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'India is important enough to get game launches on Day 1'

July 1, 2008

Sony has gone from strength to strength in its Indian gaming foray, and hopes to see three or four-fold growth in its sales figures over last year.

Following the March releases of God of War: Chains of Olympus and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Sameer Desai caught up with Atindriya Bose, country manager of Sony Computer Entertainment India, to discuss what's in store for PlayStation fans for the rest of 2008. And also about Sony's close association with Indian game developers; a new Hanuman game headed to the PlayStation 2; and whether rising inflation will affect the price of games and PlayStation consoles.

The last time we spoke, I had asked you about the price difference in games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Metal Gear Solid 4 was recently released in India at an MRP of Rs 3,500. Isn't there any way Sony can limit the pricing of PlayStation 3 games? It's getting a little out of hand.

We have created our own price structure -- Rs 1,799, Rs 2,499 and Rs 2,799. EA is also following a similar structure. Together, this caters to 70 to 80 per cent of the market. The third parties take our advice when appointing distributors and talk to us about market size and pricing strategies. So I can play an advisory role with regards to what volumes they can expect at certain price points.

Eventually, it is up to them to bring the product at their price. For the PlayStation 2, we have made a substantial investment and we have local replication for PlayStation 2 games. For anyone who is going to use the local replication, we put a ceiling on what the pricing should be.

There has been quite a lot of anger towards certain third party distributors who are pricing PlayStation 3 games so high. It actually costs less to buy these games from the grey market.

I have noticed that and I had a discussion with E-Xpress Interactive when Grand Theft Auto 4 released.

However, I cannot enforce a diktat. From our side, we know what prices are applicable for the Indian market. I was part of a third party publishers' conference in London focussing on distributor markets in India, Russia and Poland. We spoke to the different third party management groups, where this point did come up. There are different price points in different markets and you can only breach that price point to a certain extent. Ultimately, though, the final call has to be of that company.

The highest price for PlayStation 3 games is usually Rs 2,799, but Metal Gear Solid 4 is priced at Rs 3,499.

This is a situation where they are pricing themselves out. Rs 2,799 is the ideal price, even Rs 3,000 is alright for a good title. So we talk to them and these are the things we communicate to them, but the decision is theirs. Once the market grows, all these things will get stabilised.

We had spoken about Sony working with Indian game developers. Soon after that, Sony announced a tie-up with 13 Indian developers. How is this progressing?

We had a developers' conference in India. There were 50 developers present, out of which, we picked 13. We are in different levels of talks for different projects and many of these developers have been given development kits based on the merit of the project.

Are there any projects from these developers that you can talk about?

Most projects are in very early stages so we can't talk about that. The one we are definitely talking about is our tie-up with Aurona Technologies for a game based on Hanuman. Once thing to keep in mind is this is not a cartoon-ish kids' game. It will be a serious game with high production values. This will be on the PlayStation 2.

Will these games be sold in India only?

We are targetting the Indian Diaspora initially. Sony is open to allowing these developers to approach other publishers, but if Sony is publishing the game, we will have the rights to take it to other regions. And our feeling is that, with time, many Indian games can and will have global appeal.

Image: The Sony PlayStation 3 console. Inset image: Atindriya Bose, country manager of Sony Computer Entertainment India.
Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

Also see: Gaming: Grand Theft Auto IV rocks!

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