Jack Tretton may no longer be heading up Team Sony, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a lot of interesting insight to offer about the previous generation of consoles, games, trends and more. In a recent interview, he painted a surprisingly stark picture of the PlayStation 3, a console that struggled to keep up with the competition for many years.
Speaking with IGN, former SCEA CEO and President Jack Tretton had a lot to say about the previous console generation, specifically the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation Vita and the infamous PSN hack from a few years back. They also discussed the era of the PS2 and how the PS4's lifecycle seems to mimic it, but Tretton's real expertise lies at the heart of PlayStation's current history.
When discussing the PlayStation 3, for instance, Tretton admitted that the console was maybe not the most forward-thinking piece of hardware on the market. Or maybe it was actually a bit too forward-thinking, and thus costly, for its time.
...Because of the Cell processor and all the proprietary technology, it was difficult to develop for, it was difficult to manufacture, it was extremely expensive to manufacture. So at the price it came out at, everybody knew that wasn't a consumer-friendly price. Amazingly, that was losing a lot of money for Sony, even at that price.
While working for Sony, it's not surprising that Tretton's job was to sing a pretty different tune. Last generation, the topic of how difficult it was to develop for the PlayStation 3 became an interesting debate. An article would run one day wherein a developer would discuss having issues working with the Cell processor and, a few days later, another developer would be praising the hardware and discussing how, after some growing pains, it was much easier to work with. For Sony's part, it was all sunshine and rainbows, with folks like Tretton touting the power of the Cell and what it could mean for developers.
The same goes for the price of the console. When the PS3 first shipped, you could expect to pay around $500 for a 20GB model or a whopping $600 for a 60GB model. Sony argued that the price point was a steal for the hardware under the hood and, according to this recent interview with Tretton, it sounds like they were shooting from the hip on that count.
But, obviously, it all worked out in the end. Sony was able to make the console more affordable and put a heavier focus on making games, drawing indie developers and growing its PlayStation Plus initiative. The PlayStation 4 is the result of that learning process, along with its worldwide success.