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.