The SCEJA Press Conference 2013, held in Tokyo two days ago as part of Sony's lead-up to the Tokyo Game Show next week, held a number of surprises for PlayStation fans. Among the highlights: A new, slimmer PS Vita model, as well as the PS Vita TV, a device that streams video and plays Vita titles on your television. Among the disappointments for Japanese gamers: The PS4 isn't coming out in Japan until Feb. 22, three months after the rest of the world.
"When deploying a new platform, it's important that you have a full line of launch titles," SCE Japan Asia president Hiroshi Kawano told Famitsu magazine in this week's issue. "For this launch, we have a lot of titles from overseas that take time to localize; that's one reason. Also, in addition to these titles, we naturally want to add titles from Japanese makers to this lineup. We can get enough of a selection of these titles if we wait until next February, so that's the launch-date decision that we made."
Still, Kawano admitted to Famitsu that he can see how this would disappoint gamers in his native land. "We'll have a lot of PS4 titles to go with the February launch, but nonetheless, that still means gamers are waiting three months longer than other nations," he said. "That's why we have two packages in store: the PS4 First Limited Pack, which comes with a download code for Knack and an extended warranty, and another package that also includes a PS Camera. That's a symbol of our appreciation for people who step up to buy the system first in Japan."
Outside of Knack — an SCE Japan Studio title directed by veteran industry figure Mark Cerny — nearly the entire US PS4 launch lineup was made in the West. Can gamers expect more titles in the future designed with the Japan market first and foremost in mind? Kawano answered: "I think that we need to see developers find ways to use the PS4's functionality as creatively as they can. I also think that developmental know-how plays hand in hand with this. This is a system that Japanese game makers and developers can harness to make all kinds of ideas happen, and I look forward to our future lineup."
Moving on to the Vita, Kawano told Famitsu that the new PCH-2000 Vita model (coming Oct. 10 in Japan) will open the system to a new audience. "The PS Vita is a portable game system with a lot of potential," he said. "Since we readjusted the price at the end of February, hardware and software sales have both steadily risen. The current PS Vita has a high-class sort of design, but the new Vita emphasizes thinness and lightness. It's an easy-to-use design that a wide range of users can be attracted to and enjoy. I'm expecting that it'll help expand our userbase, and that goes for children and female gamers as well."
And then there's the Vita TV, a hardware announcement that few were expecting. "The PS Vita TV was developed in order to give people who have never played PlayStation games easy access to the wide range of entertainment that PlayStation offers," Kawano explained. "We have a huge archive of games at our disposal, and counting PSP and Vita games, you can play over 1300 different titles on the Vita TV. Another concept was to give users access to a large number of high-quality streaming video services. I think that providing this vast entertainment content at a reasonable price will help us attract more and more of a new audience."
What was Kawano's overall takeaway from the press conference? "Overall I think the conference gave people a chance to feel the possibilities that PlayStation offers," he replied. "In addition, I wanted to show people that we, as a game business, still have room to grow. We're always trying to challenge ourselves with the PlayStation lineup, and if we able to get that across to everyone with this announcement, that makes me really happy."