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NCsoft's Robert Garriott Details New Sony Partnership

NCsoft CEO Robert Garriott has elaborated on NCsoft's recent agreement with Sony, discussing the plan to develop for the PlayStation 3 and expand the company's portfolio beyond massively multiplayer PC titles - and suggesting that the first such products
In a statement on the official NCsoft website, CEO Robert Garriott offered details about the company's recently-announced new relationship with Sony, describing the deal as one which "gives us an unprecedented opportunity to bring our online portfolio of games to a suite of highly popular console gaming systems, including the PlayStation 3." Acknowledging that many in the industry and the press have asked for further articulation on the partnership and for information on the direction of future titles, Garriott issued the statement in an effort to outline NCsoft's vision for their products in the coming years. "It has been one of our business strategies to bring customers to a catalog of games where the customer has the choice to play a variety of different products. However, we don’t want to limit ourselves to the PC, especially while the console market continues to grow by leaps and bounds with every new generation...and console makers want to get into the online space," he said. "The ideal system would be an extremely capable, stable platform, with the best Internet connectivity and greatest freedom of web access and interaction available to the user... we felt like Sony fit the bill," he continued, adding that Sony's vision going forward complements NCsoft's strategy. Nonetheless, he also stated that NCsoft is "far from" plans to stop developing on the PC. Garriott says the relationship with Sony will allow NCsoft to develop across all of Sony's console hardware platforms, though he specified the PS3 is the focus, "and perhaps the PSP." The crux of the statement was the expression of a desire to build NCsoft's catalog beyond PC MMO titles. While Garriott says future titles to come are still under wraps, he added, "We are hoping, but can’t promise, to have the first of our products available for the holiday season in 2008." He acknowledged that this is a short time frame, but stressed, "We won’t just be porting our games over to the PS3," stating the aim of making new products from current IPs that will take advantage of the PS3's user interface, connectivity and play styles. He admitted, though, that this "tends to take a lot longer" than a simple port. Garriott added that NCsoft is also looking at new and original IPs specifically for the console, specifying that that particular process "will take two to three years at a minimum." The new console games will be developed via the same distributed model of development currently used for NCsoft's PC titles, Garriott said, though he noted that the idea of starting a new console-specific studio outside of Austin is under consideration, even as the company also looks to other existing studios to house specific projects. "This includes our Austin offices or our other currently existing studios. Console game development won’t just be at one single location," he explained. The anticipated Sony products will continue to utilize a range of NCsoft's current business model. "There will be the traditional subscription models, micropayment systems and free-to-play games with membership options," Garriott said. Promising more info to come, he concluded, "It's an exhilarating time for NCsoft."

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