Sony backs free-to-play business for Vita

Sony backs free-to-play business for Vita

By Rob Crossley

October 13th 2011 at 10:18AM

PlayStation developer also assures retail games can launch simultaneously on PSN

The thriving free-to-play monetisation model is coming to PlayStation Vita, a Sony executive has said.

Chris Norden, a senior developer at SCEA, yesterday met attendees at an industry event in Texas to explain Sony’s policy.

"You are free to explore whatever business model you want,” he said during his speaker session at GDC Online.

“You'll have to talk to your account manager and say ‘here's my idea and here's what I want to do’, but yes, you're allowed to [release free-to-play games]," Norden said, as quoted by Gamasutra.

The free-to-play business model has revitalised the mobile games business, with developers offering their content for free and making their money through virtual items.

Norden’s assurances at GDC Online suggest Sony is willing, and perhaps even comfortable, to apply the business model to its premium handheld.

Platform holder Nintendo this year sparked an industry debate when it claimed that offing games for free has a negative effect on the perceived value of full-price games.

Traditional physical games for Vita will be priced as high as new PS3 games, recent data from Japan has shown.

This sheds further light on Sony’s dichotomised game portfolio strategy, serving both casual and core tastes.

The company is also ambitiously trying to bring Android games to Vita through the PlayStation Suite SDK.

Norden also revealed that retail Vita games are allowed to launch simultaneously on the PlayStation Network.

"PSN is supported from day one, right out of the box at launch," he said.

PSN accounts are transferrable between devices, he added.

PlayStation Vita will launch in the west early next year.