Ex-PlayStation US chief says Candy Crush is fun, Xbox on the right path


By Ian Sherr

A half-year after Jack Tretton stepped down as head of Sony’s PlayStation division in America, he has time to do something he didn’t have a chance to before: play Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans.

To devout PlayStation fans, this could be considered a form of treason.

When he was in his old job, he was laser-focused on Sony products, vetting games for the PlayStation and the company’s Vita handheld video game device. When he wasn’t doing that, he was checking up on what his competitors, including Microsoft and Nintendo, were up to.

Sure, he knew about games made for mobile devices, but he didn’t have the time to actually play them. Now he slings around Apple’s mobile devices, complete with the most addicting and popular titles. “While console is obviously very important and a very big part of the gaming business, it is just a part of the games business,” Trenton said in a wide-ranging interview at his office in Redwood City, Calif. Now he’s playing several mobile games, and experiencing what’s outside the console industry. “I never thought I’d be saying that even a year ago.”

In a spartan office he’s rented, Tretton is relaxed as he talks about getting back into the game, so to speak. He likes advising, and he’s been talking to experts throughout the industry. And he says he’s probably met more people in the months since he left Sony than in the past 20 years.

When he’s not doing that, though, he’s trying to beat the owl, a notoriously hard level of Candy Crush.

Dressed in a purple-shaded shirt, a sport coat and jeans, Tretton weighed in on how he sees things from the outside, the benefits of having a more female perspective in the industry and the health of game makers.

Virtual reality and the silver screen: A match made in heaven


By Ian Sherr and Shara Tibken

Virtual reality can transport you to distant space to participate in an epic starship battle, or it can drop you in the ocean, with sharks swimming all around.

But its biggest act yet may be showing you a plain old movie.

For the past two years, developers large and small have been toiling away hoping to create the app that becomes synonymous with VR and helps the technology really take off — its “killer app,” as it’s called.

That may have already happened, and it isn’t a game, a panoramic photo application or a calming simulation of a beach scene; it’s movies. As VR technology begins its march to store shelves, manufacturers like Oculus are recognizing the potential for their immersive technologies to deliver the works of Hollywood.

When Oculus first unveiled its headset two years ago, it was pitched as a next-generation video game device.  Companies such as Samsung and Sony have since joined in, funding new development for the burgeoning technology. But to make the device succeed, it needs to appeal to more than just gamers. And that’s where movies comes in.”

“The key to mainstream consumer adoption is going to be enough immersive content on a continual basis that people will be coming back for,” said Jens Christensen, head of virtual reality camera maker Jaunt. Imagine being on an airplane, staring at a movie on the screen of a tablet or on a tinier display installed in the seat in front of you, he said.

Now, consider putting on a virtual reality headset instead. “You suddenly get a 20-foot screen in front of your face–it’s a virtual screen, but it’s huge, and it’s a big difference,” he said.