Interview: Cristian Cardona

Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Cristian Cardona, Associate Product Manager of Software Marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA). We often hear a lot from the many faces of the game industry, and their positions – be it a Programmer, Producer, Designer or Director, to name a few. Marketing isn’t a career that readily comes to mind to the average person wanting to “break into the industry,” So I’d like to shed some light on another perspective we don’t hear much about.

1. What could you tell me about your position? What are your duties?

Sure! I’m an Associate Product Marketing Manager for SCEA. I think the best way of describing us is as the hub of the marketing wheel. We develop strategies for marketing products to casual and hardcore consumers, facilitate communication between the various departments in the company and serve as the point of contact for anyone who’s looking for information on the product that we’re assigned to. In my case, being an associate also gives me the added responsibility of providing support to management on any additional projects within the company. There’s plenty more around that, but I think that sums it up. Kind of.

2. How long have you been working at Sony? How did you land it? Does it require a certain degree or training?

I’ve been at SCEA for almost 6 years now. I landed my first position here after meeting a PlayStation rep who was responsible for visits to the Best Buy where I was working at after college. A few months after meeting her, I finally had the nerve to ask her if PlayStation was hiring and she happily pointed me to a merchandising position originating from the corporate office here in Foster City. After a few nerve-wracking interviews, I found myself working as a Merchandising Account Representative, following up on company initiatives and representing SCEA products at the retail level. After a short time, I applied for a position as a Product Marketing Specialist and worked my way up to Associate Product Marketing Manager.

As far as each position requiring a specific degree or training, I think it’s a yes and no kind of answer. “Yes” in the sense that every position has a specific set of traits the hiring group is looking for. “No” in the sense that while you may not have all those traits, you may have other strengths that may qualify you instead. For myself it was a mixture of enthusiasm, industry knowledge and business sense (as well as a college degree) that helped me move into each of the positions I’ve worked. It also helped to have several years of retail experience, as it brought some additional perspective when working with retailers and groups internally.

3. What’s your favorite game, and why?

I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite. Some games have very specific memories or moments of my life attached to them so the way I see them is a little different than just, “That one was the best ever”. I can honestly say, however, that I love RPGs of all kinds. I play plenty of other genres, too.

4. Have you made a major accomplishment working for Sony?

I think being able to start off at an entry level position and work my way up in this company has been a major personal accomplishment. A lot of people don’t get that sort of opportunities or hit walls. I’m grateful enough to have had the chances to prove myself here. Another major accomplishment for me (geeking out here) was getting my name in the credits for the first time. It was on Resistance: Fall of Man and I can’t tell you how stoked I was over that! I still have the game wrapped and on a stand at my house.

5. What games have you worked on? Do you have a favorite?

I’ve been involved in or directly responsible for the marketing of the following titles (sounds so resume-like, ha!)

Resistance: Fall of Man
Resistance 2
Resistance: Retribution

Heavy Rain
White Knight Chronicles International Edition
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction
Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
Secret Agent Clank

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

I have a special thanks in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, for some help I did there….and that’s about all I can reveal, hehe. As far as a favorite? I can’t say I have one. I love working with the teams associated with these titles and each one of them has had something new to teach me. Neutral response, I know, but it’s true!

6. What is the average salary for someone who works in your field? How viable is the job market for them?

I think the average salary question can be answered through some online research. In fact, I just saw I articles on Joystiq and Kotaku talking about this. I don’t really have an average number since we don’t run around telling each other what we make around here. As far as viability, it all depends on the publisher or developer you want to work for. The gaming industry is strong, so there’s a lot of opportunity, but the current state of things has positions filling up fast so you’ve just got to stay on your toes and keep an eye out.

7. On average, how many games do you work on a year?

On average, I’m assigned 2 to 4 titles a year, but work on a few more here and there. We help each other out here, so sometimes we cover off on someone else’s title at consumer or retail events, or assist with someone else’s project if they’re traveling on business, etc.

8. What advice do you have to give to someone who would like to break into the videogame industry?

I think the advice you hear everywhere is pretty spot on. Find what you like with a passion, focus on it and do what it takes to get your foot in the door. If you’re the sort of person who thinks a task or job is beneath you, don’t expect to stick around for long. Networking is important, as is actively seeking opportunities to get experience, even if it’s a temp position. Taking initiative is important. Sprinkle that with some luck and I think you’re set.

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