Interview: GamingIndians vs SCE India's Atindriya Bose
At PlayStation Experience 2008, it was time for Round 3 of GamingIndians vs Atindriya Bose, Country Manager of Sony Computer Entertainment India.
This time around, he sheds some light on the new 80GB PlayStation 3 set to hit stores in December, the post warranty situation for the PS3, the long-awaited PSN launch, and news of Activision moving its PS2 game manufacturing to India.
To quote: GamingIndians: Can you tell me a bit about Sony's policy towards post-warranty PlayStation 3s?
Atindriya Bose: Currently, we are giving you a new console at 50 per cent discount in case something goes wrong with your console after warranty has expired.
GamingIndians: Won't there be a service facility?
Atindriya Bose: Not on an immediate basis. I think currently we are just touching figures of 20,000 with the PS3. Both the PS3 and PSP have quite complex service requirements, but at the moment, the PSP numbers allow us to go ahead and think about setting up a service centre in India.
The process of changing the Blu-Ray drive is a very complex one and the Blu-Ray drive error is the most common issue we have faced. So right now, offering this replacement is a more cost-effective strategy.
But surely at some point in time, these numbers will grow to the current PS2 numbers, and there will be nothing stopping us from setting up servicing here. For the PS2 and PSP, we are in the process of setting up service facilities here.
GamingIndians: Until these facilities are set up, what is the current policy for post-warranty PS2s and PSPs?
Atindriya Bose: The policy is the same as for the PS3, but we are in the process of setting up servicing here, and that should happen in the next financial year.
GamingIndians: Does this PS3 policy cover grey market PS3s or only those that are officially purchased here?
Atindriya Bose: It will cover any PS3 sold in a PAL territory. It has to be a PAL console.
GamingIndians: So is there any support for someone who has an NTSC console?
Atindriya Bose: No; none whatsoever. We can't even take them and send them back, because those won't be recognised as Indian PS3s. It's outside the company's global philosophy to provide support for NTSC consoles in PAL territories. Also, those purchasing grey market PS3s will be losing out on warranty completely.
GamingIndians: You've announced that you'll be replacing the 40GB PS3 with the 80GB SKU. Will there be any price difference between the two?
Atindriya Bose: As of now, we are debating that. The pressure that is coming is from the exchange fluctuation. We want to keep it at the same price, but we may have to push it up a bit.
GamingIndians: Can you give me an estimate of how much more someone waiting for the 80GB PS3 might have to pay?
Atindriya Bose: Rs 2,000 is the maximum possible increase.
GamingIndians: You had mentioned a while back that you were in talks with Activision to have their PS2 games manufactured in India. Has there been any progress on that?
Atindriya Bose: Activision have transferred all their assets here. They have done the transfers, their costing is ready, and the distributor is ready as well. Again, they are also a little confused with the Dollar fluctuating between Rs 47 and Rs 49. They need to figure out at what price they can start a plausible operation.
So all the transfers are done and they have also obtained a special sanction to maintain the mid-range pricing of Rs 699. So they're pretty much ready at their end, but I think the Activision-Vivendi deal had also put this on hold to an extent.
GamingIndians: Currently, Activision games are distributed here by Worldwide CD ROM. So with this going through, will these PS2 games come through Sony or WWCDROM?
Atindriya Bose: They will continue with WWCDROM. Third parties have the right to select their own distributors.
GamingIndians: Every time I talk to you, I ask you this question and I'm going to ask you again - When does India get PSN?
Atindriya Bose: India is now in the top 5 list of PSN Stores being created and integrated. When I last spoke to the person in charge, I was told that India would get PSN in this fiscal (by March 31, 2009). That looks like a plausible date and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
GamingIndians: Will there be a PSN card system for India or will buyers have to rely solely on credit cards? Do you think the prepaid card system will work?
Atindriya Bose: You tell me.
GamingIndians: I think the card system would work pretty well because many people are still paranoid about using their credit cards online.
Atindriya Bose: I have my doubts. Regular gamers will get their content either way; whether it's by prepaid card or credit card. But pushing the prepaid card system to the general population and the distribution of it can be hectic.
Even Zapak is pushing that system but I don't know to what extent that will work. The micro-transaction system that works in east Asia may not work here. So we will need to evaluate whether we really want to get into that level of complexity.