Karraker On Blackballs, Blogging And Bye Byes

skyyvod.jpgStarting next week Dave Karraker, head of SCEA's PR, will be leaving the Sony fold to return to the world of hard liquor as director of communications and events for Skyy Liquor. Friday will mark his one year, one day anniversary of jumping from Allied Domecq to Sony and what a year it was.

I gave Karraker a ring at his office and after we both laughed about all of the possible headlines I could have used for his departure story (Sony Drives Karraker Back to the Bottle was my favourite), we talked about his year as SCEA's head mouthpiece during what had to have been one of the company's most tumultuous times.

Karraker said that while the company is discussing possible replacements internally, no names have been announced to replace what is "a hugely important role" at the company. But Karraker isn't worried, he says that there are four "super capable" people on top of the different aspects of SCEA PR, the same four to who ran things in the four to six months between Molly Smith's departure from the company and his hiring.

I asked Karraker what he would tell his replacement had he a second to talk to him or her and what he thinks his biggest regret was at the company."I would tell them that open communication with the media, and particularly with the blogs, is very important," he said. "There is a different way to reach our consumers than there was ten years ago. The influence of online and forums and blogging is paramount. Whoever steps into this role needs to know that."

And his biggest regret?

"Don't blackball Kotaku, that's my number one regret... I take that back I never said blackball. Don't get in an argument with Kotaku, that's my number one regret."

Today was actually the first time Karraker and I spoke about the "incident" since the day it happened. We both learned some lessons from it.

"Back when I was working on Sega there wasn't any such thing as blogging," he said. "Since I came back things had changed. I think there is a different way to work with the blogging community then the print community. It's trial and error, right now we have it working really well."

In particular, Karraker points to the official Playstation Blog and its recent successes and tearing down the walls between publisher and consumer.

"It gives us a direct route to the consumer," he said. "From there we have so many sites that tap into it, our main traffic generators are (Kotaku) and maybe Major Nelson."

Since the site's launch everyone from Q&A people to Jack Tretton have posted on it and, it seems, there's quite a list of people who want to.

"Everybody is excited to make a mark on the blog," he said.

But Karraker still believes in the importance of game journalists.

"You always have to have some form of editorial or people won't believe you," he said.

Karraker says he decided to leave the company purely because of the opportunity he was presented, one that shortened his commute, and I suspect, increased his salary, in a field he has experience. And he leaves, he says, knowing that Sony has rounded the curve, figuratively speaking.

"Sony is in an excellent position right now in terms of upward momentum," he said. "I've never worked at a company that has had such a strong line up of games for just one platform and that includes Sega.

"In terms of rounding the curve or coming over the top of the hill, Sony is right there and it's only going to get better for Playstation fans. That light is right there at the end of the tunnel and you can almost touch it at this point."

What is Karraker going to do with his down time? Play games of course. Not only is he trying to wrap up God of War II, but he's been trying his hand at Warhawk and Heavenly Sword recently. And Aaron Greenberg just sent him an Xbox 360 Elite.

Despite the sometimes rocky relationship, our heartfelt best wishes go out to a man who held a job you could never pay any of us at Kotaku Tower enough to do.


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