Sony UK’s Fergal Gara on the PS4

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During the recent Eurogamer Expo that went on last week/over the weekend, got the chance to speak to Fergal Gara of Sony UK about the launch of the PlayStation 4 and couple other topics. You can read the entire interview on right here.

During Gamescom we learned that, at the time, there were over 1 million pre-orders of the PlayStation 4. While Mr. Gara would not dive into what the current pre-order numbers are, he did have this to say. “I can’t give you a number because I haven’t added up all the other countries! What I will say on behalf of the UK market is it’s not slowed down. It’s kept going. Demand is very very healthy indeed. And even though we’re pouring cold water on it by responsibly trying to manage expectations, it’s not quenching anything! There’s tremendous demand.” He continued with, “I personally feel it would be a dreadful thing for people to think they’re going to get one prior to Christmas Day and that not work out. They’re not all going to be bought by 18 to 24 year-olds who are a bit more grown up. There are going to be some considerably younger people who want a PS4, and if that doesn’t arrive on Christmas Day as expected and we’ve misled people to think that could happen, that’s not good, and we would not feel good about that. So we’re very carefully managing the expectations and I’m pleased with how that’s going so far.”

Though Sony will not divulge the new pre-order numbers of the system, at least in the UK, it seems like the PlayStation 4 is still being pre-ordered like crazy and Gara does mention that they are working hard to make sure there is stock for Christmas. We initially heard from Jack Tetton in an interview, that Sony is holding back some inventory of the PlayStation 4 to keep the likely-hood of stock-outs low.

Another comment that Mr. Gara made towards the launch numbers of the PlayStation 4 showed that the numbers expected is well above anything Sony has done before; “…the pre-order levels are the highest we’ve ever seen, full stop. So pre-orders only need to convert into real sales and that happens. Andy House said last week we’re holding a forecast of five million units of PS4 for the financial year. That’s 50 per cent up on PlayStation 3 for the same time window.”

The Xbox 360 has outsold the PlayStation 4 somewhere around 4-to-1 in the UK. While Sony realizes this and does have plans to make the PlayStation 4 immediately desirable by consumers, but Mr Gara also mentions that this isn’t a race. “This format war, if you want to call it that, is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re coming out of the blocks in a strong position, but we’re conscious that is no-where close to job done, and we have to continually improve the proposition, proving what PS4 represents.

We’ve got a bit of history of doing that. To have a 16 month disadvantage and actually get any market share in the current generation, which is a very connected generation where friends get friends, took a lot of hard graft. Winning Europe and winning Japan despite that big disadvantage… globally we might even be ahead. They’re both big numbers with different regional polarisations, but you’re right, we are behind in the UK and that is not acceptable.”

Later in the interview, the question of the PlayStation Network’s downloading woes. Everyone knows that the service is notoriously slow when downloading a file, so the question is – with an ever increasing trend towards digital downloads of games, how will this be fixed in the new PlayStation Network?

“First of all, it is definitely going to grow as a means of consumption. And there are big innovations in the PS4 to make it more attractive and more easy gamer wise to want to download. The Play as you Download functionality, for example, means you don’t need the whole file before you go. This is a little bit counterbalanced by the fact the files themselves are getting bloody big.” He continues, “It is still a relatively tedious process. We’ve done a lot of work on pre-delivering files. It’s not perfect. It’s not seamless. The file version of the game versus the disc version of the game maybe needs to go through additional QA and additional testing. Some of the problems that have occurred have occurred on older machines, which of course when you go into the next-generation you at least get to reset and start again and everything’s the same age and new. That helps.”

Written by Kyle Jessee

Kyle Jessee

Your lone Kentucky writer on staff. Loves the Big Blue Nation, rock music, and Resistance 2 (the best in the series).

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