Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida Explains the Strategy Behind the Japanese PS4 Launch, PS Vita and PS Vita TV

Many theories are surfacing about what happened on Monday at the Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and Asia press conference, where the company announced the release date of the PS4 to be February the 22nd, 2014 and two new models of the PS Vita that will instead launch first in Japan.

Between the wild theories, there are a few men that actually know the strategy behind the announcement and one of these men is SCE Worldwide Studio President Shuhei Yoshida, who gave a nice rundown of Sony’s reasons and plans for its platforms as part of a rather long and interesting interview on the Japanese website 4Gamer.

Below you can find a summary of the most relevant points:

  • Sony wanted to have an absolutely solid release for the PS4 in Japan instead of launching in a hurry.
  • There was the risk to struggle in the Japanese market if there were no strong Japanese titles ready for launch. With a release on February the 22nd the console will be able to count on titles like Yakuza: Ishin,┬áDynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends and the beta of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn right out of the shelves.
  • Ideally Sony would have liked to launch in the same time frame as the rest of the world, but the worry of shortages and the large number of pre-orders exceeding expectations contributed to the decision of launching in Japan at the beginning of next year.
  • Yoshida-san expects to have 19 Launch titles in Japan between first and third party.
  • The PS Vita had a successful period since the beginning of the year in Japan. The decision to release a new version and the PS Vita TV was made in order to accelerate that “good flow”.
  • Yoshida-san hopes that the new models and the newly announced titles will increase the success of the Vita in Japan, and then the momentum will spread ┬áto the rest of the world.
  • There’s a precise meaning behind the PS4 launching first in the west and the new PS Vita models launching first in Japan. In the west home consoles are more popular, while portables are more popular in Japan. Yoshida-san hopes that both sides will influence each other eventually.
  • If both the PS4 and the new PS Vita models were released simultaneously everywhere, there would be an excessive burden on customers.
  • Sony still consider Japan a key market. The delayed release of the PS4 was simply a result of the analysis of the market situation of each region and a matter of distributing resources in the best way.
  • Yoshida-san feels that the PS Vita TV is a “Challenging product” and he was looking forward to the day of the announcement.
  • The project to create the PS Vita TV started around the summer of 2011. Since then a lot of trial and error has been done in house before it finally took the shape we see today.
  • There are currently 100 PS Vita titles that will work with the PS Vita TV, and a “significant percentage” of future titles will work with it as well.
  • According to Yoshida-san, the PS Vita TV is the perfect introductory machine for those that can’t or don’t want to buy a PS4 yet, but want a console that offers games and video services at the same time.

It definitely sounds like Sony has a very precise idea on how to handle its twin platforms (or maybe we should consider them triplets?) in the future, and it’s good to hear that the company still considers Japan a key market. It’s also also quite unsurprising, despite what some slightly misguided and maybe a tad sensationalist journalists wrote.

Will the plan be crowned by the success Yoshida-san hopes? Is it all part of “Shuhei’s master plan” as the PS4’s Lead Architect Mark Cerny likes to say? We’ll have to wait and see about that, but things are definitely looking quite good.

(photo courtesy of 4Gamer)

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