The cliffhanger at the end of yesterday's Chain Interview had Xbox exec John Schappert wanting to know what a Sony exec thinks of Xbox Live. Let's get past the halfway point with an answer.
[This post is the third in a series that recounts the chain of questions and answers I solicited from the people I interviewed during E3. I asked each of my interviewees to ask a question of the next one. Hence: Chain Interview.]
In a hotel room suite on the Wednesday of E3 week, I asked the next chain interview question to Sony's Peter Dille. He had just let me play Gran Turismo on his white PSPGo and answered a batch of questions about Sony's E3 showing. Dille was happy to answer Schappert's question, but admitted to having trouble doing so simply due to a lack of regular use of Xbox Live.
Peter Dille, senior vice president of marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment of America responds: "I don't spend a lot of time on it… Xbox Live has been out for a while and Microsoft's done a really good job getting people involved in online gaming. And that's good news for the industry."
Dille surprised me, and I told him so. I thought he would have made a remark about Microsoft charging for online play, but he didn't take the bait. Instead, he took the opportunity to keep the chain going for my next interview, located on floor below.
Peter Dille asks Sony Computer Entertainment vice president of product development Scott Rohde: "What advantages do you see in developing for PS3 compared to other platforms?"
Armed with that query, I headed over to Rohde's room. We talked about Sony's U.S. studios, whose efforts he oversees. He let me videotape his PSPgo's sliding action. And then I lobbed him the softball.
Scott Rohde responds "What developers have discovered over the past three years — you've heard [Sony Computer Entertainment president]Kaz [Hirai]make reference to this in other interviews — it's kind of the machine that just keeps giving. As you peel off new layers of the onion, you kind of find out more capabilities that the machine can do. When people start taking advantage of the [PS3's seven]SPUs and the Cell [processor[ they really find that, wow, we can throw more and more tasks and processes at those SPUs and we have all this freedom on the main processor to do more."
I pointed out to Rohde that Dille was asking for a comparison to other platform. His answer implied that the same kinds of things couldn't be said about the other major consoles. Fair? "Absolutely," he replied. My next interview later in the day would be with Microsoft's corporate vice president of strategy and business development for the company's interactive entertainment division. That'd be Shane Kim, former head of first-party game development for the Xbox 360. This would be Sony's chance to turn things back on Microsoft and keep the chain connected. Question, please?
Rohde prefaced his question by noting that I always ask him about sports games, largely because Rohde used to run Sony's San Diego studio which produces the PlayStation's basketball and basebell games.
Scott Rohde asks Shane Kim: "[Stephen]identifies me as a sports guy and, at heart I, am. I would love to know if Microsoft has any thoughts about getting back into first-party sports development."
Shane Kim's answer, and more links in the chain – including the most awkward question of the week – will run here tomorrow.