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Interview: Sony's Scott Rohde on PlayStation Move


Sony Worldwide Studios VP Scott Rohde had the onerous task of introducing the first PlayStation Move games at Sony's GDC press conference last night. We caught up with the executive after the show to talk about Sony's plans for exploiting motion control and ask if hardcore gamers should be concerned about the future of the PS3 games library.

Our complete interview with Rohde follows:

It's obviously going to take internal resources to develop games for PlayStation Move. How can you guarantee that this won't take away from the resources devoted to traditional hardcore games?

Scott Rohde: The bottom line is, you know Worldwide Studios is a huge organization. I'm not sure exactly where it sits among other global publishers, but it's right up there. There's a lot of resources put into product development. I'm pretty proud of the roll that we've been on -- with Uncharted 2 kind of sweeping the awards recently.

There's plenty of resources to go around. It's our heritage: we're never going to compromise our core; great exclusive games. This is a new initiative to us. Some teams are looking into how they might incorporate motion control into some existing plans; others are totally focused on making the best sequels to the games we all love. It's not something I'm worried about.

Would you say there's a corporate mandate for teams to explore motion control implementation?

It's something that's interesting about Sony that's perhaps different from other publishers is that we really allow creativity to run its course. Everything from the way a studio is run, to the types of games that are developed. I don't think you'd see a game like Heavy Rain come out of too many places. Even a game like LittleBigPlanet when it was originally conceived -- it took some guts to really get it out there.

Same thing with the motion controller. There are certain groups within Worldwide Studios that are head over heels in love with the idea of creating new motion-controlled games and bringing new audiences in. Others are focused on: "Hey, we're focused on bringing you the next great sequel for the next great game." Corporate mandate? No. But a lot of people are jumping on board because they're excited about it.

Sports Champions reminds us a lot of another collection of sports games on a competing platform. Who's behind that title?

That's a new studio we work with, within San Diego Studios, and that's a perfect example of us acquiring a new resource to build this specifically for us.

A new team that hasn't worked with Sony until the Move controller?

That's correct.

Has Sony partnered up with many new teams to work on motion games?

The short answer is "yes." We're always looking at new development resources. We have a lot of products that we're building. It's something that I'm quite proud of; the sheer number of titles that Worldwide Studios puts out every year. We're always looking at different development resources.

[Sports Champions]

Sony mentioned that we can expect about 20 titles by the end of the fiscal year. How many can we expect at launch?

I'm not sure if first-and third-party titles -- if that's the number we're quoting. [Editor's note: That's the number stated during the press conference.]

From my perspective, there's a lot that we have in the works, more than what we showed today and the third parties are all engaged. But I don't know what the specific number is for launch.

Could you estimate what percentage of upcoming Sony games will support Move?

I don't have a specific number, so I'm going to give you a vague answer here: Like I said earlier, a lot of different teams are looking into it. What's key about the way we're addressing is this: if you look at SOCOM 4, when we started that game, [Move] wasn't in the plans. When we handed the motion controller to that team, we said, "Hey, we want you to experiment with this."

The prototype was running in just a couple of days, and the very tiny overhead didn't affect that code at all. So we're really excited about having that type of interaction, plus new teams bringing totally new ideas to the table. Percentage? I don't know off hand, but a lot of teams are looking into this.

What kind of overhead does the Move take? That's been one of the concerns of Microsoft's Project Natal.

I'm not going to give you a number, but I will say it's insignificant. And this is coming from firsthand experience with SOCOM 4. If it had a significant impact, we wouldn't be looking at it today. It's that simple.


One of our biggest concerns about Move is the potential for it to lead to an excess of minigame collections. Look what's happened on the Wii -- gamers have grown tired of the surplus of shovelware. Yet today, we're seeing exactly those kinds of games for Move. Isn't there some concern that consumers have grown apathetic to this strategy?

It's obviously a concern of ours as well. But, we've taken advantage of the fact that it is a PS3. Sports Champions, for example, has been in development for a while. We're not announcing it yet, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the scope that's offered in that title. These are not just one-off, "hey, play table tennis for fun." There's an overall objective that crosses over all the different events in that title, and there's a lot of long-term play value in there.

How are most of the Move games going to be distributed? It seems like many of these games would be better suited for PSN, instead of retail disc release.

I think the PlayStation Network is an integrated part of what we do. It's a great distribution channel for us. It's a great way for if we happen to have a smaller idea that doesn't make sense to put on a Blu-ray. Why not? Why not distribute it through the PSN? Absolutely.

What happens to "SixAxis" (in the DualShock controller) now that the Move is coming out? Will we see even fewer titles supporting that feature?

I don't think so. To me, it's a simple thing to integrate as well. If someone feels they've got a control mechanic that would be fun with the SixAxis, then why not? If they want to take that to another level, the Move can do a lot more than that.

One thing we haven't mentioned yet, that colored ball on top is actually my favorite feature of the new device. There's a little bit of magic there, when you're playing a game and something happens in the game, and suddenly it changes from green to red in your hand. That's a kind of different experience, something you haven't seen before. I'm pretty confident you'll see people utilizing the SixAxis and taking a bigger shot at the motion control.

Why did it take so long to unveil the "Move" name?

If you can imagine, it's like any other big corporation. There are a lot of different ideas. We're global as a publisher, so different regions have different preferences for how something should be named. A lot of people were involved in that process, but we're very confident that the name we chose really conveys what the motion controller is all about. It's all about movement, right? So the "PlayStation Move" is what we settled on as a global name, and we love it.

[PlayStation Move logo]

Is there a reason why the Move logo doesn't look like the letter "M"?

It's representing movement! That's an interesting question, I don't think anyone's ever asked me that question. It's supposed to represent the swipe of the controller. To me, when I saw it the first time: "It's someone moving the controller. It's a swipe."

[Editor's note: It's been suggested that the Move logo is also representative of the letter "A" -- for "Arc," a reported working title for Sony's motion controller.]

Sony noted that 36 companies are going to support Move, but there's no evidence here. Why were there no third-party games shown at the unveiling event?

So, you have seen EA's announcement recently about Tiger Woods. We researched this technology for a long time internally. It's something that I think we have a big advantage over some of our competition because Worldwide Studios is so broad.

While we were finalizing our technology, we put a lot of games into development. When we finalized it, that's when we were able to give the SDKs and the controllers to the third parties, and what we're happy about is how engaged they were. They were very, very engaged and literally excited about what they could do with this controller. They're all on board, and they're all very excited.

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