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Sony: Competing With iPhone, PSP Homebrew 'Not Part Of The Plan'
Sony: Competing With iPhone, PSP Homebrew 'Not Part Of The Plan' Exclusive
August 19, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

August 19, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Although the long-rumored unveiling of the PlayStation 3 Slim alongside the platform's anticipated $100 price reduction was the talk of GamesCom yesterday, Sony also revealed its intention to release 'PSP Minis,' smaller lower-priced titles aimed for the October launch of the download-only PSP Go.

A move to target the small apps market raises obvious parallels to the iPhone space, but in an interview with Gamasutra, Sony PlayStation Network operations director Eric Lempel insists Sony is not angling for a bite of the Apple marketshare.

"It's totally different," he says. "At E3, we announced the cost reduction of the PSP dev tools, so the price came down significantly. With that came a lot of other developers who were interested in creating games but weren't interested in creating these kind of 'big huge experiences'."

"We wanted to get into this area to have developers... creating low-priced, bite-sized games you could download quickly and play. It's not open to users; these are professional developers, it's not like what you're seeing on that other platform."

But although open-sourcing PSP development or nurturing a homebrew scene is not immediately on Sony's radar -- "we're really only focusing on today with this, and that's not part of the plan" -- Lempel also noted that "we never say never for anything."

"This is kind of a new program," he says. "We have our full-blown games, and now here is another tier in that offering."

Speaking of full-blown games, Lempel also says the company hasn't yet arrived at a solution for the UMD collections of PSP-3000 users who wish to upgrade to the newer, UMD-less PSP Go this fall. Although the company plans to release future handheld games in both formats for the foreseeable future, there's still the issue of whether users who go disc-less will have to re-purchase games they already own.

"It's a really valid question, and we're still evaluating possibilities there," says Lempel. He says that it's a major issue of consideration within the company, and that arriving at an answer is a top priority. "We're not quite sure what we'll end up with, but we are... looking at solutions," he adds.

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Notorious Grizz
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Totally useless as a gaming system without 2 analog sticks.Top ten biggest design flaws in gaming history in my opinion.I just cant understand why the hell they did that.Seems super cool when you first get it,then you notice how clumsy and akward the controls are.

Ben Rice
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Richard, there is no possible way the GO was going to have 2 sticks. The GO is a hardware revamp, not an entirely new piece of tech.

The GO is in the same spirit of Nintendo's revamping of the DS with the DSi. A simple cosmetic makeover, with a few new features.

I believe if they were to only carry the PSP GO SKU, and discontinue the UMD PSPs, then you may have had an argument.

Lo Pan
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I want to love this system, but I am hearing through the underground that PSP support is rapidly disappearing amongst big player publishers.

Steven Boswell
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Who knows, maybe this new system will revive the PSP platform in general.

Apple originally had no intention of allowing independent developers; that happened as a response to jailbreaking. Homebrew development has been possible on the PSP for most of its history, but Sony never allowed independent developers. Maybe it will now? I kind of hope it does...the PSP seriously outpowers the iPhone as far as video games is concerned, and a store full of similarly-priced apps that demonstrates that would be a good thing for Sony.

Roberto Dillon
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@Steven: I doubt they will, though I'd really love to see it too.

Opening to Indies and hobbyists was the smartest move Microsoft did this generation IMHO, and it is what really keeps the XBox alive and well despite its well known design problems/flaws.

It's sad both Sony and Nintendo didn't realize this yet...

Stephen Northcott
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I can see Sony's view to some extent. They don't want the deluge of absolute rubbish that will come with an AppStore style approach. However it's still extremely frustrating for competent devs with some track record that are not EA or some other brand...

We've been interested in developing for both the PS3 and PSP for some time, and between us (as a team) have enough history, in our opinion, to make us a good bet for Sony as a small independent team. We've even lowered our initial expectations with a request to simply develop for the PSP - and then see how things go. And we're happy to pony up the cash for anything Sony will sell us, and cover our end up to and even including a final rejection if Sony don't like our ideas / product. But to date no joy. We're simply tied up in red-tape and boilerplate replies... which is a crying shame.

If we were asking them to invest in us I could understand it, but we're not - at all.

The fact that The PSN can handle a product like LBP, something which has been shown not to be possible with a recent popular indie title on XBL, tends to suggest Sony have an infrastructure which technically is better suited to a little more open approach to indie development. I fervently hope that things change..