November 20, 2012 9:00 PM | Staff
Today Sony has opened the floodgates, announcing an update to the SDK and a new online developer portal that provides access to the tools for any person or studio wanting to get involved and build/release games for the platform.
For those who missed the launch last month, PS Mobile allows indie developers to sell their games via the PlayStation Store with relative ease. Once a studio or individual has registered and paid $99 per year for a publisher license, they can then release as many games as they want, as long as they keep to the relatively lax service guidelines.
Early signs were good, with the platform positioned well in the online store, and the studios involved feeling encouraged by what Sony had in place. Sarah Thomson, manager of PS Mobile content for Sony, tells Gamasutra that what is currently in place is just the "first phase" of what the company wants to achieve with the platform.
"We've gotten really great feedback with the developers that we were able to work with," she says. "We're gathering all the feedback that they're giving us, whether it be things that they're loving, or things they'd love to see changed or improved on."
She adds, "We're quite excited to see how involved the developers are with us, and that's something we're welcoming." Thomson hopes to maintain this philosophy going forward, with various new features and functionality to come, as the platform evolves dependent on how developers and gamers alike respond to it.
Of course, where there's an open platform, there are issues to overcome, from developers putting out direct clones of other studios' games, to those people who consider it amusing to upload content that is clearly against the rules. Then again, there's also the content that straddles the guidelines, making it difficult to determine whether a game is deemed acceptable or not.
Says Thomson, Sony is ready with some curation tricks up its sleeve.
"The fundamental philosophy is that this is an open platform," she explains. "This is the first time that PlayStation has ever made the barrier so low for entry for developers, which is a really good thing. We want to be able to offer a real rich array of content."
"Now the way that we're looking at it that's different to a lot of other platforms, is that we're wanting to approach this with a much thicker layer of curation," she continues. "What that means is we'll be policing the storefront for obvious clones or games that will be crossing some major barriers or breaking some major rules in our guidelines."
That's not to say that Sony's policing will determine whether a game is fit to settle down in the PS Store, however. "Really we want to be able to have a place where developers can have a lot of freedom to develop the kinds of games they want to develop, whether that be really elaborate rich experiences, or something a little bit more snack-sized, but still with that quality level," says Thomson.
She adds, "So the layer of curation is really about us working with developers in a lot of different ways, in a few different touch points - being able to draw out and showcase the real show-stoppers, the real flagship content that we feel is going to justify the platform and really showcase it."
Compared to the iOS App Store, for example, PS Mobile is looking to run its curation efforts a little deeper.
"I think that's something you're seeing with iOS and Apple and other platforms - they do [curation] to a certain degree, but I think we want to take that a few steps further," she notes. "We want to work more closely, and really broaden out our inner circle of developers that we're working with, and provide a lot of support with discoverability. Because you know, it's just one of the biggest pinpoints for developers these days."
Attack of the clones
But what of those titles that are on the fence when it comes to curation? Those games that get lambasted on Twitter for essentially ripping off another game entirely, yet aren't exactly carbon copies? Are those games welcome on PS Mobile too, or will they be rejected?
"There's no sort of one blanket answer to that," admits Thomson. "It's a case-by-case situation."
"I think it's also something that we'll be tackling from all different angles," she adds. "So we'll have that first line of app reviews, and anything that stands out as a clone, we're able to shut down within that first filter. And then if anything happens to get past the filter - which I'm sure it will; at the end of the day, if we have thousands of games going through our system, there's going to be some that will slip through the cracks. What we can do is have other layers kick in there as well."
Those extra layers will include the ability for users to be able to report offensive or rule-breaking content, flagging it up to the PS Mobile team so Sony can check it out and see if it fits the curation guidelines.
"We also will be scanning the storefront and taking a look at what's launching and what's getting pushed out there," Thomson says. "So I think we'll be very diligent about it, and we'll be taking down things as quickly as we can, if they do indeed break any of the content guidelines that we have."
As for questions about specific additional content for PS Mobile (such as the promised trophies and leaderboards), Thomson says there's no new information right now -- which will be a real bummer to those devs and gamer crying out for it.
Fortunately, there are new additions to the system to report. Thomson says that phased launches in numerous extra countries are planned over "the next several months", while there are "plans to build out the cross-connectivity between the stores [Game and PS Mobile], and we're looking at new ways to promote and showcase the content."
[Mike Rose wrote this article, which originally appeared on Gamasutra.]