During the Gran Turismo 6 launch event held last week, GamingBolt got a chance to interview Atindriya Bose, Indian Country Manager at Sony Computer Entertainment. We were able to talk about the company’s plan for the Indian PlayStation 4 launch, pricing of the console and games, the potential of Gaikai and more.
Rashid Sayed: Gran Turismo 6 is one of the last major first party exclusive for the PlayStation 3. How important do you think the title is for the console?
Atindriya Bose: Gran Turimso as a franchise is very close to our hearts and when we built the IP we looked at continuity. It started with the PSOne and all the way down to the PS3 version [GT6], so I think it’s a very important franchise. We want the racers or the people who are involved with racing simulators to get bigger and better experiences and we will keep growing this franchise. As a franchise it’s very close to our hearts, one of our favorites obviously, so it’s a very important launch to us.
Rashid Sayed: There are already talks about a potential Gran Turismo 7. Any comments on that?
Atindriya Bose: It’s a bit too early to comment on it. I have also heard a lot about it. As I said, as a franchise it’s one of the stronger performing ones and right now our focus is on Gran Turismo 6. It’s a franchise that leads to newer, better and bigger things. So a comment on GT7 is bit too early and speculative. Gran Turismo as a brand, we will keep on nurturing and GT6 launch happening parallel to the PlayStation 4 is something that showcases the amount of focus we have on the PlayStation 3. We are very proud of it.
Rashid Sayed: So the big question. When do you plan to announce the Indian release date for the PlayStation 4?
Atindriya Bose: As of now, the only thing I can comment on is somewhere in the middle of December we will make an announcement. [Update - This is happening on December 18th, 2013]
Rashid Sayed: So is it going to launch this year or will it slip to 2014?
Atindriya Bose: This is a very difficult question for me to comment on. To be frank with you, when we make the declaration on the exact date we will start the billing. If there is an explanation that needs to be given we will definitely give it. We won’t shy away from it. There are certain things which are beyond our control that held us back.
Rashid Sayed: Fluctuating markets and currency rates?
Atindriya Bose: See, fluctuating market and dollar rate are something that fluctuates the price point but once you are decided you are ready to launch it. But there are specific India logistics that come into play which is why we slip a month here and there. We will try clearing all the doubts by mid-December where we will actually have a get together [for press] where we will give the date and a price point.
Rashid Sayed: Given that the PlayStation 4 has already sold over 2.1 million units, do you think the Indian PlayStation 4 launch will be the biggest launch for the PlayStation here?
Atindriya Bose: In terms of numbers, yes. I am confident that on launch will surpass the number of PlayStation 3s we have sold in perhaps the second or the third year. It will mature much faster. It also gives us the opportunity in the Indian market to create a shine again across the PlayStation experience. This is something that we have done in a different way in the past, like the old PlayStation experience where we give you the signature of what the PlayStation is all about.
Rashid Sayed: Let us talk about your competition: Microsoft. So the PlayStation 4 is not only technically ahead of the Xbox One [on paper], but the latter does not launches here until late next year. Does this make you comfortable that you already have a lead here?
Atindriya Bose: What makes me more comfortable is that we are being deemed technically superior. That is something that is being corroborated worldwide in terms of the following, sales, the speed we are generating and the type of experience that we are even seeing in India. Their [Xbox One's] delay in terms of launch is something that they have to decide. In India I have always frankly held that more the merrier. India is still in a market building phase, so more competitors, more publishers is much better.
Rashid Sayed: Two aspects of the PlayStation 3 Indian launch were criticized. One was the price point of 39,990 INR and the Indian PSN store was lacking in content when compared to the ones found in Europe and North America. How do you plan to fix these two things with the launch of the PlayStation 4?
Atindriya Bose: When we launched the PlayStation 3 it was almost the start of the PlayStation business in India. Obviously we were not ready with the online offerings. The online adoption in India is quite good with a lot of people using the PlayStation Network. Everything that can be done for the PSN, PS+ for the PlayStation 4 will be up and running day one.
In terms of price, given the current world market price point we will try and bring it to at a competitive level. But at the same time we also need to see the flexibility in the game’s pricing or the overall business model so that we can invest in the Indian gaming market to broaden the whole market.
Rashid Sayed: Are PS4 games going to be replicated locally?
