Vita: Why developing for Playstation Mobile is a waste of time

When the Playstation Suite (now known as Playstation Mobile) was announced, I was extremely excited at the idea. Playstation suite was full of promises. Vita compatibility, Android compatibility, and potentially PS3 compatibility. The Playstation suite also made the implicit promise of reducing fragmentation on Android, by bringing a “playstation seal of quality” to a range of devices.

The Playstation suite was the solution for indie devs and homebrew programmers who wanted to develop officially on Sony’s new consoles.

In hindsight, I think spending some time on the Playstation Mobile SDK, for an independent developer, is a waste of time and money. Let me explain…

It’s all about numbers

First of all, with its new name, the Playstation Mobile is sending the clear signal that your applications will not be available on the PS3. PS3 compatibility was never promised by Sony, but is something many were hoping. Now it’s obvious, Sony is cutting indie developers from its 65 million PS3 owners userbase (you still have the minis for that, though…), leaving you with a userbase of somewhere between 5 and 15 million users (that’s Sony certified device owners + Vita owners + HTC Certified devices, yet to come).

Note on these numbers: I am assuming numbers of about 1.5 million Vita users, 5 million owners of Sony compatible devices, and roughly the same for HTC compatible device owners. (this is assuming Sony and HTC each represent 10% of the total Android user base, and that 15% of that is certified Playstation Mobile compatible).

15 million potential users sounds a lot? Well, compare it to the 400 million Android users, and the 300 million iOS users out there, then think again…

As an indie developer, one of the things you want for your app is a large audience. The Sony playstation Mobile does not offer that for now, and I don’t think it ever will. Bringing HTC to the party took Sony 6 months, and the compatible devices are not even announced yet, so what are the hopes to see more devices/companies join the Playstation suite certification any time soon? If you want to develop a nice touch application and make a bit of pocket money with it, Android or iOS is where you should be.

In addition to that, although Sony will try to be “flexible” on the apps it will have in that program, I’m pretty convinced it will be roughly similar to what Apple has. Apple can afford to put crazy restrictions on their apps because of their gigantic user base (every developer is ready to make sacrifices if it means such a large audience). Sony can’t really.

Finally, by not making the Playstation suite available to the PS3, Sony fails once again at bridging the gap between their devices, and once again we won’t have the full “Playstation experience” we were all wishing for. Sony’s devices, as usual, stay far away from each other, Playstation Mobile won’t be the symbiosis we really expected.

But games on the vita will use the full potential of the machine, Right? Right?

Another reason people might want to develop on the Playstation Mobile system is because the Vita is, let’s face it, a nice piece of hardware. The back touchpad is a cool addition, the screen is awesome, etc… so developing in order to fully use that kind of functionality would be really awesome…

… except Sony have been very clear several times that they will enforce strict rules on the compatibility of the devices. Your app does not only need to run on the Vita, it needs to run on (for example) the Xperia play as well, and on the upcoming pss certified devices. At this stage, let’s say that your app needs to be able to run on any highend android device, including ones that don’t have a physical pad, ones that don’t have a back touchpad, ones that don’t have such a big screen, etc…

The result? A game developed on the playstation Mobile SDK cannot fully use the power of the Vita, but rather must  (technically) reach the lowest common denominator between all certified devices.

My conclusion is that if you’re serious about developing a touch game as an indie developer, you should go Android or iOS directly, without going through the Playstation Mobile SDK. If what you want is to actually develop high end games for the Vita or Sony devices, you’d rather look into becoming a Minis dev, or an actual developer with Sony (which, err, is not really easy for indie devs).

Are any of you developing on Playstation Mobile? Have you thought of developing for android or iOS instead? What are your thoughts?

  1. TopHat’s avatar

    Just seeing Xperia play made me want to stop useing the sdk.

    Reply

  2. Xilent’s avatar

    I was developing for iOS but since i sold my iPod, because Apple’s Costumer Service is very bad. I buyed a Motorola Phone, but the Costumer Service wasnt better either. Well i now got a Android Device with 1 Ghz and a PowerVR 530 so developing with Unity is very exiting. I got a Vita too but well there is only one Developing suite that is well for beginners very hard work to figure out what to do to develop a game. When Unity would have PS Vita support i would be very happy, because you could export games to the Vita and much more Indie games would be released. But for now. I will not develop for the Vita.

