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Yoshida: Small games, indies crucial to Vita success
Yoshida: Small games, indies crucial to Vita success Exclusive
June 8, 2012 | By Leigh Alexander

June 8, 2012 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC, Smartphone/Tablet, Indie, Programming, Art, Design, Exclusive, E3

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida says working with smaller independent developers is key to the success of the PlayStation family, particularly when it comes to the Vita handheld.

The development of Vita happened alongside the smartphone boom and was influenced by it: "The whole development process of Vita was us watching the smartphone and the tablet market grow and blossom," Yoshida told Gamasutra during E3 this week.

"We've seen lots of small games sold digitally through the app stores of each device, and that's something we thought is a great addition to the whole offering of video games to the consumers," he said.

"We do not necessarily see the smartphone replacing the portable console market," Yoshida continues. "It's true that many casual people already own smartphones, and spending a dollar for a game is a very easy thing to do. People who really like games want more immersive, deeper games. In addition, they also enjoy short-form, small games."

Strategy for the Vita involves putting strong core IP like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed on the platform -- "But let's make sure that small games can also be made, and that we can take care of lots of indie developers and individuals who want to express themselves," Yoshida says.

SCEA's Pub Fund is focused on funding indies; Yoshida says one of his favorite Vita games is Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack from Drinkbox Studios, funded through the program.

"We do it for the love of it, almost," he says. "It's not like small games sell $100 million revenues. But we really think it's important to work with younger people, and people who really sometimes disregard conventions of making games -- Jon Mak made Everyday Shooter by himself."

Adds Yoshida: "When games are made by a small number of people, the creative vision of one person really shines through the entire game. That's really where we find some magic happens."

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Bruno Xavier
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If thats the focus... They do not know what they are doing or they have a very... veeeery long way to go.
The tools they provide for "small indies" are just not there.

Kenneth Blaney
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I think when they say "small indies" they don't mean the same thing as when XBLIG says "small indies". In the past when Sony as mentioned indie studios with things like the pub fund, they were still expecting professionals, not hobbyists.

Mike Motschy
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Well every professional was a hobbyist to begin... just saying... maybe do it like steam, and let everyone submit a game, but let a team decide if the game is worthy

Keith Thomson
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Playstation Suite/Mobile is there, and you can download it now. You can't quite publish with it yet, but it's supposed to be ready for that soon. It's on par with other platforms commonly used by indie developers such as XNA, and C#/Mono based multiplatform phone tools.

Herbert Fowler
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The PSP has been around for how long now? Their portable SDK is in beta. Sony is WAY behind the power curve on this one.

Raymond Grier
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Vita is not PSP. Each new system gets a new SDK.

Felipe Budinich
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I wanted to, but to have access to their beta SDK I had to be located in Japan, Europe or North America. And if that has changed now, I wont consider it, since it's too late in the race to do so.

Leonardo Ceballos
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As an Unity Android developer who has worked with the Xperia Play I can say that its really cool to be able to combine traditional and touch controls when making a game. And the Vita has a ton more horsepower. But I'm not changing my whole way of working right now to target a system that has gotten off to a shaky start.

Get me a version of Unity for the Vita though, and I'm all over it. At the very least expect high-res, enhanced control versions of my games right away! And hey, at least you'd sell one more Vita: the one I'd get to develop on ;)

Joe Zachery
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Sony lets work on getting some games first. No matter who or where you get it from. Just try to get some games for your handheld.

Dave Endresak
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Sony, I just want to say... Project Diva F will sell the Vita, especially if Sega includes the editor mode which I am sure they are (since they did with prior PJD games). Let customers may the content and share with each other. The market is there and waiting. We know what we want and don't want for the Vita (many people don't want CoD or AC for the Vita by the way, so that won't sell the system for you to millions of consumers around the world).

You need a software title that sells the system, and you have one lined up. You, Crypton, and Sega just have to work out a deal. That's what the market wants you to do.

Dave Bellinger
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The "Killer App" strategy is great if it works out, but it's not very reliable in the long run. I think building a solid library for the Vita is equally important and, more than that, shows a concern to offer consumers a diverse selection of gaming for their product.

Additionally, I believe many people DO want Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed on the Vita, neither of which will be ports, and it's certainly an odd decision you've made to push AGAINST having more content for the Vita. (Unless you believe it's taking attention away from other, stronger products those developers could be doing for the system? Odd logic, in any case)

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kenneth Baird
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I'll be interested if they allow me to only sell my game for platforms with real sticks and buttons. I'm not interested in touch screen gameplay (at least not right now). Also they need to think hard about discovery. I don't want to pay some Russian mobster to have a fighting chance on "the lists". Also hope they don't bury the indie stuff 10 layers down in some menu.

Jeremy Reaban
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See, the trouble with this plan is that what's in it for the consumer over the iPod Touch or a cheap tablet? Which is almost entirely small and indie games

Sure, being able to play games with sticks and buttons is nice, but not at the cost of paying several times more for games.

Asking Vita (or PSP) owners to pay $40 for the same game on mobile for $5-10, or $15 for a $5 game, or $5-7 for 99 cent game is just not going to work.

Jonathan Murphy
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They needed to hint a PS4 at E3 2012. Because the Vita stalled out. On the console market Sony is improving. But they need an extra push in consoles. This is the same problem with Nintendo. Too much focus on the handhelds, without addressing it's flaw. High price points for software in a bad economy.

Evan Combs
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While having a strong indie scene with small games is important, it isn't going to sell Vita's on its own. Neither will COD and AC. While there is a segment of the market that wants to play their console games in a portable format, those type of games are not going to sell the Vita as they are not distinct. If you want to sell the Vita it comes down to having original IP's that takes advantage of the hardware. That isn't going to come from already established IPs from your non-portable brethren.

Joe McGinn
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They could always focus on something unique that the platform could to really well ... like augmented reality ... but no they take Harry Potter and do "fake VR" on the PS3 instead.

matt klinck
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I think it's a nice thought that they are supporting indie dev studios, even if not many are getting into it right away. The price point of 40 bucks for a new game on the go is steep for people right now, even if they are worth a lot more than games for tablets and smartphones. Seeing games get on it for cheaper from indie's would give me more of a reason to purchase the Vita.

Lex Allen
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If they really want indies, they'll have to find a way to accept games without requiring a $3,000 development kit. Most platforms are free to develop for, so I don't know why anyone would risk this much.