SCE Worldwide Studios VP Michael Denny and other key Sony Liverpool personnel have commented on the direction the company plans to take as both format-holder and software developer as the network-enabled PS3 establishes itself.
Speaking exclusively in the latest issue of Develop, Denny (pictured) said that Sony sees “the future as being about network and being about communities. All games, whether they are launched on disc or electronically, need to create a community and have active community websites and extra content.”
And in addressing the entire games industry, the man that oversees the external and internal development teams at SCEE Liverpool as well as Sony's Amsterdam-based Guerilla Games, added: “We need to come up with relevant content. We need to extend our offerings and create active communities of loyal consumers.”
Although Sony is expected to reveal more about its Network plans during SCE WWS president Phil Harrison’s upcoming GDC keynote, the development teams at SCEE Liverpool have clearly been hard at work implementing the networking strategy and encouraging it amongst other teams.
The Internal Development team, for instance, has already experimented with downloadable content for PSP title WipEout Pure – a pattern to be replicated for the next PSP installment and the series’ PS3 debut – and has recently put the finishing touches to PS3 racer F1 Championship Edition, which includes a variety of multiplayer options.
Downloadable content, says development director Clemens Wangerin, “has shown how much choice you can give a consumer”. Pure is one of the highest-rated PSP titles, according to Metacritic, was the first PSP title to achieve Platinum status, and over 800,000 pieces of downloadable content for the game have been accessed by players.
"Downloadable content helped keep the game on the shelf and encouraged people to not trade the game in," explained Wangerin.
He added: "When you buy music online you can buy single tracks – that kind of principle is relevant here and will play a part in our thinking. Being able to cater to a much finer resolution of gamers’ tastes and maybe create more byte-sized or customisable gaming is a massive advantage."
Sony’s Liverpool stronghold is also home the SCEE External Development team which has been responsible for Buzz, MotorStorm, Pursuit Force and is looking after the European leg of the format-holder's e-Distribution Initiative.
The team is currently producing over 30 new titles (for PS3, PSP and PS2) that will be published by Sony but developed at other studios across Europe - seven of those are new episodes in the BAFTA and Develop Award-winning Buzz quiz game series.
“We don’t want to churn out a series of arcade games or titles you can freely get on the web,” explained external development director John Rostron when discussing the PlayStation Store. “What I like is that you get to see a broad range of titles, and we’re on the look out for something that’s new or innovative.”
The full interview with Denny, Wangerin and Rostron can be found in the latest issue of Develop which is available to download in PDF form here and is hitting subscribers’ desks from today.