Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Jack Tretton made a day of it at the University of Arizona today, arriving mid-day to attend a game demonstration on the mall before speaking on campus as part of the Eller College Distinguished Speaker series. Tretton also planned to spend some time with his son, John — a UA junior — before heading out Friday.
Tretton has been in charge of Sony's PlayStation video game consoles and games since 2006.
We pulled him aside and asked him some questions.
Q: Do you know when you’ll release the Vita — your upcoming portable game machines — in the U.S.?
A: “We’ll be announcing that shortly. You probably know it will be out before the holidays in Japan. It will be out in the first quarter in the States. It’s something we’re very excited about. I think it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Q: Gamers here reacted negatively when they heard that in Japan the 3G Vita models will have a cap on the amount of data they can download each day. Will there be a cap here as well?
A: “That’s probably based on the partner and the amount of data that they’re going to allow to be fed based on the plan. Unfortunately that’s a Japanese phenomenon. We don’t have any issues and/or announcements of limitations on our deal with AT&T.”
(NOTE: After this article was posted, a Sony PR rep called and said Tretton isn't necessarily correct. Sony has yet to announce either way whether or not there will be a data cap on the 3G version of Vita).
Q: Why didn’t you bring any Vitas to campus today?
“Unfortunately, the number of units that we can get our hands on right now is very limited. And this truck tour is really geared toward PS3. We’ve transformed it for Move in the past and will transform it to Vita in the future. “
Q: Sony Europe said that all future first-party PlayStation 3 games, starting with “Uncharted 3,” will have online pass codes that used-game buyers will have to pay for to play online. Is that the case for the U.S. as well?
A: “I think going forward we have agreed on a global basis that we will have an online pass code and obviously that won’t affect anybody that’s an original purchaser. But if they buy a used game and want to take advantage of online features than there will be a minimal cost associated with it. And that will vary by market.”
Q: With its upcoming Wii U console, Nintendo plans to let gamers play the same games on their tablet controllers that they do on TV. Will the Vita and PS3 have similar functionality?
A: “The relationship between the Vita and the PS3 is absolutely going to be intimate. That’s something that we had hoped to do with the PlayStation Portable but the power of the PlayStation Portable and the accessibility was limiting. With Vita it’s an absolutely symbiotic and natural relationship where conceivably you’ll be able to build up your characters play the game on Vita and then carry the process over to the PS3."
Q: The PlayStation Network failure that lasted from April 26 to May 14, in which hackers swiped personal information from holders of 77 million accounts, damaged the brand. How were you able to navigate out of the negativity from the PlayStation Network outage and data theft?
A: “I think I had my personal feelings and then I have to remember that I work for a large corporation. So certainly you can’t speak from the heart as often or as candidly as you’d like to. But our E3 press conference was my opportunity to address consumers, and I meant everything that I said and I meant it from the heart.
“The consumers are the core of our business and without the consumers we don’t have a business. I just wanted them to know how sorry we were for what they went through. And while we certainly don’t feel we were responsible for it, we felt their pain and I just wanted to send my heartfelt apologies for what they had to go through.”
Q: What did Steve Jobs mean to you?
A: "I had one of the original Macs back in the mid-80s. I think anybody who’s involved in technology or the consumer space knows of Steve Jobs. I didn’t have the pleasure to meet him but I was lucky enough to hear him speak.
“I think certainly that his impact on technology is incredibly profound. I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, I know a lot of Apple employees and he was the nerve center of that organization. I think his contributions go way beyond technology. He’s affected consumers’ lives in many many ways and he’ll be sorely missed.”
Read more of this interview Friday in the Arizona Daily Star and on StarNet.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at email@example.com or 573-4130.