A lot of ink has been given to the massive success and appeal of the Xbox Live Arcade as a platform for gamers, developers and publishers. Details about Sony's PlayStation Network, which has both first-party and third-party publishing options, have been harder to come by.
Here, in an interview conducted at GDC, we quizzed John Hight, SCEA's director of product development for its first-party published digital games based in its Santa Monica studio. The vast majority of the major 'indie'-style PSN titles such as Everyday Shooter and fl0w are hand-picked by Sony and first-party published - though Sony is also starting to further push its third-party publishing arm, based out of Foster City.
In the chat, however, first-party supremo Hight talks about the company's philosophy towards fostering 'signature' indie developers, why the platform is better-suited to indie development and publishing than the 360, and future plans for the service -- including support for Japanese PlayStation games.
I'm curious to know how the model for payment and UI for PSN has been evolving over the year-plus, and where it's going in the future in terms of simplification of interface and all of that to help digital games get distribution easier.
John Hight: You're talking about on the network platform itself, and the store?
JH: I'm not the best person to answer that. I'll answer what I know, but we actually have some folks who are specifically responsible for that.
We give them a lot of feedback based on how our customers are reacting to things, and I think you will see a pretty big change in the PlayStation Network in the early part of April, where we roll out some new interface stuff largely based on customer feedback.
Simplification, cutting down on the number of mouse clicks, making it easier to find stuff that you want to find... that's kind of an outgrowth of us having more content now, so we have to make sure that you can get at it easily.
There seems to me to be a kind of aggressive push now for more content from the Sony side. Is that accurate, would you say?
JH: No. I would say that we're always pretty careful about how much we put on the network.
We're very careful about how too much quantity could kill us, because it's more about having really well-selected, cool experiences. I guess we're aggressive in the sense that we're out there looking at a lot of things.
I'm looking at 20 proposals a month, and I only see the stuff that gets filtered through some of my producers. We're definitely trying to talk to everybody out there, and sometimes even if we're not into a particular game or it doesn't fit, we like to have the relationship, because we'd like to hear about what the next game is.