Sony: Support garage devs or innovation suffers

Sony: Support garage devs or innovation suffers

By Rob Crossley and Will Freeman

July 11th 2011 at 12:30PM

PS Vita dev kit to be inexpensive; Touch-only games encouraged

Sony must embrace the rise of the digital indie game developer, the firm’s development boss has said.

SCE chief Shuhei Yoshida, who manages Sony’s global fleet of in-house studios, says running away from the ‘garage developer’ would ultimately be the industry’s loss.

“As an industry, we have to support those smaller teams, and let them try out their ideas,” he told Develop.

“Without doing so, the whole industry will stall, in terms of innovation.”

And Yoshida claimed the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s successor to the PSP, has been built to be as easy as possible for developers to use.

“It is small and light and easy for developers to handle,” he said.

“We made it so the development kit wouldn’t be too expensive.”

Noticeably, Yoshida appeared to be encouraging developers to make touch-only games – the types of experiences that dominate the booming smartphone games market.

“Because Vita has capability to do wholly touched-based or AR-based games, lots of things can be done using just a small portion of the technology,” he said.

Sony is set to break a 15-year industry tradition by porting some of its games to Android-based smartphones; a signalling from the console giant that the mobile sector can no longer be avoided.

PlayStation Suite, a new platform that Sony briefly announced earlier in the year, allows PlayStation developers to port content to Google’s Android operating system.

However, it is not known if Sony will allow Android games to travel the other way and be ported to PS Vita.

But Sony is backing smaller studios already with its PlayStation Network.

The Minis games channel, for example, is a platform for micro-sized and usually inexpensive digital games.

Speaking on the issue of providing developers with a digital platform, Yoshida said: “Having the capability to sell their games on the network is key to giving those smaller teams an opportunity to come up with ideas, and sometimes invest their own money to come up with something special and have their projects meet with millions of users.”

Sony’s stance appears to be at odds with Nintendo’s, which earlier in the year claimed it was “not interested” in working with ‘garage’ developers.

“We are absolutely reaching out to the independent developer,” Nintendo exec Reggie Fils-Aime said.

“Where we've drawn the line is we are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that’s not a business we want to pursue.