Sony arming PSP to directly take on the DS market

Sony arming PSP to directly take on the DS market

By Rob Crossley

June 8th 2009 at 1:23PM

Sonyâ??s handheld enterprise transformed to allow cheaper development on smaller, casual and niche titles

Sony has transformed its entire outlook on PSP development in a bid to broaden the range of titles available on PSP consoles, to provide its PSP Go system with its own identity, and ultimately to establish a direct rival to Nintendo’s 100 million-selling rival handheld, the Nintendo DS.

Sony recently released a company statement centred on two key objectives; that PSP development should be cheap, and that the PSP should be hosting a catalogue of niche indie titles as well as casual games for broader audiences.

The measures are a far cry from the reputation the original PSP once established; being a handheld that offered watered-down PS2 titles which, while still a technical feat, were often considered too bloated and unfocused for the commuting gamer.

Meanwhile, the platform holder has seen its rival Nintendo dominate the handheld market with cheap titles that are dedicated for a handheld audience.

With a tiny development team, a small budget and a slim timeline, Nintendo managed to deliver Brain Training; a divisive game that has nonetheless sold many millions of copies.

This is the market that Sony is calling for its fleet of partners and developers to enter, arming each with budget-priced dev kits and test kits. On top of this, the micro-sized PSP Go is positioned as a less intimidating, carefree system for the digital age, clearly designed with Nintendo’s casual DS audience in mind.

At E3 Sony announced that it has made a staggering 80 percent price cut in PSP dev kits, with models DTP-T2000A and DTP-T2000 now both priced at $1,500 in North America and €1,200 in Europe. Develop has today reported that Sony will also be cutting its test kit costs to €800 and $1,000.

But the company’s new plans to replicate Nintendo’s success does not end with price cuts; Sony will also be providing a free add-on to its SDK in the shape of ProDG, a programming tool which Sony states is held in high regard among developers.

In its written statement, the company makes its ambitions abundantly clear; “to support a broader range of developers and publishers” and “to create varieties of small software titles”.

Beyond these measures Sony has also implied, slightly ambiguously, that it aims to further streamline the development process for PSN titles – “from license agreement to publishing” – for its “small, download-exclusive software titles.”

The aim again is clear: “more casual, exciting and attractive content to be made available for the ever-growing PlayStation Network”.