Interview with Butch Freedhoff at the E3 2000 in Los Angeles

Saturday, May 13th, 2000



This year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, the major attraction was the announcement of when the PlayStation 2 would be launched in North America and what the price would be for it in the US and Canadian markets.

On Monday, September 13th, 1999, Sony Computer Entertainment of America had a 2 hours teleconference from Tokyo to officially announce the Playstation 2. They said that it would be launched in Japan in March and that no information would be released for the North American market until May 2000 at this year's E3. Well they kept their word, no other facts were released. Though many speculated on the price and date, no one really knew until now.

Sony announced at the start of the show on Thursday that the PlayStation 2 would be released on Thursday, October 26th, 2000, at the price of $299 US and $449 CAN.

Sitting now at their VIP Booth, enjoying a cold beer with Butch Freedhoff, the General Manager of Playstation of Canada, who was kind enough to take the time to expand on the announcement for us.





Everyone I have talked to today is excited about the launch of the PlayStation 2. I just came back from Electronic Arts and they just showed me their new games for the PlayStation 2 and they are very excited as well.

LD - So, you must be quite pleased about the success so far in Japan with the PlayStation 2?

Butch - Yes we are, in the opening weekend of the Japanese launch 980,000 Playstation 2 were sold which makes it about 10 times more than what the original sales were for the PlayStation 1 for the first 3 days. To be a bit more specific 600,000 units were sold through 26,400 retailers and 380,000 units were sold through our own website, showing that e-commerce is getting stronger and more accepted.

LD - How many have you sold so far?

Butch - the last numbers for Japan are 1.8 Million for the PlayStation 2 and more then 2.9 million games have been sold so far.

LD - How many consoles are you planning to bring to the North American market?

Butch - Concerning the American Market we going to have 1 million units and of course Canada will have its fair share of those.

LD - How many games are in the works right now?

Butch - Presently 208 publishers and developers have signed license agreements and are presently  in the process of developing 270 titles.

LD - How many games do you expect to have at the launch?

Butch - Since we are building on the success on the PlayStation, all 800 games already available on the market will be playable on the PlayStation 2 since it is backwards compatible. Concerning new games, about 9 first party titles will be available, and between first and third parties about 50 before Christmas time, and 150 titles are expected to be out by the end of March, but the specific number is still not known because it depends on which titles will be ready at the launch. We care more about the quality of the games that we are putting out, instead of the quantity, and in any case they will all sell no matter which titles are available then.

LD - Microsoft will enter the video game market next year with their new console the X-Box which will be more powerful than even the PlayStation 2, so what is your long term strategy towards that?

Butch - Our strategy is to keep on doing what we have been doing, which is backing our console with games. It has been shown in the past - the 3DO console was powerful, but did not last - that even if you come out with a powerful console, you must have good games for it, or it is a suicidal program that will not work . When the PlayStation 2 will be launched all the 800 games that are on the market presently will work on it. Also by the time that Microsoft launches their new console we will have sold 10 million units and between 40 - 50 million games for the PlayStation 2 while they will be just starting. 

LD - How well is the PlayStation still doing?

Butch - It is going very well we now have 60% of the console market and 70% of the games market. It is still in very high demand and stronger than ever even 5 years after its initial release. That shows we have the right business model and that we are setting the standard.

LD - What are the latest numbers for the PlayStation?

Butch - Now more then 1 in 4 American households own a PlayStation. So far more 72.92 million units have been sold throughout the world: 17.40 million in Japan, 28.41 in Europe, and 27.11 in North America. Concerning software, 630 million titles have been sold around the world, where the North American market was the strongest with 234 million units followed by 224 millions for Japan and 172 millions for the European market. It continues to exceed expectations with its software to hardware ratio of 7.9 to 1, which is  the highest in the history of all console systems. Concerning our numbers for last Christmas, in January we sold 3 million PlayStations outselling our competitors on a margin of more then 2-1. In software we sold more then 15.1 million games in December 1999 which is twice as much as Nintendo and 10 times more than Sega Dreamcast.

LD - Since it is doing so well, what are you going to do with it, are you going to kill it off slowly or keep it?

Butch - We have now 2 distinct businesses, so our new strategy is to gear up the PlayStation towards the younger crowd and the PlayStation 2 will be more like a family Entertainment Unit. With the Multi Tap Adaptor you will be able to play with up to 8 players at the same time and it also has the ability to watch movies on it. We plan to dominate the living rooms of the world with our 2 consoles.

LD - So this fall you will promote the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation as well.

Butch - Yes, we are not just promoting a few games we will have a multi-million dollar marketing campaign that will include both systems, the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2. Which will make it the largest marketing program that we have ever done. This multi-million dollar program also shows our commitment to support the livelihood of the PlayStation software. Since it can be played on both systems, that will provide a built-in market for the publishing companies.

LD - It was nice seeing you again Butch, thank you for your time, when are you coming back to see us in Montreal?

Butch - Your are quite welcome and I will see you in Montreal after the launch.

interviewer : LadyDragon




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