MCV Pacific spoke with Dave Hine, the sales and marketing director at Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand, on PlayStation’s year, and its plans to grow the business in 2012-13.
PlayStation 3 enjoyed the largest share of the console market in calendar 2011. While Sony’s console has conceded leading market share to Xbox 360 in the past five months, Hine states that the difference is small, approximately 500 units.
Hine told MCV: “We really haven’t started hitting the straps of retail. I guess the big question will be over the school holidays, the June-July period, and we’ll see how we go there."
Unique factors in the New Zealand market also mean that while the industry is competitive, it is less so than otherwise comparable markets: "When you look at the value of the New Zealand gaming industry versus that of Australia, it doesn’t equate to the population proportion. I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. One of them is that we don’t have a Nintendo factor as much in New Zealand. For some reason they haven’t fired here or given it as much focus. Maybe that will change with Wii U, but we’ve yet to see that."
"Also, New Zealand has more independent third-party distributors, the likes of Ben [Ward] and Ant [Ward] at [distributors such as] FivEight, and Total Interactive, and what have you, and they tend to approach a business, or the promotion of their games a lot different to a first-party."
There’s also work to be done following the launch of the PlayStation Vita in February this year, says Hine: "The games that we’ve got are good. Having Uncharted there as a launch title was absolutely needed, and then the likes of Assassin’s and Call of Duty going into Christmas is going to be a big boost to that."
In-store promotion will be key to growing the Vita’s New Zealand install base, believes Hine: “Putting the console in people’s hands in the biggest thing. Really the biggest challenge is to get people to sample it. Once they’ve sampled it – pretty much sold."
Additionally, Hine suggests that while core gamers will remain a focus for early adoption of the Vita in New Zealand, PlayStation will also begin to broaden the demographics it's targeting: "We targeted core gamers; we’ll continue to target core gamers. There’s a lot of work to do there still. We’ll open it up a little bit more to maybe the teens and what have you, but it’s early days."
As to the future of the New Zealand market, Hine believes the adoption rate of digital purchases will be lower than many pundits claim: "When thinking about digital, cloud gaming, packaged goods: the rate of uptake on the online side of things is there. Will it absolutely skyrocket? I don’t think so. First, we need Ultrafast broadband to roll out for that to happen. I’ve seen commentators think that around 10 to 15 per cent is about where the online market will be [in five years], but that depends on what they mean by the online market."
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