Patrick Lagana joined Sony Interactive Entertainment Australia in 1999 and has been involved in the hardware launches of PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 as well as having a hand in bringing Gran Turismo, Eye Toy, Singstar, God of War, Tekken and Crash Bandicoot to the market. Before our interview, Patrick broke the massive news that between November 1st 2016 and October 31st 2017, Australian’s consumed 1 billion hours of entertainment across PlayStation consoles. He sat down to talk with us about future PlayStation exclusive games, PlayStation VR and Australian gamers.
Hey Patrick, it’s great to see the list of exclusives on the horizon.
Yeah it’s not just stuff, it’s really really good stuff so we are excited to be showing you guys exactly what our lineup is in the coming years.
The big gaming showcase events like E3 are so removed from Australia so it’s been good to see a touch of that pop-up in this Playfest event.
Yeah, you’re exactly right. We had Paris a couple of weeks ago and as much as we would love to take everyone to Paris this is the second best thing. To have Michael Denny here, and I’m glad you got to have a chat with him, he kind of looks after all our development across our European studios but he deals with everything globally. He’s right up in that inner sanctum of development and all the projects. I’m sure there is a tonne of stuff that he isn’t able to talk about. His wealth of knowledge and he’s been with the company since day dot. It was really good to have him here.
Yeah, you know I said that to him. It’s nice to see such a senior figure come all this way to be hands-on with Australian gamers. Which leads me into my next question, how does the Australian gaming market and Australian gamers fit into Sony Worldwide?
Yeah, the way we are kind of structured is we are part of the European group. It’s a little bit of a legacy thing because back in the days when you had PAL and NTSC, Australian’s adopted the European standard being PAL. It’s kind of the way we grouped the territories back in the day. Our reporting region is back into Europe, we kind of pair and benchmark ourselves against Europe as a whole and we are doing quite well. When you look at big territories like the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain – Australia is definitely up there with those territories. We are doing quite well as a territory. Even on some games it is pleasing to see we are selling some games more than those big European territories. So we are very, very pleased with that. Horizon Zero Dawn is a great example of that, Australians really embraced it than other European PlayStation owners. Our players really fair up against some of the bigger markets.
Your announcement today that Australians have consumed 1 billion hours of entertainment across gaming and streaming over the past 12 months is pretty remarkable.
Yeah, yeah! It was from the 1st of November last year to the 31st of October this year. So, a very, very current stat and something we are very proud of and quite surprised as well. Big achievement for us.
PlayStation VR has been out for that exact length of duration too, how has that been going in Australia?
VR is still in its infancy but Australians have definitely embraced it. We know through our own brand tracking research that Australians there is high purchase trend among PlayStation 4 owners to purchase VR. I think, content is what they’re looking for and the great thing is the variety of different content and there is more to come, more announcements, more different content creators. We have content creators in the traditional sense and we have Ridley Scott, The Chainsmokers and David Attenborough. Music artists are embracing PlayStation VR as a medium to really indicate their visions and experiences. We are quite confident with that content that we’ve got coming through the pipeline we are only only going to see VR grow in popularity among VR gamers.
What importance do you place on exclusives to the PlayStation brand?
Content is king. It really is. We’ve got all these great innovations in hardware, in peripherals like PlayStation VR but really its going to be the content. Content is the lifeblood of the console and that’s why we feel quite confident with our dedicated team at Worldwide Studios really focus on creating exclusive experiences, also harnessing the power of the hardware – they’re so focused on one hardware system they’re really able to max out opportunities and potential of the hardware and that’s what gamers want to see as well.
So what upcoming title are you most looking forward too?
[laughs] I knew you were going to ask me this one! Do I have to pick? Ok, ok… God of War. I love Kratos. The team has done such an amazing job. Well, I’ve got two. God of War – I think the storytelling by the Santa Monica Studio guys and the character of Kratos himself. I’ve always loved Kratos. He is this big anti-hero and the set pieces, the epic scale of the game gets me really, really excited. I’ll go back to Kratos, he’s just amazing, he’s one of my all time heroes. The other game is The Last Of Us Part II. I think Naughty Dog just have that knack to create those really deep narrative story-lines with proper character development. Personally, I love narrative driven games. I love being taken on a journey. That’s the one thing I’m really big on. Gaming is a legitimate form of entertainment – there is so much time, so much investment made in not only story time but character development and Naughty Dog do such an amazing job at that so I’m really, really excited for The Last of Us Part II. They take some risks, they take some really, really big risks. [laughs] I told you I wouldn’t be able to pick even two, but Detroit as well. It’s another narrative driven game that really puts the player in the centre of making moral studios. That’s what I love about Worldwide Studios – these moral dilemmas, they’re really empowering to the player. Here, you are really asked some questions that have some real ramifications on the outcome of your gaming experience.
Another one that impressed me was Erica on PlayLink.
Yeah, a very, very similar style to [Detroit]. Nothing in it is CGI, it’s all captured, all live-actions and all very seamless and using PlayLink on your mobile phone to interact on the environment and interact on the characters. Again,you are placed in those compromising moral dilemmas to choose one way or another and that will have an impact. I love narrative-driven titles.
PlayLink titles are available solely through the PlayStation Store?
You can download through the PlayStation Store or you can buy at retailers. A cool thing about PlayLink, I don’t mean to come across to sales-y, but an important thing about the proposition is that it’s $25. You get a social experience that you can enjoy for hours and hours with friends and family and people that don’t normally play games. My wife is one of them! I’ve been working with SIE for 18 years and through those whole 18 years I’ve never been to convince my wife to pick up a controller on her own to play a game but something like PlayLink she really enjoys.