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Sony PlayStation (Games)

Sony and Kutaragi - What Went Wrong? 57

Last week's news that Ken Kutaragi was stepping down from his post at Sony wasn't exactly a surprise, but it does raise a number of questions. Given reports that Kutaragi has visions for PlayStations 4, 5, and 6 and analyst speculation that he'll be involved with those products as well, why is he on the way out the door? 1up's Editor Sam Kennedy spends some time ruminating on the situation on his site blog, and comes to the conclusion that this may be what Kutaragi wanted all along. "No one doubted Kutaragi's vision or ability to create fantastic hardware, but his failure as an executive was holding the division back. This is why Kaz Hirai took his place. With the PS3 off and running at the start of a 10-year life cycle, Sony won't need a visionary for quite some time -- now, it needs someone to run the business. And Kaz is right for that. He's a team player and has great relationships with the publishers. He can take things from here. But in all of this hubbub surrounding his departure, what's perhaps been overlooked is that this may have been what Kutaragi had also wanted. It's unfortunate, as the expectation was always for Kutaragi to climb the corporate ladder, yet this wasn't necessarily his goal. As he once told Newsweek about his executive role, 'We have so many things to create, but unfortunately for me I have a lot of responsibility right now...This was not in my dream.'"
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Sony and Kutaragi - What Went Wrong?

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  • Visionary indeed (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
    The problem Sony put themselves into is that "better" could mean less power [on paper] which would be hard to sell given their current attitude that FLOPS == fun.

    If the PS4 was more economical, and also less powerful chances are it would be a very hard sell without really distancing themselves from the PS3.

    Look at Wii, sure they made it faster, probably added some ram to it, etc. But they're not a stats junkie. They're not dependent on raw numbers to sell consoles. Instead they rely on it actually being
    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @02:25PM (#18960267)
      True, Nintendo has been very successful focusing on gameplay instead of raw power. But I still think Sony's approach (FLOPS=fun) may have been successful, if only they had delivered! Instead, they put a revolutionary CPU and storage medium stuck behind a weak video card. On a games machine, that is a colossal mistake. PS3 games don't look any better than XBox 360 games. If you want to charge more, you have to deliver the goods.
      • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus poet> on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @02:28PM (#18960339) Homepage
        I'd rather go for more interactivity than pixels. I mean what's the point of having 1600x1200 resolutions when you're no more capable to perform non-linear operations [e.g. mess with the env] than you could 10 years ago?

        In FPSes for instance it would be nice to be able to destroy walls, pick up things, etc. Half-Life 2 kinda goes in that direction but many games are just really shiny with little going on behind the scenes.

        Sure it's nice to play games with graphics, but usually their appeal lasts a lot shorter than games with actual engagement to them. The better studios know how to balance this.

      • by trdrstv ( 986999 )

        PS3 games don't look any better than XBox 360 games. If you want to charge more, you have to deliver the goods.

        Ironically, they don't even look as good as 360 games. They may look as good as 'First gen' 360 games, but that isn't what they are competing with. Does any PS3 game look as good as Gears of War yet? Not by a long shot.

        • by DarkJC ( 810888 )
          I think the primary factor behind this isn't the PS3, it's more the fact that it has yet to get a game released on it using Unreal Engine 3. I believe Unreal Tournament 3 will be the first one, and since it'll be multiplatform, we'll be able to truly compare the capabilities of each console.

          For example, the age old Resistance vs. Gears of War argument from back in the day. Gears of War obviously comes out far far ahead in terms of looks, but this is mainly because UE3 included texture streaming support r
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by trdrstv ( 986999 )

            For example, the age old Resistance vs. Gears of War argument from back in the day. Gears of War obviously comes out far far ahead in terms of looks, but this is mainly because UE3 included texture streaming support right away. Insomniac didn't build it in to their first engine on the PS3, and thus it didn't look as good. If you look at Ratchet and Clank PS3 however, it looks gorgeous. Surprise, it has texture streaming support.

            It's also the type of game that allows some games to be higher res than othe

      • Keep in mind your comparing first gen PS3 games to 3rd abd 4th gen Xbox games. There is more potential in the PS3 despite the parity of the RSX to the Xenos. The Xenos has some nifty features over the RSX too but generally they aren't that far apart.
      • by Castar ( 67188 )
        I think that has more to do with a failure to utilize the processor well than a "weak" graphics card. It's easy (well, relatively speaking) to use the Cell to supplement the RSX (it's really, really good at doing pre-rendering tasks), and that way you have more flexibility when algorithms change or when you want to shift power over to AI or physics instead of graphics (like Katamari or Loco Roco or something for PS3).
    • I don't see why people keep comparing the PS3 and the Wii. The fact is, each one is targeting a different audience. You can not only see it in the final product, but the advertising and marketing they're employing to sell it.

      There are benefits to targeting the people Sony is. These people would be a lot more likely to spend money on other high-tech Sony gadgets. Nintendo makes nothing but games, so their sole purpose in life is to sell as many "toys" (as you put it) as possible. Sony has bigger things to pa
    • I think price was probably the largest setback for the PS3 on the consumer end. It just doesn't make sense to plan for a 10 year cycle on a console. What Sony did was make price sacrifices to appear to have a small advantage in power. This is a bad idea for two reasons.

