Sony Computer Entertainment America boss Kaz Hirai has dismissed claims that Xbox 360's significant headstart on the PlayStation 3 will give it a serious advantage in the console battle, arguing that content is far more important.
Speaking in an interview with Official PlayStation Magazine in the USA, Hirai pointed out that Sony has never been first to market with any of its consoles - the PlayStation being preceded by the Saturn, and the PlayStation 2 by the Dreamcast.
"People, especially people up north on the West Coast, seem to put a lot of credence on being out before the other consoles," he said, in a clear reference to Seattle-based Microsoft's oft-repeated view that PS2's headstart over the Xbox gave it an unassailable advantage.
"If you take a look at when our competitors came out in the market, we had upward of 3 to 5 million PS2 units when our competitors came out with a platform," he continued. "Consumers adopted our platform because [they like our content] and not because we were first to market."
"First to market, from what we can tell, has never been an advantage," he concluded.
Hirai went on to argue that the availability of a complete PlayStation family of products - encompassing both the hugely successful PlayStation 2 and the handheld PlayStation Portable consoles as well as the next-generation PlayStation 3 - would seriously bolster the company's position in the market.
He also downplayed talk over the technical advantage being on PlayStation 3's side - while being careful to indicate that he believes this to be true.
"The technological advantage is almost a given," he said, "but by itself, it doesn't mean very much. What kind of software do you have to help drive that technological innovation? We've proven over the past 10 years with three products that we can deliver, whether it's first-party of third-party support."
One other topic of interest touched upon in OPM's interview is the question of the PlayStation 3 controller - a prototype for which was shown off at E3, to a highly mixed response, with some commentators ridiculing the "boomerang" shape of the controller and calling for a return to the popular Dual Shock design.
"We've gone through two consoles with essentially the same controller design, and it's time for a fresh approach," Hirai commented. "We're going to look at the form factor, but at the same time we want it to feel familiar. It's difficult to balance the two. It's a work in progress. We certainly want to make sure that when you hold it in your hands that you've come home to something familiar."
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