    Reply

    1. dragng8’s avatar

      Im looking more into developing for the ios and android devices. It just seems more plausible if your’re looking to make somewhat of a living. They haven’t been around as long as Sony’s products, but the future of smart phones is BRIGHT and many apps have been ported between the two OS’s and made some developers lots of money for the quality work they have produced. I would love to make a game as hot as Angry Birds for ios and Android. Who knows? Maybe someday my apps could inspire fruit snacks, toys, and clothing as well lol.

      Reply

  3. cry*’s avatar

    It will develop don’t worry, you desperate idiot.

    Reply

  4. dimy93’s avatar

    Actually the SDK is not that bad. Yeah I agree with the long list of minuses but it’s the only affordable way to develop for Vita so I’ll take those limitations

    Reply

  5. mad8vad’s avatar

    I think we shouldn’t ignore that legal way for homebrew. VHBL is good but it will block access to PSN. Also developing on PSM in not so difficult. I was newer use C# and wrote quite fast

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      I don’t disagree with your comment on VHBL. But legal alternatives exist and look much better to me: either go full Android, or get a “Minis” license, you’ll get 5 times more audience.

      Reply

    2. Zer01ne’s avatar

      You legal way become not “free” in few times, after the Beta test you will can’t debug/use application on your PlayStation Vita without sign a contract with Sony (99$/Years) !

      Reply

  6. WatsuG’s avatar

    When you say that the Playstation mobile platform only has 15 million potential users, you should still remember that many of those 15 million are probably gamers, who want to buy games.

    It still sucks that it’s not possible to make apps specifically for the psv with the sdk

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      No. Out of these 15 million potential buyers, only 2 million own a Vita. The others own Sony or HTC tablets and phones, and are no more gamers than any other android owner.

      Edit: also Vita owners are closer to the “hard core” gamer side, and potentially less inclined to buy an indie game. Just a personal guess here, though

      Reply

      1. WatsuG’s avatar

        Oh, I didn’t know that few owned vitas. :/
        I just mean the people who have bought phones like experia play are hopefully a little more interested in gaming than the average android user. If I understood your article right HTC will also start making phones similar to the experia play, with real buttons and d-pads.

        Reply

  7. Jd8531’s avatar

    I have to disagree wololo. Ps mobile is great for advance devs, we wouldn’t have gotten great apps like the remote desktop app. And it covers a huge range of sony devices giving a bigger market. Now where I do agree is that it’s bad for indies, both skill and price wise. Other software has interfaces with no need for programing. As well as The software is limited, the vita is bottle necked. I’ve only been able to get low fps, and power capabilities.

    Competing software like unity, covers iOS all the way to ps3 for $99+ (plus publishing fees: apple license ect)
    But for them changing the name it could be as to PS4 coming soon. I’ve heard that it’ll get it’s own dev software.

    Reply

    1. Ronald’s avatar

      If i understood wololo article remote app wont be on market because it is designed specifically for the vita its controls are using vita for playing pc games but id imagine the dev could easily change controls to have usage across all mobile devices.

      Reply

  8. jd20dog’s avatar

    i see your piont of view,
    i see the psm sdk more as a training tool, as compered to something usable to the more serius coders

    Reply

  9. Gilgamesh’s avatar

    For indie developers, OUYA > PS Mobile, IMO anyways. The idea of the OUYA makes me want to look to take a serious look into Android.

    Reply

    1. Jd8531’s avatar

      but with it fully hack-able…people will just pirate.

      Reply

      1. Ronald’s avatar

        Android is fully hackable and yet devs still make money when making an app its up to dev to secure their games.

        Reply

        1. rodakk’s avatar

          …and you can also use the system of in-app purchases which is a bit more secure.

          Reply

  10. jd20dog’s avatar

    i see your point, i see the psm sdk more as a training tool with little uses other then learning the c++ coding
    or just apps
    i dont see games being reasonable on the sdk as it is, unless you want to make ps1 games or something

    Reply

    1. jurian_assassin’s avatar

      The SDK is C# not C++.

      I completely agree with wololo. When I first heard of the suite I was excited for the vita and ps3, and hoped it would bring a ton of good affordable games to the systems. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that sony would restrict it so much that it would be practically useless for any dev to use it. And with this information, seems I read sony correctly (not really a hard thing to do).

