Michael Denny is the head of the Worldwide Studios game development operations in Europe (of which Australia is included) and manages all internal studios and externally developed first party productions. On the day that PlayStation announced Australians had consumed1 billion hours on gameplay, streaming and entertainment over October 2016 – October 2017, we spoke to Michael about future PlayStation releases, how he views the Australian gaming market and the future of PlayStation VR.
Hi Michael, how are you enjoying your time in Australia? Is this one of your first times here?
So this is only my second time to Australia. It’s a quick one, I leave in three days time. It’s actually nice to see the sun in the sky; I mean November as a Brit – what’s not to like?
The main focus of PlayStation at the moment seems to be the unveiling of the exclusive games that we will see in 2018, how is PlayStation securing such a diverse range of exclusives and how are you ensuring it stays diverse?
Yeah so its really what Worldwide Studios are set up to do as an organisation. We know our players love new experiences and the big experiences and we want to try to give them as much of that as possible and that comes from having this diverse range of creators in the group who are passionate about the games they create and are gamers themselves and always want to deliver more. We see our players living the experiences and we just want to keep giving them more.
PlayStation VR has now been out for a full year, how has the feedback and reception been?
Yeah, fantastic. I think the starting point with PlayStation VR is how differentiated that experience is and starting to look at it from the creators point of view to take that different perspective of putting the player in the middle of the game which makes it a totally different paradigm to create for. So that’s exciting – their experiences. Then when you see players sensing that and having that immersion in the gameplay and sharing that with the friends as well and you see how people really react to that experience. With over 100 games now and over 300 creators working on the system, games are getting better and better. Have you tried The Inpatient?
No, no I haven’t.
You should try that. That is good. It’s a slower experience but very immersive and a narrative experience. It’s a slight spin-off of Until Dawn. I won’t say too much more than that.
Where are you hoping VR will go?
Yeah, well that is the exciting thing about VR – it is still in it’s infancy. As I say, a lot of the creators are still experimenting and trying new things. Sometimes you try things you think are going to work and they don’t and sometimes the other way around in VR. That is the beauty of it; this paradigm. You see games getting better and better in real-time. As time goes on I think the experience will grow and grow.
It’s always great to have someone in your role – the overseas executive, come over to Australia to personally talk to and see experience the Australian market. How does Australia fit into your view of Sony Interactive Entertainment on a global scale?
It’s a massively important region for us and that’s why I wanted to come out here and celebrate the billion hours. You know, we just felt we had so much great content to talk about. We’ve had a great year in 2017 with exclusives, 2018 and beyond going forward. At this stage of the life-cycle it’s fantastic to be able to share that with everybody when you look at those games – the triple A’s (AAA’s), Spider-Man, Days Gone. You know, these games are really going to resonate with these players and we just want to talk about it.
It might be hard to choose but what upcoming game are you most excited for?
It is, it is hard to choose. That’s the beauty of those games, they all appeal in different ways but for me I can’t wait for people to get their hands on Dreams and see that community grow.
Yeah, that snapshot I saw looked pretty interesting.
I don’t know if you know Media Molecule and Little Big Planet and what they did with play, create, share but this takes that to the next level. It’s still about creation but the game looks so different. What we’re saying about the game is ‘if you can dream it, you can play it’. The creators will really be able to create anything and the games look so beautiful and so playable it’s going to be so exciting.