster Deluxe
    SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo
    Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow
    Twisted Metal: Head On

It doesn’t end there. Sony is also negotiating to include even more games to this new line such as:

  • Justice League Heroes
    Manhunt 2
    Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play
    Pinball Hall of Fame: Williams Collection
    Silent Hill: Origins
    Sims 2
    The Warriors

Several more titles are set to be announced and have yet to be released. In helping to keep the money in your pocket, Sony is also adding Gran Turismo, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance: Retribution and Secret Agent Clank to the $19.99 Greatest Hits line as well.

Don’t have a PSP? Sony has you covered.

If you purchase one between now and March 31 2011, Sony will send you an email with a PlayStation Network voucher to download 3 free games.

With SCEJ’s promotion and now this, Sony is being quite generous  lately and it’s definitely a win for gamers :)

02
Jun 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PSP

DISCUSSION 5 Comments

ModNation Racers Redefines The Kart Racing Genre

ModNation Racers (PS3, PSP), developed by United Front Games and Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios (San Diego), brings an entertaining twist to classic kart racing, while empowering players of all levels to fully customize and design their entire racing experience. The second title in PlayStation’s PLAY, CREATE, SHARE series, ModNation Racers allows players to not only enjoy developer-made content, but unleash their imagination with easy-to-use editing tools to generate customized tracks, karts and characters that can be uploaded and shared with the ModNation community via PlayStation Network.

ModNation Racers’ user-friendly creation tools feature a simple interface and a robust menu of options to trick out tracks, karts and drivers with a variety of accessories. If players are not feeling creative, ModNation Racers also features a Story Mode with a humorous narrative and a wealth of pre-made characters, karts and over 25 tracks to try. Here’s a video review courtesy of IGN:

“We continue to deliver on the success of PLAY, CREATE, SHARE movement with ModNation Racers as the next title in the series started by LittleBigPlanet,” said Scott A. Steinberg, Vice President, Product Marketing, SCEA. “Combining deep customization with solid kart handling, and online multiplayer options, ModNation Racers brings a creative and interactive kart racing experience to life. It’s a breath of fresh air in the kart racing genre only available on PlayStation.”

ModNation Racers’ single-player career mode tells the tale of Tag, an inexperienced racer given the opportunity to compete in the world famous ModNation Racing Championship. Players with the PS3 system will dive into the ModSpot, the game’s central hub, showcasing each game mode including career, online, creation, and more. In the ModSpot, players can check out the community’s top Mods and Karts, enter Hot Lap tournaments, play the Top Tracks voted on by the community, and socialize with other racers. ModNation Racers also delivers Career Central mode leading players to beat the computer and unlock more content for creation.

Players of all ages will keep coming back for more ModNation Racers with an infinite number of customizable possibilities for cars and drivers. Players can CREATE unusual and unique racers by resizing character features such as eyes and ears, applying different skin designs and colors and trying on different apparel options. With kart creation, players can choose between dozens of body types, from school buses to sports cars and customize with an array of parts, ornaments, decals, and paint jobs.

In just minutes players can build a track or spend hours perfecting it with the same tools the developers used to design the game. By simply driving, players build a track that is laid out behind them. Players can create tunnels, bridges and hairpin turns as well as alter the terrain and morph the land to form mountain ranges, lakes, and more. With auto-complete, players can finish their track at any point during the building process and instantly populate it with obstacles and scenery. Whether a player builds a track covered in weapons or a narrow road for pure racing, the depth of track creation in ModNation Racers truly offers players a unique racing experience.

ModNation Racers features multiplayer options for both the PS3 and PSP systems. The PS3 system version includes split-screen racing with up to four players offline and two player split-screen online. Players also have the option to go online and battle against 11 other players on the PS3 system version. The PSP system version allows up to six players both online and offline. Through PlayStation Network, players can SHARE their creations with the rest of the world and interact with the community on the platform by uploading racers, karts and tracks online for others to experience.

25
May 2010
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PS3, PSP

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Dated


The highly anticipated prequel to Kingdom Hearts now has a release date.

Square Enix has revealed that Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep is set for release in North America on September 7th exclusively on the PSP.

Adding an outstanding voice cast of Mark Hamill (most excellent), Willa Holland, Jesse McCartney, Leonard Nimoy and James Woods along with exclusive content included just for the North American release Square gives a much needed boost to the PSP library.

To accompany the release, a limited edition Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep PSP Entertainment Pack will be available on release day from Gamestop:

  • “Mystic-Silver” PSP-3000 system
  • KINGDOM HEARTS Birth by Sleep on UMD (Universal Media Disc)*
  • Movie (to be announced)
  • 4GB Memory Stick PRO Duo

Until September 7th arrives, in the interim, enjoy the trailer below:

17
May 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PSP

DISCUSSION 1 Comment

Incredible God of War: Ghost of Sparta Coming Soon For Sony PSP

Sony Computer Entertainment America plans to release God of War: Ghost of Sparta exclusively for the PSP (as a UMD and download) later this year. Developed by Ready At Dawn Studios, the acclaimed team that brought you the best-selling God of War: Chains of Olympus, in collaboration with Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios Santa Monica Studio, God of War: Ghost of Sparta will combine intense action, an elaborate new storyline, stunning graphics, and depths of scale never-before-seen on the portable platform.

“Excitement for the God of War franchise is at an all-time high and we’re thrilled to continue that momentum with God of War: Ghost of Sparta,” said Scott A. Steinberg, vice president, product marketing, SCEA. “This new adventure will showcase Kratos on PSP like never before in an experience that fans and newcomers can enjoy on the go, anytime, anywhere.”