      Reply

      1. jd20dog’s avatar

        yeah sorry about that caught that after i posted it
        sadly the blog doesn’t allow for editing post
        the sdk seems more tailored to ios style apps like flashlight or other closed box apps

        Reply

        1. shinratdr’s avatar

          There is plenty more iOS has to offer than “Flashlight apps”. Have you ever actually used iOS for any length of time? It feels like no one here has judging by the misinformation abound.

          iOS development is sandboxed for security reasons. Vita development is neutered to protect the licensing cost of the full priced SDK. Completely different situations, and the Vita is much more restrictive. All Apple really stops you from doing is utilizing private APIs. The PSM SDK actually stops you from using most of the Vita hardware, it’s more like OtherOS on the PS3.

          If it was actually like iOS that would be great. You can do plenty in the iOS sandbox. If you’re expecting the Vita to run a VNC server or SABnzbd+ then you’re SOL but especially for game development Apple has almost no restrictions.

          Reply

          1. wololo’s avatar

            Things get different when you try to get your app to the store though. I’m hearing horror stories of some apps being rejected because they are “too close” to some Apple official apps, for example. And this is not “myths”, I’m talking of people I work directly with, who have to go through many issues to get their app on the store.

            But I don’t entirely disagree with you: the reasons Sony would reject an app on the vita can be quite different from the reasons Apple would reject an app.
            Then again, “security” is not the only motive behind Apple’s limitation. A lot of their restrictions are about making the share of the lion in sales (look at all the restrictions for selling digital content through an app…)

  11. auron’s avatar

    yeah i remember Sony said there working with HTC, but what does that mean? since there working with HTC what will happen.

    Reply

  12. Dallox’s avatar

    Of course its sad that only a small amount of android devices gets to play your game but its still really cool for just making small homebrews run on your vita without hacking. Plus the fact that you can write in C# (Also its funny how Sony used MonoDevelop on its Studio)
    But i agree, if you wanna make money use something else (like just Mono or PlayN), But if you just wanna run something on your Vita it is cool to have.

    Reply

  13. omegarob’s avatar

    i think at this rate hakers will be the only hope 4 vita & sony too.
    they officially take the path of we have a nice piece of hardwere but we give to end user the same or quite same of expirience of a psp , and maybe they convinced the softhouse
    but not users ,2 milions are very poor .
    sony of corse cannot handbrake so eysely, because of investor relations, so here this soft find space .
    personally i own a vita but it takes only dust, i prefer to teke my old psp and have more fun.

    sorry 4 english

    Reply

  14. Norml’s avatar

    Just have to wait and see but that sounds about right on how $ony does business. It’s all ass backwards, no quality control or PR system anymore.

    Reply

  15. cscash241’s avatar

    I chose html5, because Its simple and works on almost anything. Now if only Sony would add support for the audio and video tags…

    Reply

  16. Grumble bramble blah’s avatar

    Really? You’re full of it. All your big talk, then this? Way to help the scene, bro. At least let the service go live and see the actual restrictions in place. And iOS and android have that whole lowest common device thing too.
    And 99 a year is hardly a lot of cash.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      I have no clue why you are thinking this is related to “helping the scene”. We’ll see what the restrictions are, but I think they will be pretty heavy. About the lowest common denominator issue on android and iOS: yes. Did you actually read the article? My whole point is that if you have to deal with “lowest common denominator” issues, you’d rather do it on a platform that has 400 million users, than on one that has 15 million. In particular when the one with 15 millions has any restriction whatsoever. And costs money…

      Reply

      1. Grumble bramble blah’s avatar

        You’re butthurt over something, and it’s apparent.
        This is miles better than nothing, and the more respect you gain, the more important your voice.
        Just because these posters want to pirate games? Because you’ll have trouble with doom? Why, bro. Our not who you claim to be, if his is how you feel.

        Reply

  17. Ps vita Games’s avatar

    i see your piont of view,
    i see the psm sdk more as a training tool, as compered to something usable to the more serius coders

    Reply

  18. devilmarx’s avatar

    wololo your right, in my though they are getting ideas to other indie developer so that they can have another idea to be promise to us, i am a computer programmer but i don’t even know how to Huck… or create my own games… and its not just me… there are some others the question is why they don’t even made a iso loader on vita?… and why they need to launch another app for vita to use. or another mind drilling to think just to make another app?…

    Reply

  19. vhblfans’s avatar

    i hope pss SDK support for greater system privileges.

