Today at a press event held in Mumbai, Sony India announced the India launch of God Of War: Chains Of Olympus and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. The games were launched on same day in Europe and India. Mr. Atindriya Bose and his team had the bragging rights because of what they had achieved, managing a simultaneous European release date for God Of War for the PSP and Gran Turismo 5 for the PlayStation 3.
The launch was held at Sony’s Powai office in Mumbai. The event was conducted in a mini theater where they announced the launch of the games. It began with Mr. Bose showing footages from God Of War: Chains Of Olympus and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Few snippets from the Dev (Ready at Dawn) team of God Of War were also shown where they described their experience of making the game for PlayStation Portable. Basically, it was a short and sweet event. Wait, how do you think it’s possible to just TALK about God Of War and not EXPERIENCE it. They had a whole row of PSP’s bound to chairs with chains and by no means were they any sort of Chains of Olympus. The row full of PSP’s was for the Press who had the access to PLAY the game and EXPERIENCE it. Also, they had a special contest for the press where we were supposed to complete a Challenger Mission from the Game and the winner would get a Kratos figurine – Yours Truly is a proud owner of a Kratos figurine, yes I won!
Though after the main event got over, Mr. Bose (AB) was personally giving answers to questions that were bombarded on him by everyone. I had my share of questions which are listed below along with the answers given by him:
GG: Lets clear up some questions that you are asked most the time. Is there going to be “God of War PSP Edition” -The Red one in India? Are Indians ever going to see the White/Silver/Pink/Yellow/Magenta PS3’s over here?
AB: The Special God Of War PSP edition won’t be released in India. We currently have no plans for that. As for, different color PS3’s to arrive in India is also highly un-probable for now.
GG: Why did you choose to market God Of War for PSP and Gran Turismo 5 for PS3 now? Any special reasons? And how do you expect to further promote these games?
AB: God of War is a cult game with a massive fan following. The matter of fact is that Indian Gamers know what they want. They need not be explained or introduced to God of War as a series, as they are already aware of it. With the press event, we aimed at spreading the word on a game that everyone loves through Blogs, Forums, Gaming sites etc. As for GT5, it is one of the best racing Sims to be ever produced and in the future we will definitely promote this game by organizing competitions etc..
GG: What about the special edition Logitech Racing Wheel that has been specifically released for Gran Turismo 5, after all PS3 is all about the experience and without the Racing Wheel, the experience is almost lost.
AB: To tell the truth, we were offered the whole package by Polyphony with a huge dome shaped kiosk with the GT experience right within it. As for the Racing Wheel, we aren’t denying the fact that it won’t release here. If Logitech decides to have such a product here, then you might have it. It’s basically their decision.
GG: Since you have released GT5 Prologue, you might be aware that for the first time in the history of Gran Turismo it has online functionality where players can play against each other. So, does it mean we can expect PlayStation Network and Store soon to compliment the GT5 Prologue launch?
AB: One of my primary aims when I became a part of Sony India was to push for the development of PlayStation Network and store over here. Today we have reached a stage where we can start the Network but the problem is that, the broadband penetration is too low. Even if we do start the service, what’s the use if the download stops half way through and spoils the entire experience of PSN. US users have the tendency to blame everything except the ISP because of which we are facing such a situation today. But there is no doubt that PSN and Store will be fully functional in India in a couple of months.
GG: What has Sony India planned for the development of Games in India. Is it going to support budding game development houses over here?
AB: Yes indeed! We are going to fully support Indian Game Developers. We are hell bent on providing these developers with tools and softwares that they need to make games. Everyone wants to outsource game development to India and we are determined to fulfill that desire. One of the many game developers that we have teamed up in India includes Trine Studios who are also going to release their Streets of Mumbai game for the PlayStation 2. Infact, in the next two years or so we can expect an IP game from India for a world wide audience. India has everything needed for Game Development. For Animation, the industry is booming at a rapid rate; for IT, I don’t even think that I need to give an explanation; for story, who can even compete with our Bollywood stories. We have all the elements to produce an IP that the world will notice, it just needs entrepreneurial activity.
GG: Is Sony moving towards Casual games and looking at promotions everywhere. Also it seems that Sony is determined at promoting the PlayStation 2 for now instead of the PlayStation 3?
AB: PlayStation 2 is in a very affordable price range today and is the best entry level console in India. We want to set user bases who are actively involved in gaming. We can’t take God of War and just present it in front of someone and expect him to get right away into gaming. With our localized content like SingStar Bollywood and Buzz we are aiming at setting a user base and getting more people involved. We are having these continuous events of SingStar in various clubs across India and these are the same people who will with time move from casual gaming to hardcore gaming. Even I started gaming casually and then with time moved on to serious games.
GG: What about your hardcore gamers? How are you looking into satisfying their needs related to Gaming?
AB: God of War and GT5 were a good start. In the future, we plan to release every game made under the Sony or EA banner almost simultaneously with the European launch. We are in talks with Activision too who is now considering India as an important market and soon enough we will see Activision titles releasing with their European counterparts. We, in no way are discriminating between the hardcore gamers and the casual gamers. We are and will give importance to everyone.
GG: It was reported that Sony initially brought in just 1000 PS3’s to India. So far, how do you rate the improvement in sales? What about providing games to cities other than the metropolitan cities?
AB: That was the number when we launched the PS3 in India. We had small amount of retail outlets distributing the PlayStation 3 and most of these were official Sony Outlets. Today, we have more than 1000 retail outlets and still growing. The sales of the PlayStation 3and PlayStation Portable have been phenomenon. Many stores are reporting “stockouts”. We expect the same growth trend to continue in the future also. Our aim has been to provide games for anyone and everyone who needs them. We have taken great pains to ensure that no city is ignored. Our friends at Milestone Interactive have taken great pains to research the cities and make sure they have the supply of games to fulfill their needs. Also, in the end the perception of the retail owner about the selling prospects of the Games matters to a great extent.
GG: Can we expect a simultaneous launch of Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 along with the European release date as well? These are system sellers and just like God of War, need no introduction. Also, can we expect the special MGS Bundle for PS3?
Ans. That is highly unlikely that we will be able to have a simultaneous launch date. India has no distributors who are actively in contact with Rockstar or Konami. The fact to know is, these are AAA titles and the demand is going to be huge. In the beginning, these companies might ignore India all together because of the demand in other countries. However, after a while though we can expect a release date. As for the MGS Bundle or any other bundle, we will give a thought to it and prepare an appropriate business model before we advertise it.
All said and done, Sony India plans to take one step at a time and give the Indians what they demand. We wish them best of luck and offer our support in promoting Games in India.