      First, computer components become more powerful and cheaper to build way too fast. You know what happened in 10 years on the CPU side? In 1997, Intel released the Pentium II; you wouldn't still use that to play modern games, would you?

      • No reason the Wii can't come out with wireless controllers [conventional style] if Wiimoting proves to get old for gamers. So they still have an out.

    • Sony's real problem for the PS3 is that they keep up this idea of having a video game console be more than that. Yeah, having a gaming machine play movies is a big plus...back in 2002 when the PS2 was coming out and could do that because Sony was moving over to DVD media. But for some reason, they thought they needed that for the PS3 and that's where they failed. If they had just competed with Microsoft on their own terms--a real monster of a machine that didn't need a next-gen media drive--then they wou
  • by BKX ( 5066 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @01:54PM (#18959749) Journal
    "there's a good possibility that the industry will come together on a platform standard"

    My ass. There's no way in hell. We already have a standard gaming platform. It's called the PC. The industry won't make another one. Well, Microsoft might claim to, but it won't really be a standard.
    • by jchenx ( 267053 )

      My ass. There's no way in hell. We already have a standard gaming platform. It's called the PC. The industry won't make another one. Well, Microsoft might claim to, but it won't really be a standard.

      Mac fans may cry foul here. Also, what do you mean by "platform"? There are so many variants to the PC platform. Games run different, depending on your processor speed, type, amount of RAM, video card, etc. If anything, I'd say the PC platform is far from being the "standard gaming platform". That's why there ar

      • by BKX ( 5066 )
        This is exactly what I'm talking about. None of the companies that make consoles will adhere strictly to the standard and we'll have wars over what's good and what's not. The standard console will be as standard as a PC.
      • Mac fans may cry foul here.

        There's nothing that differentiates a Mac from a PC hardware-wise. Well, nothing important anyway. The Mac OS runs on the same "platform" as Windows. So does Linux and basically every other OS out there. What you're talking about is the software OS, which is ultimately pretty meaningless in game consoles - I mean I know not all Mac-heads agree, but an OS only exists to run programs and to act as a conduit between your hardware and other software. Consoles didn't even have st
      • by garyok ( 218493 )

        Mac fans may cry foul here. Also, what do you mean by "platform"? There are so many variants to the PC platform.

        How do you make sure you sell stuff? By having something that your competitor doesn't have and the punter wants and doesn't mind paying for. (What the punters really want is more, better stuff for free, but hey...) That's why there's different types of personal computers and that's why there'll always be different console architectures.

        There's 2 more reasons: trust and commodification. For trus

        • But it works with VHS, DVD, CD etc... These are just commodity electronic goods working to common(ish) standards. The differentiation comes in quality of components, styling, brand and so-on. Saying this, I still agree with the general feeling that this will never happen with games consoles.
          • by garyok ( 218493 )
            It's been tried before with MSX (to a certain extent) and 3DO. Both of these attempts to standardise a platform for playing games to be manufactured by multiple parties - and they were thrashed in the marketplace. The customers went a different way and platform manufacturers were stuck trying to sell last year's stuff. Any architecture changes to stay competitive are going to have to go through a shed-load of corporate nonsense. Sony can't even get its own divisions to play nicely together.
    • Microsoft might claim to, but it won't really be a standard.

      Dare you speak ill of the Zune, sir?!?!

    • Yeah, because the idea of a standardized console platform was so successful [] before.
    • Not likely. At the very least with consoles you end up with - in a given period of time - 2 or 3 unique combinations of hardware/software to base games on.

      With a PC, you have:

      Variable hardware: Everything from CPU to RAM to graphics card... and trust me there's a lot of difference between an Intel i810 onboard and a newer Nvidia/ATI card
      Variable operating system: Windows tends to be predominant, but at the moment even that is fractured (XP or Vista), with other possibilities including MacOS or Linux
      • The PC isn't the standard, openGL, DirectX(3D), etc are the standard and they do pretty well at it (DirectX10 MS stuff aside).

        If they standardize the interface it would be fine, as far as hardware goes yes each 2 years of computer hardware improvements means that your software won't be playable on the older stuff (Build for 3 year old hardware and you get a 5-6 year window). Which is mostly a problem because of software designers trying to push the envelope (the 360 is old, no one seems to complain about
    • Oh, please. There's hardly anything that's "standard" when it comes to a PC.

      Anyways, the standard game console thing is already begining to happen.

      Games are just getting too expensive to produce, and it's just not economical to simply release your game exclusively for one platform. Even though it's still early for this generation, we're already seeing a large number of multiplatform games, and, unlike previous generations, the differences in the graphics on the different platforms is almost negligble.