    Reply

  20. kira.30’s avatar

    that was a good read, always great, thanks.

    Reply

  21. jlo138’s avatar

    Hey guys. I just discovered twitchtv.com which is a site to watch streaming live people play video games. Thought I’d say that incase you may want to play and stream wagic. Not sure how to stream there but you can watch for free without signing up.

    Reply

  22. Aye Guy’s avatar

    $99/year…that is only $8.25/month

    Reply

  23. PR3D4T0Rz’s avatar

    i agree..

    Reply

  24. CrystalMusic’s avatar

    Wow and that was a negative perspective and I feel some bitterness from it. If some indie devs will make great apps using psm means more kind of human will think/tempt to buy Vita, the logic is like “putting some cheese to lure/attract the mouse.” In the end, If the dev don’t like making app for vita then Don’t, It’s simply as 1,2 and 3.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      No bitterness on my end, just facts and numbers :)

      Reply

  25. Kefkiroth’s avatar

    I don’t think indie devs have that much of a good chance on PS3 just because Minis look terrible because they were made with the PSP’s resolution.
    In iOS, you can develop for any of the devices, but IIRC Minis HAVE to have the PSP’s specs in mind, and thus they kill the experience on PS3/Vita (not that they’re bad, I think they’re fine on PSP).

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      Ah, you’re right :(

      Reply

  26. Dallox’s avatar

    Wololo, check this out: http://monogame.codeplex.com/
    Apperently Mono is busy with coding it for the PSVita. So you can write once, run on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Xbox, Windows Phone and the Windows 8 metro and their busy with the Vita now.
    Dream game engine? I think so xD

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      That actually looks pretty interesting! I wonder if they will have some kind of contract with Sony, or if they will provide some kind of “plugin” for Playstation Mobile…

      Reply

      1. Dallox’s avatar

        I think they do have something with Sony. Since Sony is using the Mono framework for there SDK. So i think its fair for Mono to create an engine for it.

        Reply

  27. Asmith906’s avatar

    How in the world would you have sony improve PSM if they dont have developer feedback. IMO that is the wrong way to go about it. If you are a developer $99 is not a lot of money for the amount of potential consumers you may gain. Dont forget to develop for IOS you need a mac too.

    Reply

  28. Fifthmoon’s avatar

    I have to disagree. Ios games need to be $0.99 or it loses much of its market. A ps vita game at $10 – $15 is considered cheap and if its a good game most likely a huge chunk of ur market buys it. Out 2 mil say 1.5mil buys it x 15$. thats looking pretty lucrative to me

    Reply

  29. Matt’s avatar

    I released a couple of iOS apps a while back. They got good reviews, but lost in a claustrophobic sea of apps they didn’t sell. I admit I probably sucked at marketing.
    I’m not working on a psmobile app, but if anyone is planning on one, my advice is to get it out there asap before the market gets flooded.
    My guess is when they first start coming out you’ll even get reviews on sites like ign.

    Reply

  30. faithinchaos’s avatar

    personally, I’ll be making games that I want to play on my vita. nothing more. if the other users out there find that it’s hard to play, well, i didn’t make it for them. i’m already developing an app by myself that I can play. if anyone want to spend a dollar on it, thats a bonus! if not, whatever, it didn’t cost me anything but time, which i have.

    Reply

  31. Grumble bramble blah’s avatar

    ..ehem.

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a393041/playstation-mobile-could-come-to-ps3.html

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a394448/playstation-mobile-could-offer-trophies-free-games-in-future.html

    You know what? Fuck this article you wrote. I appreciate all you’ve been doing, but this is currently one of the biggest “scene” web pages right now, and you’re actually discouraging more games from being made? Why u no like vita , wololo?
    99$ a year isn’t shit to be complaining about. Concessions and progress are made, then you get all hoity toity about it.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      About me not liking the Vita:
      We’re talking of one of the big 3 here, not a random company coming up with a new console. I am extremely tired of every generation of console starting again from scratch, as if the previous versions did not exist. Where are amazon, netflix, hulu on the vita? Where is html5 support? Why does it only support a subset of psp games? I would be extremely angry if everytime I buy a new computer I cannot use from day 1 the stuff I had been using on the previous one, or equivalent apps. With Sony, it’s as if every console has to start again from the beginning. The result? It takes 5 years for the product to be where it should be at its release.
      As usual, I love the hardware that Sony delivered, and I hate what they’re doing with it in terms of software. Nothing new. That was my problem with the psp and the ps3 as well, Sony does not learn.

