Sony is "aggressively courting" developers to take part in an App Store-style distribution system for the PSP and PSP Go that will help foster the growth of smaller development teams, shorter production times and "very low price points for new games."
Develop has news of the plan, which will see the launch of a "streamlined content platform" for Sony's handheld console, including cheaper dev kits, shorter quality assurance processes, the elimination of "concept approval" and, for the end user, new games at low prices. More than 50 studios worldwide are already developing these new applications and many more are expected to join up soon.
"One of the things that has been exciting in my time at Sony is the big shift changes we have seen - the latest is that consumers have been consuming digital content in a totally different way," said Zeno Colaco, the head of developer relations at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. "Sony's been working very hard to find our position in that and bring top-end gaming to not just the consumers who were there for the launch of PSP, but extending to an audience that is changing how it consumes entertainment and applications."
Sony won't be making its software development kit publicly available as Apple has done for the iPhone, but Colaco claimed the company was doing everything it could to "lower barriers" to the platform. "It is still a professional environment, you still need a development kit and you still need to have investment and a team. But it can be a small team. We don't see any of the restrictions on the disc-based space being in this space," he said.
Ash Monif of Subatomic Games, the studio behind the iPhone game Fieldrunners, praised Sony for being ahead of both Nintendo and Microsoft in encouraging the development of cheap, digital-only content. "You don't see this happening at Microsoft and you even don't see it happening at Nintendo yet," he said.
"Part of that 'snackability' of the content is because you can deliver the content over WiFi super-fast," he continued. "We're making games that are just 20MB each, that's less than a minute to download - instant gratification, snackable content. This is an opportunity for the premier indie developers - and I hope we represent that group - to come in and offer content that will fit the PSP."