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Sony's Phil Harrison Slams PCs, Talks Tilting, Defends Blu-Ray
posted by: Chris Martin
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date posted: 10:39 PM Sat Jun 3rd, 2006
last revision: 09:14 PM Sun Jun 4th, 2006

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Click to read.In an interview May 31st with Spiegel Online president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios Phil Harrison was candid about the future of his company\'s console, accusations of imitating the Wii remote in the PS3 controller tilt feature, and that PCs really aren\'t what it\'s all about. Do we agree? Not completely. We have logical reservations, as usual. But let\'s break it down and see what\'s brewing over in Sonyland.

First Harrison discredits accusations of Sony stealing the Wii remote tilt/sensor function: \"On one level I understand why people say that. But it\'s a little stupid, if you don\'t mind me saying so.\" Lately, much of the buzz around the PS3 has been around the recreation of the Dual Shock. This new Dual Shock features no rumble ability, but uses a very similar style of sensor through Bluetooth, and tracks the tilting motion and swaying of the controller.

Then Harrison gets a little defensive: \"When we launched Playstation in 1994 we introduced the concept of real-time computer-generated 3-D-graphics for the first time. That was the innovation that drove the platform. When Nintendo released the N64 in 1996 and they had real-time CG 3-D-graphics, did you hear us say, \'Nintendo, you\'ve stolen our idea?\' Of course not. These innovations are things that become possible because of a combination of technology, price and manufacturing capability.\"

This is simply a statment of errors. The first 3D graphics were created on the PC (remember CAD?), machines like the Lisp Machine, though very few and far between (and expensive) were able to create 3D graphics at a crude, wireframe level. This happened back in the 80s, a great deal of time before the PlayStation was released. Even though this is true, the PlayStation was the first game machine to produce 3D graphics at a home level and for the sole purpose of game entertainment. In that regard, we stand by Mr. Harrison\'s statment.

Harrison then puts to rest the claim that the PS3 controller was changed back at the last minute.

\"We have been working on these innovations ourselves for a long time, and clearly Nintendo has been working on similar -- although not identical -- innovations for a long time, and that\'s natural. That\'s what technology is about.\"

Next, Harrison discusses the use of the tilt/sensor feature being used in future games, stating that he expects every game to take advantage of it and use it in some way.

\"One thing we\'ve all done when playing a game,\" he says, \"is move around the controller, whether you\'re playing a racing game or a football game. Now for the first time we can read both the primary input, which might be through the sticks, and learn what the player is doing through the secondary movement, and add the two together. This combination is a very significant advantage that\'s unique to the Playstation 3 controller.\"

We\'ve seen the strange use of the Wii remote on games like Tony Hawks Downhill Jam, and we\'ve also seen the excellent use of the remote in games like Super Mario Galaxy, but the actual use of the PS3 controller is going to have to be more diverse than the lackluster tilt feature incorporated into Warhawk, which was playable on the E3 floor. A somewhat featureless demo, Warhawk had the player tilt the controller to tilt the Warhawk fighter, which was intriguing, though frustrating as well.

The PlayStation 3 has received a price point of $500 and $600 for Sony\'s two-tiered purchase system. The biggest determiner of the price has been the inclusion of Blu-Ray (a format many analysts have compared to BetaMax, an extinct Sony format). But is Sony concerned about piracy of Blu-Ray discs? \"Ten years from now the idea of sending 50 gigabytes online will be commonplace,\" explains Harrison, \"but today -- no way. Not easily.\"

In a quick transition to \"Live Anywhere,\" Spiegel asks Harrison if he\'s worried about the integration of PC and Xbox 360 as a means to broaden Microsoft\'s Live territory.

And next, here it comes, Harrison slams the PC:

\"No, it doesn\'t concern me and I don\'t think it concerns the consumer either. Once you adopt a game system as your primary entertainment device, that\'s what you want. We think that Playstation 3 is the place where our users will be doing their gaming, their movie watching, their Web browsing and a lot of other computer entertainment functions. That will satisfy them. Playstation 3 is a computer. We don\'t need the PC.\"

Harrison also mentions the appeal of certain user-defined sites like MySpace and Secondlife. But whether gamers will be willing to browse the internet and use sites like MySpace and Secondlife is yet to be seen. We have seen the Dreamcast web browser fail before it was even launched, but is the PS3 trying to emulate that experience? Don\'t we already have a PC for the purpose of browsing and chatting?

Still, Harrison expresses the importance of the user and begins to touch on the networking ideas behind the PS3: \"What we are trying to do is to recognize that the power of a network is not in the operating system, but in the people that are connected to it and what they contribute to the network. That\'s what makes a network powerful. The reason something like MySpace is powerful is because you have the combined effect of hundreds of thousands or millions of people adding and growing the content of that network. That\'s what\'s interesting. It\'s a very powerful force.\"

It is, indeed. But our idea of Sony\'s network is still a little fuzzy, and we still don\'t have any solid details about how the PS3 is going to utilize it\'s online service. But Harrison went on to state that the PS3 can do what a PC can: \"Playstation 3 has a browser, so you can get into MySpace from your Playstation 3.\"

We\'re still awaiting more details of how Harrison\'s claims will validate as the PS3 nears it\'s November release. More as it develops.

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