Atindriya Bose: In terms of local replication for the PlayStation 3, that is already being handled by Sony DADC. So all first party games are being handled by them, expect for the special packs which gets bundled outside of India. At what point of time we will look into the PS4 games will obviously open up for technical discussions and business models. So neither ruling it out nor saying that it will happen immediately. In terms of local replication for the PS3, we have done our stuff for the first party games, we will also create a third party business model and parallely we will keep on evaluating the PlayStation 4 games replication.
Rashid Sayed: Sony has welcomed indie developers with open arms on the PS4. Do you think this could potentially help the local games development scene?
Atindriya Bose: I definitely think so. Previously when we developed games there was a lot of hand folding not in terms of confidence but in terms of business model. It requires not only the publisher but also the format owner to support it, bundle it and make a viable business model. But at the same time it also gives us an indication on how the Indian IPs can perform locally and internationally. So in that way PlayStation 4 can be very open where these Indian IPs can be translated. I see it as a very viable play area for Indian indie developers.
Rashid Sayed: A number of retailers are opening up pre-orders for the PlayStation 4. Do you think having a very high price point will deter sales?
Atindriya Bose: If you put into perspective what the global price point is, where the value of INR stands, and the Indian tax structure remains as is. We will try to be as competitive [in terms of price] as possible but ultimately we will have to make a business model that is viable. Today Indian consumers are comfortable within certain price points wherein if you define the value they are ready to participate. PlayStation 3 at 39,990 INR was almost alone.
PlayStation 4 at the currently quoted price point is not alone. So I don’t think that is too much of a deterrent, we are already seeing that in our pre-order numbers. But over a period of time everything including the price point will have a movement. When and how we don’t know but in terms of creating a viable business model we will come at a viable price point and at the same time it gives me adequate number of participants.
Rashid Sayed: How strong are the PS4 pre-orders in India?
Atindriya Bose: Under the pre-defined number of allocation we are already asking retailers to hold on.
Rashid Sayed: It’s doing very well then.
Atindriya Bose: Ye.
Rashid Sayed: Do you think Indian market has potential for Gaikai?
Atindriya Bose: As of now the full plan for Gaikai for the PlayStation 4 and how it holds out is not yet known, market wise. One of the things that holds back Indian market is the local internet infrastructure. It’s not just about Gaikai but also the PSN downloads as well. So due to bandwidth and other restrictions people don’t download but the speed at which the infrastructure is changing so there is a huge opportunity for internet services that we are going to look at. If that happens then the advantages that are being promised by Gaikai, it has the potential anywhere in the world not just in India.
What about tie ups with local internet service providers for Gaikai?
Atindriya Bose: Once the environment is feasible, we will take globally successful strategies and bring it to India. You can tie up with many internet service providers here. But are the consumers ready yet? Those are the kind of things we have to evaluate before we jump in.
Rashid Sayed: What can you tell us about the pricing of 1st party PS4 games in India?
Atindriya Bose: Considering from SCEE side, our Indian launch price will be 3,999 INR for 1st party titles.
Rashid Sayed: Any control over the pricing of 3rd party games?
Atindriya Bose: No we don’t. We have the royalty arrangement and then it is for the 3rd party to decide [the pricing].
Rashid Sayed: Do you have any plans for bringing a PS4/PS Vita bundle?
Atindriya Bose: We don’t have any plans like that. One of things we see differently for the Indian market compared to the international audience is a single console. At the same time having a PS3 along with the PS Vita, that’s a bit rare.
Rashid Sayed: What are your plans for 2014?
Atindriya Bose: If you look at 2013 we have reinvented the excitement behind the launch of the PlayStation 4. We have a huge base and we have the responsibility of broadening the gaming market with PS2 and PSP. Going forward the market will be driven by the PSP in the distribution segment and then the experience you can get out of the PS Vita.
We are quite excited because the PS Vita is coming in the turf that we are comfortable with. Next year will be all about providing real hands on experiences for the core consumers, the gamers. We will keep exciting gamers with newer things. This will form the core of our marketing strategies going forward. Indian market will be excited by the PlayStation 4 but will be driven by the PlayStation 3.
Rashid Sayed: Thanks for your time Atin. It was great speaking to you.
Atindriya Bose: Thank you.