We got the chance to speak with senior vice president at Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios Europe, Michael Denny, while he’s here for PlayFest in Sydney. 

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First of all, can you tell us a little about your job at Sony Interactive?

Michael Denny, senior vice president, Sony Interactive: “I have the pleasure, and the privilege, of heading up Sony’s Worldwide Studios in Europe, so teams like Guerrilla Games, Media Molecule, and London Studio; all those great talented development teams out of Europe.”

What have been some of the highlights of the year so far?

MD: “It’s interesting. It’s been fantastic to be here at the PlayFest event. One of the stats I’m sure you’ve seen is that we’re celebrating a billion hours of play on PlayStation in Australia over the last year. A big part of coming out here was to celebrate that. At Worldwide Studios, we hope we can contribute in our own way to those hours of play by making great titles with exclusive content for the players. If you look at 2017, it was a stellar year, with games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and the return of Gran Turismo – it’s been a great year so far. The excitement now is around PlayLink which just launched; we’re super excited by that. I told in presentations how it was inspired by games on the PlayStation 2; games like Singstar, EyeToy, games that would make it to a wider audience. The other thing I’m here to talk about is the games coming out next year and beyond.”

Where did the initial idea for PlayLink come from?

MD: “The real idea behind PlayLink is – PlayStation 4 has done so well, and we’ve now sold over 60 million consoles worldwide, and we were thinking how cool it would be for all our core gaming fans who have friends and family that perhaps aren’t as engaged with games as they are to have content on the PS4 that can appeal to them as well. So with occasions – especially coming up on the Holiday season – there’s great content there that can appeal to everyone. We’ve got quiz games, more narrative-based games like Hidden Agenda. We also recently announced a game called Erica that’s another narrative-based game, but also very innovative in terms of its use of live-action and branching storyline. We feel there will be something fit for everyone.”

How has PlayStation VR been tracking so far?

MD: “It’s such a different type of experience. It’s so exciting to be able to think about the paradigm shift of first playing games on TV – which is like a window into the game world – then into VR where you’re putting the player right in the middle of the world. Whereas for the creators, it gives a whole new playset and a whole new design set to work with, and they find it incredibly exciting. It’s great that people who are experiencing VR really get that they’re being exposed to a differentiated experience. With PlayStation VR, as part of its DNA we want to be giving the innovative experience to as many people as possible.”

“It’s great that people who are experiencing VR really get that they’re being exposed to a differentiated experience.”

Do you think there is untapped potential in VR for existing IPs that maybe hasn’t been looked into?

MD: “That’s an interesting question. There have been some great IPs that have come to the platform, whether it’s Resident Evil, or Skyrim or DOOM to come, they show how well some of these existing IPs can translate over to VR. I’m sure there will be many more of them to come as well. We also announced a new IP for VR – Blood and Truth – that we announced at the European Games Show in Paris. It was built ground up for VR, and it’s really shaping up to be the AAA title that people want on VR. I think PlayStation VR will be able to show off these titles really well.”

What games are you personally looking forward to most?

MD: “That’s always a tough question. When you look at the lineup coming in 2018 and beyond, there are so many big titles. That’s part of the excitement of being involved with PlayStation. All these big announcements and the AAA titles coming out like Spider-Man and Ghosts of Tsushima – they’re really gonna resonate well with gamers. Then we’ve got more creative games like Concrete Genie coming out. One of my favourites and something I can’t wait for people to get their hands on is definitely Dreams by Media Molecule.”

That looks great! Australians are really looking forward to Detroit: Become Human in particular.

MD: “Yeah that looks amazing too. We’ve been working with Quantic Dream now for many years and I think they have their own take on what they want to do with games. I think Detroit is going to be their most powerful game yet, in terms of the choices you have to make and the endings of the stories and the narratives. It really does take everything they’ve learnt from making games like Heavy Rain and takes it to the next level. It’s going to be super exciting for our fans, definitely.”

Going back to PlayLink, do you think existing IP will be able to benefit from the accessibility as well?

MD: “It’s a good question. Again, it’s like I said with VR. I’m sure existing IP will translate well to the concept. As you know, we’ve got Planet of the Apes coming to PlayLink as a narrative experience, and I think that will be super exciting for players. I don’t rule out other IPs making the jump across, either.”

What do you think the future holds for VR?

MD: “I think when you look at VR, it’s such a differentiated and new experience; I think creators are still learning, to be perfectly honest, about what experiences really resonate and which are getting the best feedback. We’re finding action games are working well. It’s about really making sure it takes hold of VR in the best possible way, and that everything’s being done with a lot more immersion.”

“I don’t rule out other IPs making the jump across, either.”

With the introduction of a new PS4 Pro model presumably in the middle of a console cycle, where do you think the console model as a whole goes from here?

MD: “I think it’s fair to say it’s an exciting time for everyone involved in the PlayStation ecosystem. One thing we’ve always wanted to do at PlayStation is offer our players choice, so whether you have a PlayStation 4, or a supercharged PS4 Pro, or if you’re into VR, you can get a differentiated experience based on your preference; the experience that suits you best. Ultimately it comes down to content, and that’s what we at Worldwide Studios are all about; trying to produce the best and most innovative content that is out there.”

Finally, can you explain the decision not to include a 4K UHD disc player in the Pro? Does it indicate a more discless model moving forward?

MD: “At PlayStation, we’re all about our players and how they want to consume content; and then, of course, providing that content, whether it’s gaming, streaming, or watching movies. I think you can see from the billion hours of play in Australia in the last year that we’ve been providing the content the way our players want it.”

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