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Sony details NGP strategies at private UK event

Fri 04 Feb 2011 1:19pm GMT / 8:19am EST / 5:19am PST
HardwarePublishingDevelopment

"Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for for years"

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

During a presentation to around 20 UK developers at its headquarters in London yesterday, Sony shared a wide range of information about its new handheld platform, revealing significant new details on launch plans, hardware specifications, networking features and more.

One attendee, speaking to our sister site Eurogamer.net this morning under condition of anonymity, said: "NGP is a developer's dream Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for for years".

Studios had been expecting to collect development kits at the event, but were told "late shipments from Japan" meant SCEE would now be "prioritising". According to the source, for a kit to be delivered before April a studio must supply a "20-page concept document on a game they want to release at launch".

Eurogamer understands that key UK studios have had early kits for almost a year. But the source claimed the new shipment of kits would be "the first to have the final GPU in them".

Sony has not yet dated the system beyond plans to begin rollout worldwide by the end of 2011. But during yesterday's presentation, Sony listed the wi-fi only edition of NGP as "2011", while the wi-fi plus 3G version was listed as "Holiday Season 2011", implying that the 3G-enabled console would not be available day one.

SCEE did not share any solid information on date or price, only adding that details would be revealed "very soon".

Sony staff demoed a handful of upcoming first-party NGP titles, including Uncharted, Little Deviants and WipEout. The source said the latter was "the WipEout HD PS3 engine running on PS3 with no changes to the art platform. That means full resolution, full 60fps. It looks exactly the same as it does on PS3 all the shader effects are in there".

With Sony urging developers to create releases that work across PS3 and NGP, the implications of this are significant. "They want us to do cross-platform," said the source, explaining that the submission process has been streamlined, with only a single submission required for a title on PSN and NGP.

And developers were told: "All games at launch available on flash [the physical storage medium] would also be on PSN."

However, Sony is also insisting that it "does not want exactly the same game" on NGP and PS3 there "has to be a reason for the NGP title". "They want at least some kind of interactivity between the two versions with NGP-only extras," the source added.

The rumoured addition of 'cloud saving' seen as key for enabling gamers to switch easily between a game on PS3 and NGP was raised by developers, but SCEE would not officially confirm it.

The publisher also moved to reassure developers that the technical hurdles of cross-platform development were being kept as low as possible.

"Any shaders for PS3 stuff will just work," said the source. "We won't have to rewrite. What would have taken two-to-three months before looks like it could take just one-to-two weeks now. The architecture is obviously different, but it's the same development environment".

Elsewhere with the hardware, it was confirmed that NGP features three gyroscopes, compared with one in PS3's controller, allowing for more accurate movement. And the front and rear touch panels are both capable of six-point multi-touch.

"The touch pad on the back is fantastic," the source said. "It does feel second nature, like you're having a real impact on the world". As an example of the potential, SCEE described squeezing an object in-game by pinching the front and the back simultaneously.

SCEE further outlined its vision for the first five years of the platform and its target audience, with year one focused on "hardcore" and year two on "hardcore and teens", with the expectation that the audience will expand younger and older after that.

Social networking and location-based features were also highlighted for their gaming potential. SCEE suggested, for instance, that "clues could be put on the social networking side" that could lead to "virtual gifts", that could in turn make use of the camera and augmented reality capabilities to distribute "new skins and avatars".

"Sony has made it completely developer-centric this time," the source added. "[the development kit] is really simple to plug in and use. It opens direct in Windows Explorer and you can see all systems on a network so you could, for example, update the firmware of multiple NGPs at once.

"A PS3 dev station can take three hours to set-up. This looks like it will take under 20 mins. It just makes everything easier they've really thought about it this time".

16 Comments

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Sounds pretty exciting. However, does Sony really expect titles to go into development now and be ready for a launch later this year? Unless they're hoping for ports, that doesn't leave a great deal of time given today's typical development cycles. Further, I'm not sure the platform needs an onus on ports of PS3 games, as I felt this was one of the things PSP did wrong and the DS did right - handhelds should adhere to their portable design, not try to ape the nature of home consoles.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Private Industry

1,176 182 0.2
"Eurogamer understands that key UK studios have had early kits for almost a year. But the source claimed the new shipment of kits would be "the first to have the final GPU in them". "

That should give them enough time.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Keith Andrew Editor, PocketGamer.biz, Pocket Gamer

31 28 0.9
It might be developer centric, but it's certainly not consumer centric.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Private Industry

1,176 182 0.2
Care to explain? :)

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Gabby Behrmann Studying Business/Marketing, University of Nevada

1 0 0.0
I'm assuming he is referring to the price tag.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
"SCEE did not share any solid information on date or price, only adding that details would be revealed "very soon"."

Does that "very soon" imply before E3 2011? I sure hope so!

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Benjamin Dixon Studying Computer Games Design and Programming, Staffordshire University

20 0 0.0
I've been thinking that they would announce pricing at E3. I would gladly know before hand though.I'm still on the fence about whether I will be getting this or sticking to my iPhone for the small amount of portable gaming I do

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Private Industry

1,176 182 0.2
If the price is near the 3DS I would announce it just a few weeks before the 3DS launch, than again I don`t run a multi billion company :D

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Robert Kelly

38 0 0.0
Yeah something to pull the rug out from Nintendo.

Posted:3 years ago

#9
I totally agree with Keith!
Robert Kelly Nintendo will not have the "rug" pulled from under them. As far as consumers are concerned, NGP is a smaller PS3, so what would be the point in purchasing it? and also 3DS has already impressed consumers developers alike, for NGP to have impressed developers alone means nothing. I mean, surely some consumers would buy the NGP because it is basically a smaller PS3, but, due to all the capabilities the NGP supposed;y has, it will not come cheap, if it is a similar to PS3 then many consumers may be discouraged form buying by reasoning that it would be a wast of money,because they can purchase apS3 for a similar price and not feel like they are missing out on anything.

Also developers may have to decide whether to make games for NGP or PS3, because to make it on both would be pointless and time consuming, due them being so similar.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Junior Enwright on 5th February 2011 8:56pm

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Private Industry

1,176 182 0.2
That depends on the what consumer you ask. I`m sure the more mainstream consumers are fine with the 3DS hardware. I was looking forward to it when they announce the games lineup at the TGS and with each new announcement I was looking less forward to it. The big games list turned into a list with 20 games that come out in the launch window with many N64 ports and those are probably even sold at full price.

On the other hand there is the NGP with up to date hardware and promised games such as WipEout, Uncharted, Killzone and so on. As a core gamer that is a lot more appealing to me than what the 3DS has shown and if I would need to choose between one of them I would go with the NGP since the only thing 3DS can do and NGP can`t is 3D and while the extra dimension looks nice it`s nothing that changes the gameplay.

I don`t think consumers are worried about it being to similar to the PS3, your average mainstream person isn`t going to buy it anyway because it`s to complicated has to many functions and so on. But that`s not the audience, those people are happy with their apps on their phones they play 5 minutes a day. Sony is targeting the audience that bought a PSP or plays on 360 or PS3.

You don`t need to make exactly the same games for both system, you can still make your main game on the PS3 and an off spin on the NGP and that shouldn`t even be that time consuming since it looks like porting the engine and assets over to the NGP is rather easy and fast and for an off spin you can still use a lot of assets of the main game. EA didn`t announce anything yet, but let`s as example FIFA. You could make a FIFA game for both platforms that look more or less the same, but add the feature that you can use your PS3 save on the NGP. You could do all your team managment on the road and maybe play a few games get home and transfer it back. Besides you can do all the games you make for the DS for the NGP just even better due to better graphic and better touch screen. You can port all your iPhone and Android games over without the need to scale back the graphics or change the controls. That both have similar graphic capabilities doesn`t mean anything, enough people have a PS3 and 360 while they have for the most part similar graphics.

Obviously the NGP isn`t going to beat the 3DS since Nintendo showed already with the Wii that they can sell far inferior hardware way better than the other companies great hardware. But Sony said they are happy if they sell at least the same amount as PSP`s

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Robert Kelly

38 0 0.0
@Junior Enwright

I was agreeing with Werner Nemetz as far as price is concerned and that a low price would offset the balance for Nintendo.

As for it being a "portable PS3" and that not interesting consumers I feel your wrong. The market that Sony is targeting it the very hardcore, just like the old PSP and that they will be attracted/excited by this type of news. As for price, no one has any indication of what it would cost. i'm personally hoping for $250 -> $300 and that maybe Sony will take a hit on the price as they did with PS3 (maybe being lower this time).

Saying that no one will make games for both PS3 and PSP2/NGP is contradicted in the actual article which states that it's very easy to port over and that possible cross platform play will be there.

But of course that's just my opinion :)

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Zan Toplisek

44 16 0.4
I totally agree with Werner, he said it all.

Posted:3 years ago

#13
Umm... if this is truly capable of running PS3 level titles, wouldn't it have to be more expensive than a PS3 currently is (given it also has a HD screen, touch screens, gyroscopes) - it doesn't have a BluRay drive though. PS3s are still $500 here (Australia), could Sony launch this for $500-$600AU? (I'm expecting the 3DS to launch for $350 by comparison).

Also - BluRay games go up to 20GB. I would be surprised if the maximum size limit for the NGP games would exceed 4GB (at launch), which is still huge (almost single-sided DVD).

Anyway, it sounds interesting - I got keen the second I heard it didn't have a physical/disc drive.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
I thought it did have a physical (flash based) drive. I was under the impression this was for games, not just memory extension.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Private Industry

1,176 182 0.2
The games can be downloaded or bought on some sort of flash memory so there is still a physical medium.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 7th February 2011 7:44pm

Posted:3 years ago

#16

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