Phil Harrison finally breaks the silence. He openly talked about the PS3's new on-line service and what sort of games that will be available for it. Harris brings out Sony's aim for exclusive content and what Sony is looking for when it comes to PS3 content. Gamers will finally get a little insight into what they can expect from Sony’s new service, and if the service will actually measure up.
In an article on the blog site threespeech.com, Phil Harrison covers some interesting topics, but most importantly the one about Sony’s PS3 on-line service. Nick Tipping had a conversation with Sony a while back regarding porting Mr. Robot over to Sony’s on-line service. However, Nick and Phil both point out that Sony is looking for exclusive titles for the PS3.
“We announced an initiative from a worldwide studios perspective at GDC this year...” “...as a call to action to the development community to encourage them to create games specifically for us, that we would fund, that we would publish, in the online sense of the word, and distribute online.” Says Phil. The only thing is that it looks a little despotic that Sony wants specific, exclusive independent games exclusive for the PS3. It puts some strain on the exposure these independent games will receive, given that anyone who doesn’t own a PS3 won’t have access to these titles.
Harrison continued on to say that... “We’re developing about 40 products that fit that strategy right now,” he continued on to say that “My strategy was to encourage developers to push the machine technically, creatively, artistically - to innovate in lots of different ways. But don’t be restricted by ghettoising games into a particular genre, or a particular display mechanic, because what we’ve seen on other systems tend to be retro 2D games, and we’re pushing the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation 3. Plus, the fact that every PS3 has a hard disc drive means that we’re not restricted by the size of the download, and that has a huge impact on the kind of game design that you can do.”
This seems like a good strategy for promoting the PS3 as an individual powerhouse for both casual and hardcore gaming. However, the high expectations being set by Sony for independent developers might cripple a lot of smaller indie publishers and developers. Moonpod’s Nick Tipping mentioned, in regards to Sony’s online service, that “It was harder to get any real information about what the deal was here, as I think they still had a lot to finalize (this was some months back) but Sony seemed keen to push the idea of exclusive titles. I suspect this is where the PS3 and 360 war will be won, since there's little difference between the hardware performance-wise, but I didn't expect that to carry over to indie downloadable titles. We actually submitted an idea, but whilst they liked it, they weren't convinced we could pull it off being such a small team.” I sort of thought the whole point of the indie scene being available on the newer consoles was for small games to be made available by small development teams. But maybe that isn’t Sony’s goal. Maybe it is simply to offer an alternative form of gaming on their on-line service, though, not necessarily a service directly in correlation with independent gaming.
Phil, however, went on to say that... “We’re seeing an emerging strength in developers creating games specifically for downloadable content,” ... “We’re seeing that as a really interesting way of stimulating creativity, experimentation… And it makes me feel as excited as about the games that we saw at the beginning of PS1, when there was a lot of really interesting innovation happening in the marketplace. I think we’ll see that on PlayStation 3 as well.”
For the sake of competition, growth, and innovation, I hope the PS3's on-line service, and availability of downloadable games, doesn’t get hampered by the limitation on development exclusivity. But from the looks of things so far, there really will be a war being fought between Microsoft and Sony for on-line supremacy.