Those of you with strong memories may recall Sony overlord Kaz Hirai insinuating in a newspaper interview that it would allow Microsoft to announce its next-gen console first – only to tease its PlayStation Meeting press conference a few days later. Speculation suggests that this caught its competitor by surprise, and by the time that it got around to its own unveiling, the PlayStation 4 had been in the consciousness of consumers for a fair few months. This was all intentional, according to group gaffer Andrew House.
“I think that we were probably earlier to announce than we have been previously, and that was very deliberate," he said at Develop 2014 in Brighton earlier today. "I wanted to be out there first with the first announcement for this generation so that you've got an opportunity to stake the ground and hopefully take something of a leadership position. Again, we'd had the experience of launching later than our competitor, and that played very heavily on many of the thought processes and decisions [that we] made with the PS4.”
In fact, the announcement was so early that the platform holder was panned for not showing the design of the console itself. Some suggested that the Japanese giant held the box back in order to save some ammunition for the Xbox One’s inevitable unveiling – but the reality is that the firm didn’t expect a backlash in the first place. “This is one where I think that honestly we were a little caught off guard and wrong-footed,” House admitted. “If you look back at our history of previous reveals, we generally always went with explaining what the concept would be, articulating what package the overall consumer experience was going to be, and then later revealing the hardware. So this felt very natural and normal to us.”
Unsurprisingly, the console’s chassis was the source of much deliberation behind the scenes. House initially wasn’t happy with the designs that were being dreamed up, and so he sent his team back to the drawing board. Five further sketches were produced, which he narrowed down to two. Unable to decide between them, he ordered two mock-ups to be made, which he kept on his desk for a week, quizzing various other employees on their thoughts. The familiar parallelogram design ultimately won the unofficial poll, but the affable executive adopted a fairly straightforward philosophy to pick his personal favourite. “My benchmark at the end of the day was [...] what would I be proudest holding [on stage at E3]?" he concluded. Good pick, Andy – good pick.