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Firemint: "PSPgo needs easy access for devs and consumers"

Give developers more control over their products and the platform vendor will succeed, says Real Racing developer

The big lesson Sony can take from the App Store and apply to its PSPgo digital distribution model is making things easy for both developers and customers, Robert Murray, CEO of Firemint has told

"The shorter the path between developer and consumer, the faster the market can grow and innovate," said the studio head.

"Apple took us part of the way there, and they continue to enhance that connection with in-App purchases and notifications. The developer sets the price, they choose when to update, and they can now offer additional goods for an additional cost. They can send messages to their users, they can read user reviews etc," he added.

"There is a long way to go still down that path for any platform vendor that is willing to concede further control to content vendors and consumers."

Such a young market has plenty of room for the two platform holders, believes Murray, pointing out that territory wars between Apple and Sony won't begin until the market is saturated.

"Everything Apple does to grow and widen the market overall helps Sony, similarly everything Sony does to grow and widen the market helps Apple," he pointed out.

However, his Melbourne-based studio, which has created leading tech for the iPhone 3GS, will be taking a cautious approach to PSPgo development for now, according to Murray.

"We're thinking very carefully about how to approach this space. It is far from obvious to us which way we should go with the PSP.

"The PSP platform and audience supports games like Real Racing, but the level of competition for those sort of 'large' games is much higher on PSP than on iPhone. Flight Control style games would be something very fresh to the PSP, but do ultra casual games like this appeal to the PSP audience? That's the question I would like answered."

He also echoes the concerns of other small scale studio managers who, despite the lowering of the physical cost of the PSP software development kit, still see the barrier to entry on the platform as too high.

"I think established game developers won't have many problems as the PSPgo is based on the mature PSP platform. It might be a more difficult space for micro developers or first-time game devs to enter, both because the dev kit may be more difficult to obtain than for iPhone, and because the programming environment is more hardcore.

"I don't think smaller developers are going to buy a dev kit and casually tinker around in the same numbers as they have for iPhone."

Ultimately though, Sony's success might not be defined by its ability to go head-to-head with the App Store and beat it at its own game, reckons Murray. Instead, the publisher could simply use its muscle - its music and movie businesses and existing retail and publisher relationships to leverage its position.

"I think Sony has the muscle to do something special and they also have their PlayStation Store infrastructure to leverage along with their music and movie interests, their back catalogue, their retail relationships and their existing developer relationships.

"I'm sure Sony will do something different from App Store, something that leverages their unique strengths. Hopefully that will result in a win for consumers," Murray concludes.

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