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
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.
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.