Former PlayStation executive Jack Tretton discusses being made CEO of SCEA just months before the launch of the PS3, suggesting that its high price hurt its launch.
With the release of the PS4 Pro on the horizon, Sony’s video game department appears to be in rare form. The gaming juggernaut may be seeing its vice-like grip on current-gen console sales slipping during this generation’s swan song, but its lead is still sizable and appears prepared to grow. While Microsoft’s Project Scorpio and Nintendo’s NX consoles both look to be serious contenders, the PS4 Pro is being marketed as the machine that will prevent the prophesied migration of console gamers to PCs for another few years.
Despite that bright future, however, it’s worth noting that Sony has been in a dominant position before only to watch it slip away when the next generation of consoles are finally released. Former PlayStation executive and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America Jack Tretton opened up recently to discuss the nearly catastrophic decline in sales that happened after Sony followed the PS2 with its much more expensive younger brother:
“[The PS3] was difficult to develop for, it was difficult to manufacture…so at the price it came out at, everybody knew that wasn’t a consumer-friendly price. Amazingly, that was losing a lot of money for Sony, even at that price.”
For those without a near-perfect memory, the PS3 launched in November 2006 at a baseline price of $600 USD per console. To make matters worse, the PS3 launched nearly a year later than its biggest rival, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and was more expensive as well. It was a harsh reality for Tretton, who had been made the president and CEO of SCEA just months before the PS3’s launch. Tretton elaborated:
“It’s like being made the captain of the Titanic just before it hit the iceberg.”
Obviously, things have since improved for Sony, as the company learned from its mistakes with the PS3 and sought feedback from a number of developers across the globe as it began to finalize plans for the PS4. Sony changed a lot of its personnel and made Mark Cerny the lead system architect for the PS4, a job he was so proficient at that he has since lead the development of the PS4 Pro as well.
While it was the dominant belief at the time, it is nice to hear a Sony executive – even one who no longer works there – confirm gamer suspicion about the PS3’s launch pricing being a huge mistake. Although it’s easy to laugh about Sony’s notoriously bumbling PS3 launch now, however, it was an incredibly stressful time for the company and Tretton as it was happening. If Sony hadn’t rebounded so well with the PS4, the video game market could have looked drastically smaller today, and that would be a titanic shame.