Sony's head of PSP marketing in North America would only confirm that part of what longtime developer Dave Perry recently said about the PSP's future is true.
The following is an excerpt from an interview I conducted today with Sony Computer Entertainment of America's John Koller, the director of PSP marketing in North America. I originally booked the phone interview with Koller to discuss the stunning line-up of PSP games Sony announced earlier this week, but by the time we talked, there was the PSP2 rumor to discuss that had been churning through the Internet ever since veteran game designer Dave Perry Twittered that a disc-free PSP2 was in the works for a possible fall release.
I'll have a lot more from Koller about the new games and the future of the PSP on Friday, but let's start here by dealing with the Dave Perry rumor. This is how I broached the topic:
MTV Multiplayer: Do you still consider Dave Perry a friend?
John Koller, Director of Hardware Marketing for the PSP: [laughs] That's a great question! I didn't even know who he was until about a month ago. I heard about [his PSP2 report] yesterday. We've never talked to him at all. I can tell you that we never engaged with him at all, so I don't know where he's getting his information.
MTV Multiplayer: Well, he says in his interview with Brian Crecente at Kotaku that he's spoken to a developer who has a development kit for a PSP2. [NOTE FROM STEPHEN: In retrospect, I realize Perry didn't say that the developer had a dev kit but said the developer was working on a prototype of the system.] It doesn't specify whether this is a sequel to the PSP platform or another iteration of the existing one. And he describes it as a PSP that doesn't have a disc slot. It's all digital, solid-state media. Is he making that up? What's the story there?
Koller: I can't go too much into detail other than to say there are no new hardware development kits out there. I will say that we have constantly looked at ways PSP can innovate. I think this last iteration [the 2008-released PSP 3000] said a lot in terms of how we view the business and how we want to move the platform going forward. We wanted to make sure the screen stayed intact. We wanted to make sure the resolution was better. And we added the microphone for the social communication function.
We look at areas like that rather than I think Dave talked about some wholesale shifts in design. I will say, though, because I did read his piece earlier that Sony's making a big push to digital distribution. That part's true. And we've been making a concerted effort to really over-emphasize the ability for publishers to publish on the PSN. Fits our view of the world. Eventually the digital distribution arm will have some leverage. I think consumers right now are choosing some tangible benefits of the disc. But we saw how that movie ended with music. And we know there are certainly some benefits to promoting that part of it now.
MTV Multiplayer: Right. That's probably the part of the pitch you didn't talk about at [retail summit] Destination PlayStation [earlier this week].
Koller: Right. We talked about it a little bit because retail realizes that digital is a significant component. And their big take now is how do we get involved with that business as opposed to having it be the enemy… Obviously the PlayStation Network card is a first step. They can sell those, make margins and become involved in the business. That's a positive for them.
MTV Multiplayer: Ok. Just so we can have this as clear as we can get it: the rumor out there is that there's going to be a new PSP that doesn't use the UMD coming out by the end of the year. True or false?
Koller: Can't comment either way, but I will reiterate that the digital component is very important to us. That's all we can say at this point.
MTV Multiplayer: What do you make of the fact that there's been months now of rumors of PSP2 and word that a PSP2 is right around the corner. What do you attribute that to?
Koller: I think it's been four years of it. I launched the PSP and since day one I've been hearing that the second one is coming out… We always attribute it here to tremendous interest in the platform. There's a lot of interest in not only the large scale development community but also in the smaller development community of looking for ways to integrate into the business. There's a lot of people who say and think of ways that it would make more sense to them for the PSP to be designed a certain way. Everybody asks us for a second analog stick or about screen size. We do regularly quantitative and qualitative research. And where possible, we do integrate. Things such as the Skype integration, those types of things. All of those things came from consumer requests.
Dave Perry probably doesn't count in the consumer request department. [laughs]. But general consumers, PSP owners, who ask for things like better battery life, we launched a battery kit that has a better battery life. We try to make sure those things are integrated.
Look for a whole lot more from Koller about "LittleBigPlanet" PSP, expanding third party support and the reason for this PSP revival ... all tomorrow here on Multiplayer.