The Playstation and Me: Evan Wells, Part 3

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Previous parts: The Playstation and Me: Evan Wells, Part 1, The Playstation and Me: Evan Wells, Part 2

Evan Wells from Naughty Dog talks about where he thinks Sony went wrong with the Playstation 2 and Playstation 3-as well as his own initial skepticism to 3D game development–in the last part of my interview with him.

Are there specific parts of the gamemaking process with Sony that you appreciated a lot? Like, situations where they gave you more time when you needed it? Or the development resources? Can you talk a little bit about how your partnership with Sony has made making games easier?

On one big important way is that they’ve just got such a great stable of developers. I mean in between Guerilla and Media Molecule and Sony Santa Monica. Although they’re not first party, Insomniac’s in there, too. These are some of the best developers out there. And to have them just a phone call away. If you need something from Sony Santa Monica, literally they’re just right across the street from us.

We do a lot of collaboration in terms of sharing ideas, and philosophies, and production techniques. It’s just really unbelievably valuable to a game developer, just to see how somebody else does it, because there isn’t just one right way to do it. And our industry is so young and we are moving so fast, things just change so rapidly, it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off of somebody else and see how they do it. And just to be able to have access and close relationships with these other top developers in the world, has really, really helped our development.

Aside from the guys you just mentioned who are all kind of the top shelf of Playstation developers, what are the other games that have stood out for you throughout the life cycle of the whole brand. Going back to PS1 to PS2 into the present day?

OK. PS1 and 2. Obviously Team Ico is amazing. Love those guys. Love those games. Super inspiring. Very similar to the storytelling genre that we find ourselves in. Obviously, Grand Theft Auto changed the industry. Sort of pointed out in a really loud way that games aren’t just for kids and that there’s a huge market for adults playing games that want content that speaks to them. So that really shook things up.

Coming much closer to modern day, Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare series is amazing. And just the way they tackled the scripted experience and the way they had nailed the spectacle to a degree that no other game had, that has been really inspiring to us. And then of course what they’ve done with it online, it’s just crazy.

Yeah. It’s pretty amazing. I’m not a Call of Duty guy, but I went out to LA for the multiplayer Black Ops event. It’s not Infinity Ward, obviously, but Treyarch is bringing some really strong ideas to the fore. They’re building off of what I think Infinity Ward did in terms of like this kind of open, almost MMO-style progression system that kind of makes its own gravy. The online thing reminds me of another question: What have you felt were missteps with the Playstation that Sony could have avoided? I mean, hindsight is 20/20, but, to me, the big standout is taking so long to get the PS2 online.

Oh yeah! Just as you were asking the question, that was the very first thing that pops in my mind. Yeah, having that be an accessory that not everybody ends up buying into I think definitely put Sony behind on getting games online and building the Playstation Network platform. Xbox Live definitely had a couple of years’ headstart on Sony. Time has shown that it’s only continuing to become a more and more important aspect of the way gamers experience their games. So yes, I would absolutely concur that was an issue.

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