The PlayStation 4 will launch with 33 planned games by the end of December, a considerable sum. However, as has been noted with the WiiU and Play Station Vita, if there is a dearth of games after the initial hardware launch, then sales will plummet, and it creates a giant hole to dig yourself out of. Just look at the 3DS, originally it wasn’t selling well due to lack of games, but once some software launched, it has been printing money for Nintendo. Shuhei Yoshida, in an interview with Polygon, stressed that Sony was taking great efforts to ensure that wouldn’t happen.
One of Yoshida’s talking points was that the indie scene was very strong and something that Sony intentionally focused on. “We started preparing for the Gamescom press conference after we finished E3, and at that point, we had no idea what we’d be able to announce from these smaller teams. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was informed by our third party teams that this was the lineup of games we had prepared. I was like, ‘Oh! That’s amazing.'”
However, Yoshida also wanted to emphasize that these weren’t filler games meant to simply add a number to the launch line-up. “I think it’s fair to say that every game has a chance once it’s released and more people have a chance to play it,” he said. “Looking back, like last year, Journey got a lot of Game of the Year awards, competing against bigger titles like Call of Duty. So that tells something, that even smaller titles have similar, big impact to consumers. What we’re so excited about in the indie scene is the abundance of these potential, really creative people.” He pointed to games like Towerfall for Ouya, which has been a killer app for the Android-based console. “I wasn’t so closely following Ouya before the launch, but I don’t think everybody knew Towerfall was going to be the title before it launched. That’s another example, I’d say, that system selling titles can come out from anywhere after the system launches. I believe that even smaller games could be that title.”
Yoshida also acknowledged that Sony, in regards to their AAA exclusives, was somewhat lacking, with only Killzone Mercenaries, DriveClub, Knack and inFamous: Second Sun being known games. Yoshida explained, “It’s interesting that when we discuss the lineup and launch timing of titles, we always discuss internally with our marketing teams about strategy, about when we want these games. It’s not like we’re saying we have to release everything at launch or we shouldn’t release everything at launch. They’re also going back and forth; they want to create a larger launch lineup, but at the same time, they want to create a supply of new titles with good pace. That’s a competing goal.” However, he was confident that third parties would be able to pick up the slack, saying, “I think, because we have good support from third parties, I think we should focus more on the steady flow of titles from our studios, rather than trying to get everything for the launch.”
Sony also has a reputation of hyping games that would take years before they were released or are still in production. Notable ones include Killzone 2, Gran Turismo 5, Agent, and The Last Guardian. This is something they want to avoid, according to Yoshida.
“The teams really want to wait until they have something that people will see and say, ‘Wow.” It’s a natural desire for game development teams to wait until later in the development to unveil their titles. I agree, if we talk about some new Naughty Dog game that’s coming, and show some teaser movie or something, people might like it —but that might not be the best presentation of the game they’re actually developing for PS4. It’s a luxury for us not to announce these games we have in development, that we do not feel the need to do that to support the launch of PS4.”