A few days ago, Sony started a closed Beta test of their Playstation Suite SDK, a tool allowing to create games for the PS Vita and Android. Registration is open to everybody, including (especially?) homebrew devs.
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that I’m in the whole “hacking” stuff for one simple reason: my mind refuses to understand that some great hardware is crippled by bad business decisions. In the case of the PSP, that device had everything to become the best platform for emulators and indie apps, but Sony locked the PSP, and made sure indie devs couldn’t join the fun with a prohibitive entry price (dev kits cost 1500$ initially, and you had to prove you were a respectable company, sign an NDA, before being able to get access).
History, helped by Apple and Google, proved that locking indie devs out of their ecosystem was one of Sony’s biggest mistakes in the past years. They tried to fix it with the Playstation Minis, but it was too late.
Xperia Play, the PS Vita, as well as their new series of tablets bring Sony an opportunity to right this. Sony is now trying to solve the issue of device fragmentation (Android devs know too well about this issue) with a system called the Playstation Suite, which is more or less a virtual machine that will enable developers to create a game once, and run it on several platforms (for now, the PS Vita, Sony’s Android tablets, and the Xperia play, but depending on success, other non-Sony Android tablets/phones, and maybe the PS3, might join the fun).
We’ve heard of the Playstation suite before, but a “recent” (I’m kinda late on this one) technical presentation in October gave lots of details on what it’s going to be. The presentation explains it in details, but the things that got my attention are:
- No painful joining process. Homebrew/indie developers as well as companies are welcome, no NDA
- Small entry fee (not announced)
- Open forums for code discussion and sharing
- PC emulator to test the code
- No need to sign the content in order to test it (this one is fishy…does it mean we can distribute our content outside of the Sony store if we feel like it, just like on Android?)
- C#, running in a Mono virtual machine
So, it looks like Sony is finally trying to embrace the homebrew community here, by providing something that will be close to what google Market or the Apple AppStore have for devs. Yet it’s Sony, I can’t help but feel that there will be too much restrictions one way or another… and with their past, it’s difficult to trust Sony when they say “we love indie devs”. What do you guys think?
Nevertheless, this sounds like a wise move, the Vita will be only one device among others, but Sony can leverage their existing game library on many devices, and it could be that the paystation suite will become their strongest asset in the mobile market.
For those of you who are interested, a closed beta has started a few days ago. Anybody can register, but not everybody will be accepted. To me, if Sony does things correctly, they could become “again” one of the major actors of mobile gaming.