Set in the realm of Greek mythology, God of War: Ghost of Sparta is a single-player game that allows players to take on the powerful role of Spartan warrior Kratos. This new adventure picks up after God of War concludes, telling the story of Kratos’ ascension to power as the God of War. In his quest to rid himself of the nightmares that haunt him, Kratos must embark on a journey that will reveal the origins of lost worlds, and finally answer long-awaited questions about his dark past. Armed with the deadly chained Blades of Chaos, he will have to overcome armies of mythological monsters, legions of undead soldiers, and amazingly dangerous and brutal landscapes throughout his merciless quest.

Utilizing state-of-the-art visual technologies, the development team has made significant strides to give players a realistic feel that has never been seen before on PSP or any other portable platform. The game showcases higher quality environments and characters, giving an unmistakable realism to Kratos’ newest quest. Providing over 25% more gameplay, God of War: Ghost of Sparta will feature fluid, life-like characters, a robust weapon system, new magical powers, weapons and navigational abilities, many more enemies on screen, and a greater number of boss encounters, truly bringing the experience to life, all while on the go.

04
May 2010
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PSP

DISCUSSION 1 Comment

Sony Offering Playstation Protection Plan To Keep Hardware Healthy

Sony Computer Entertainment America has detailed the PlayStation Protection Plan, an extended service offer for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and PSP (PlayStation Portable). Under the new program, PS3 and PSP owners in the United States can purchase an extended service plan of one or two years that begins after the original one-year manufacturer’s limited warranty expires. PSP owners can also choose the Accidental Damage Plan, which adds coverage for cracked-screen damage in the event of an unexpected drop. The PlayStation Protection Plan offers peace of mind to consumers interested in enhanced coverage for a great value, along with the added security of knowing all services will be performed with the direct backing and support of SCEA as the original manufacturer.

The PlayStation Protection Plan is available to PS3 or PSP owners (both the PSP-3000 and PSPgo systems) who are still within their one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty, as well as new purchasers. The PSP Accidental Damage Plan must be purchased within the first 30 days of owning a PSP system, and the plan is effective beginning on the purchase date. Starting this month, consumers can purchase the PlayStation Protection Plan by calling 1-866-716-7669.

With the PlayStation Protection Plan, consumers can extend the same coverage from the original manufacturer’s one-year warranty for one or two additional years. The pricing includes all shipping charges and repairs, which are performed by PlayStation-trained service technicians using official parts at SCEA-authorized repair facilities. The PlayStation Protection Plan is available beginning in May 2010 and will be priced competitively.

– PS3 – 1-year extension ($44.99) or 2-year extension ($59.99)
– PSP – 1-year extension ($29.99) or 2-year extension ($39.99)
– PSP with Accidental Damage – 1-year extension ($39.99) or 2-year
extension ($49.99)

“The PlayStation brand has long been synonymous with the highest quality in engineering and design, and it’s because of the reliability of the PS3 and PSP systems that we can offer the PlayStation Protection Plan,” said Glenn Nash, vice president, operations, SCEA. “We have heard from consumers that they’re interested in an extended service plan that’s backed directly by SCEA and leverages our technical expertise. While both the PS3 and PSP systems are designed with future-proof technology and built for long lifecycles, we’re looking forward to offering this service to consumers looking for added peace of mind.”

And for those of you interested, here is a list of what is not covered under the Playstation Protection Plan:

WHAT IS NOT COVERED:

  • Rust, corrosion, insect infestation, mysterious disappearance, transport, environmental conditions such as sand or dirt.
  • Any Product failure related to theft or burglary, loss, abuse, negligence, vandalism, acts of war, fire, weather related damage, unusual atmospheric conditions, or acts of God.
  • Repairs to Product, including parts, or Product replacement covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, manufacturer’s recall, or similar manufacturer’s incentive or repair program (regardless of whether or not the manufacturer is doing business as an ongoing enterprise).
  • Operational or mechanical failure of Your Product which is not reported to Us prior to expiration of this Service Plan.
  • Normal maintenance, such as cleaning and/or customer education/training.
  • Problems that existed in Your Product prior to the effective date of coverage under this Service Plan, which are known to You.
  • Screen imperfections (if applicable) in Your Product such as “dead” or bright pixels within the manufacturer’s original service specifications.
  • Products used commercially such as retail displays, rentals, leasing, or in arcade systems or other custom application.
  • Damage caused by improper home wiring or grounding including external connections such as antennas or cable televisions.
  • Damage to other connected devices such as televisions, monitors, receivers or other AV equipment.
  • Damage due to spilled liquids or immersion of Product in liquid.
  • Damage caused by non-approved or non-licensed peripherals or accessories.
  • Repairs due to failures caused by the use of non-compatible, non-original equipped hard disks.
  • Shipping or transportation damage, improper installation or setup, user facilitated minor adjustments and settings as outlined in the Product manual.
  • Accidental damage not covered under the PLAYSTATION PROTECTION PLAN – ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE coverage.
  • Accidental screen damage (only applicable to the PLAYSTATION PROTECTION PLAN).
  • Intentional or incidental damage or gross neglect.
04
May 2010
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PS3, PSP

DISCUSSION No Comments

Big Announcement for Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker?

Image Courtesy andriasang

In a twitter post translated by andriasang, there appears to be a big surprise coming from Hideo Kojima about Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. In a tweet, he had this to say:

On Wednesday, there will be a big Peace Walker announcement. I don’t think you can understand the enjoyment of Peace Walker until you’ve played it, but I believe you’ll feel a hint of sorts about ‘where is it a new Metal?

Right now it’s anybody’s guess, but hopefully we get more details from the Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker completion ceremony being held today. The MGS titles have been a gaming staple for years and this is going to be another welcome addition to the library. As more news becomes available, we will update you.

06
Apr 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
POSTED IN

Hardware, Playstation, PSP

DISCUSSION No Comments