      At t
      • by BKX ( 5066 )
        I'm not saying that it's not possible, just highly unlikely. And I know that the PC platform is highly variable and fractured, but it wasn't always, and that's my point. The PC started out as an IBM machine that others implemented clones of. It was a true standard (hardware) platform. It ran MS-DOS, which also had numerous standards compliant clones (4dos, ndos, now freedos). It, too, was a true standard (software) platform. Together, they formed a true, standard platform. Move forward twenty years, and loo
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dutch Gun ( 899105 )

        Oh, please. There's hardly anything that's "standard" when it comes to a PC.

        I'm not sure what you mean by that - the entire PC architecture is predicated on a very large number of well-established standards, past and present: ISA, PCI, IDE, EIDE, SATA, USB, PS2, VGA, various memory chip standards, etc, etc... All of these standards mean that components can, with some rare exceptions, mix and match freely with nearly any PC device. Pluck a hard drive out of an alienware PC, and it's a good bet it will work just fine in a random Dell or HP computer.

        And, although many here are pro

        • by amuro98 ( 461673 )
          Although the content wouldn't have to be recreated, there are still significant differences in the architectures, drivers and APIs that would require some tweaking, no? I'll grant that it's become a lot easier to do a port over the years, but it's still not as simple as just recompiling for the different platform, and sending the result to manufacturing.

          One of the complaints from the PS2/Xbox generation was that many of the games ported to the Xbox were done very hurriedly, without any extra optimization o
        • Market forces could if the cost of a "game box" continues to go up two times the previous price each launch cycle. Thinking long term (15+ years) I would hope we get to a point where there is simply one motherbrain in everyone's home that you access through different terminal points setup however you want (desk with a monitor and input devices (keyboard/mouse), a wall that is your monitor with a tv style remote (bonus if we get wifi from the brain working). all your content and games is on there, no need fo
    • Plus the fact (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 )
      that there was a "standard" gaming platform in the past - it was called the 3D0.

      It flopped for many reasons, but I think the primary one was that being a standard, no one hardware company was heavily invested into it, thus having it make or break the bank dependent on success. Usually the one who makes the hardware ensure killer games by making them in-house or licensing them.
      • there was a "standard" gaming platform in the past - it was called the 3D0.

        Actually, it's "3DO" and not "3D0" (the letter O and not the numeral zero). This is an incredibly common mistake, and no true partisan of the platform would have made such a mistake. :-)

        As for the reasons for the 3DO's demise, there were many... The licensing structure was set up eventually to share some of the licensing fees with the hardware manufacturers, since they quickly realized that they weren't making money on the hardwar

  • comes to the conclusion that this may be what Kutaragi wanted all along.

    The article I read on this topic yesterday made mention of the fact that Kutaragi had wanted to retire at age 50 (i.e. 6 years ago). Assuming that's true, yeah, this isn't much of a shock...

  • I mean, really.
    • PS2 still has life in it. You can't look at Okami, GoW2, or RE4, and tell me there isn't plenty of room for gaming in this generation.
    • PS3 was obviously rushed to market. From my understanding, developers had about a week to get used to the SixAxis, and the first slate of games was shallow at best.
    • Nobody's passionate about HD-DVD v. BluRay, and cross-standard DVD players are already in the market.
    • Tacking on the BluRay drive achieves little, at least compared to including the CD player
    • Nobody's passionate about HD-DVD v. BluRay,

      Oddly, many people are passionate about HD-DVD versus BluRay, but few are passionate about HD-DVD OR BluRay. Subtle distinction?

      • by mckwant ( 65143 )
        Point taken, and well put.
        • I'll second this. Plus nobody on either side has done much to make either format attractive to consumers outside of picture quality. If one of them started putting out TV shows by the season/more episodes per disc, then they might have better luck. Plus rumor has it that most of these releases don't even have the extras that the standard DVDs do. Real nice way to attract more people to a format: charge one and a half times more for something that has half the content. Right.
  • Let me guess: even more horsepower and storage so all the exact same games can be remade once again with even better graphics? The Wii has killed off this stale 'vision', thankfully. I hope and fully expect that in the next generation, the console makers will try to outdo each other with innovative controller concepts - think live motion capturing.
  • What went wrong? Ken opened his mouth in public before he had any idea what he was going to say. Repetedly. The man is a walking PR nightmare.

    Honestly, I think Eurogamers [] take on it is far more even handed than 1ups, which is something I'm almost never able to say.

  • Just as an aside, Sony is talking about the PS3 having a lifetime of 10 years, and even if we assume that the PS4 will be out a few years before that; how useful of a "vision" of the PS4 and/or the PS5 could a guy really have? More photorealistic graphics and a greater draw distance? Real destructable terrain? NPC's controlled with AI that doesn't suck? Those a pretty generic things, and are more about the general march of technology than any creative vision.

    Beyond that, I fail to see what vision really wen
  • PS9 (Score:3, Funny)

    by revengebomber ( 1080189 ) on Wednesday May 02, 2007 @06:38PM (#18964517)
    This is all really sad. Now we'll never see his vision of the Playstation 9 [] become a reality.
  • Ken was a team player right up until the team realized they were firing him cause PS3 wasnt doing well.

    I'm sure Ken was a team player too...

  • Does he really? Maybe that's part of the problem. If you focus too hard on the future you lose your grip on what's happening right now.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay