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Sony targets new talent for PSP Go

Dedicated digital handheld can attract new developers as well as publishers looking to come back to PSP with online business model

Sony has said that it hopes to attract new developers to the PSP Go by drastically reducing the price of the software development kit, in an effort to bring in talent already flocking to new, cheaper opportunities such as Apple's iPhone

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, Sony Europe's new president and CEO Andrew House said the PSP Go will stand strong against handheld competition as it's one of the first dedicated games machines to embrace a purely digital format.

"On balance it was a conscious decision to think that with portable devices in particular there's a certain opportunity there to find new and different talent. And that the cost of the SDK could be a barrier to entry for that. So let's explore that, let's remove that barrier or reduce it and see if that has an effect in terms of letting us tap into a new set of talent there," offered House, in an interview published today.

"It wasn't specifically targeted towards one platform or another. Some of the other devices including the iPhone are primarily productivity devices. They have some limited form of entertainment thrown in. That's not the space that we're in. Everything about the PSP Go says it's primarily an entertainment device and a gaming device."

He added: "As we move to a network device, as we move to consumers who are very aware of downloading content and accessing that over the internet as their primary source, that leads you down the path of seeing there's other development talent out there that we could probably tap into. So let's make the SDK more affordable and let's explore it."

As well as new talent, Sony expects current publishing and development partners will reassess Sony's handheld business and come back to the PSP format.

"The publishing and development community sees us as taking something of a leadership stance by taking a bold step of introducing a portable device that has no packaged media component against it, because we think there is enough of a market there and enough of a model.

"With all due respect to publishers, I hope that's what they would expect from a platform holder to take that leadership stance and start to explore and build a market they can take advantage of."

Despite the system providing purely digital content, House said that Sony is keen to include its retail partners in the business suggesting selling pre-paid cards or vouchers in stores as one way of including traditional retail in the business, and citing Sony Online Entertainment's recent success with Free Realms as an example.

"I'm a firm believer in things like vouchers and cards at retail other ways in which you can turn essentially a relationship with a network into a sold good at retail," said House.

"It's new and different territory for us, but I think we've got a long enough history with retail partners that we've got a degree of trust there and we want them to participate. It's going to require some collaboration and promotional thinking.

"An example that looms large is Sony Online Entertainment, that has for years pursued a by and large network only model, does an enormous business in network access cards available at retail. The margin is great, the trade margin is good and everyone is happy with that," he added.

The full interview with Andrew House, where he also discusses the pricing model of the PSP Go, keeping the PSP 3000 on the market at the same time and the early product line-up for the new system, can be read here.

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Latest comments (6)

Richard Gardner Environment Artist, Ubisoft Reflections10 years ago
It would be interesting to see how sucessful there cheaper development Kit takes of, as far as I'm aware the larger XNA titles for Arcade didn't sell amazingly well, infact the 'games' sucess of the iPhone is mainly down to smaller apps. The PSP Go seems to be on the end of finished polished games which makes me think if its going to work at all from a small, cheap or app game perspective. Which looks to be why the iPhone took off.
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As a developer, the PSP is still a no-go for us. The control-set is too limited, and doesn't fit in with the sort of games we want to make. Its really anti-casual IMO.
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Roger Batchelor Consultant, gamebusinessdaily.com10 years ago
Seems to me Sony have a lot of issues to address before they start offering developers cheaper dev kits in the hope of seeing more psp titles :

- Piracy, will the new downloadable games find themselves on torrent sites and be downloaded onto older psp models that haven't been updated? What other anti piracy measures are in place to make it feasible for developers to make expensive games for this platform ?

- Price, will the new go model price offer consumers enough incentive to hand over the money or will they be better off sticking to the older umd versions and purchasing an ipod touch instead?Not to mention the fact that all older (and expensive) peripherals will not work with the new version..

- Developers - will development times be any shorter with the new model in place? And how will these times compare to a similar game for the iphone?

- Triple A titles : how will the developers get around the non inclusion of the camera stick and the new "middle left " placement of the left stick?

- Getting those pre-paid / points card out in Europe might help to speed things up a bit too!

Sorry for the rant !

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Richard Gardner Environment Artist, Ubisoft Reflections10 years ago
Just to comment on the piracy thingy Roger, I think generally speaking when looking at piracy you need to accept that it exists and always will do. Putting insane security around products will only push consumers away. In my opinion the only way to counter that is by making your products easier to get hold off and at the right price. It took the music industry long enough to see that and is still lagging behind. Just look at how sucessful it has been in both video games and television when they acted quickly and accepted it.

You also need to look at Steam, to buy a product you need to login with an account online. You need to validate your game online, with all this in place (asuming it was) I think it would be very hard to get around in a convenient manner and having fast offical downloads only a click away. I can't see why people would want to go to the trouble, especially not a casual consumer.

I can't see piracy been a problem with the PSP if Sony think smartly. As far as I'm aware you don't see much piracy on the iPhone. But I could be illinformed.
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Roger Batchelor Consultant, gamebusinessdaily.com10 years ago
I think everyone agrees piracy is here to stay,Richard. My point was that, given that the Psp hardware has been the platform most affected by piracy issues,there is a danger that if the Psp go doesn't sell enough units then all of the new software produced on 90% cheaper dev kits will end up appearing on torrent sites and downloaded onto the old and non-upgraded psp models.Sony themselves acknowledged this problem a while back saying it was a hard problem to address as the toothpaste had already left the tube? (I think that was the expression used?)

I am sure the psp go will be pretty tough to crack and comparitively piracy free but developers need more information and assurances rather than cheaper dev kits before they start committing themselves,especially with regard to the other points I mentioned above.

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Richard Gardner Environment Artist, Ubisoft Reflections10 years ago
Ah good point, I didn't realise they where allowing digital downloads to be used on standard devices also. Only time will tell, fingers crossed Sony do the right thing as well as the consumer.
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