      About “99$ a year”:
      This is one of the minor complaints I make about Playstation Mobile, but clearly not the main problem. You’re talking about one sentence in an article made of 14 paragraphs, sorry if you missed the “meat” of my rant…

      If I had to summarize my article in a few words, it’s that Sony has not enough to offer, and too late, for indie developers. I’m not hating the Vita, I’m being realistic.

      Reply

  32. chris’s avatar

    Wololo the difference is in the offer too, how many apps are on IOS or Android, and how many will be available on PSM?

    You have a lot more of focus on your app here.

    Reply

    1. wololo’s avatar

      Fair enough, this is a good point. If your app makes it to the first batch, this gives you a possibility to have some good exposure.

      Reply

  33. zethfox’s avatar

    just a quick point, number one reason not to bother devoloping for this platform is that droid x360 you reviewed. nuff said.

    Reply

  34. micheal’s avatar

    i like the idea of developing for the vita, its such a perfect little device shame its done so poorly. it just needs one exclusive game thats as amazing as sonic or zelda to really sell it. im working on a game for ios and i think after it is complete i will move it over to vita, even if it doesn’t get posted on their market it will still be fun to see what i can achieve.

    one thing that i think of is that even though theres not many people with a vita theres a lot less indie games in there as well, might be like 50 or something so yours is going to be noticed straight away where as ios its like finding a needle in a haystack, and there new store update makes it even worse. so potentially if its a decent game it should sell as theres not a lot of competition on the vita device.

    Reply

  35. DBG’s avatar

    I will have to respectfully disagree. I don’t know if you have ever spent time with the SDK but it’s pretty great and if it gives me a chance to get my foot in the door with SCE then I’m all for it (current title will be released in US in Q2 2013 and select EU support and Japan shortly after – maybe you will change your mind once you play a truly awesome game =p).

    Reply

  36. Dan E. Smith’s avatar

    I don’t see why it is a waste of time, Sony should have done this a long time ago. Look at Apple when they first released the Iphone and Ipod touch it was piece of shit until they released the App Store in addition to the SDK. Yes the SDK is for C# programmers, but Indie developers like these languages for portability and low learning curve. People make it like C# or Java is such slow language, it is compared to C++ but these languages have gone through a lot of improvement that now a days with fast computers nobody is going to see a difference unless you are programming an OS that is were performance and power is really needed.

    Reply

  37. Sparkster’s avatar

    Forget Android – got straight to iOS. Android is the most stupendous, ridiculous, overly complicated and just purely pathetic platform I have ever had the unfortunate experience to attempt to develop for – after spending good money on 2 devices with the intention of becoming an Android deveoper I have, after over a year brainracking, come to the conclusion that Android, for developers, is simply completely shit. I will NEVER touch Android development again – what a farce and a waste of time (which I value highly). It will be nigh on impossible to create a decent app unless you happen to have an entire team of scientists on standby.

    Reply

  38. free vita iso games’s avatar

    i see your piont of view,
    i see the psm sdk more as a training tool, as compered to something usable to the more serius coders

    Reply

  39. Angus Cheng’s avatar

    You make some good points, PSM isn’t as good as iOS, but I would say it is better than Android for an indie developer. The amount of PSM customers divided by the amount of PSM developers is pretty high. This means it’s easy to get exposure and sales.

    customers / developers is an important metric for indie game developers to judge a platform.

    I don’t like supporting low end devices, it’s a pain in the ass. On PSM you only have 96 MB to work with. This is a pain, but there’s a good chance this number could go up in the future, it’ll mean excluding devices from PSM.

    The SDK is very nice, and much cleaner than the Android SDK. I’m currently porting my game Tokyo Hosto to PSM and really enjoying the process. I’ll update with sales as soon as the game comes out.

    Reply

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>