The president of SCE Worldwide Studios (WWS) explains the background to the development process for PS Vita.
How do you feel the reception to PS Vita from the public and the media has been?
It's been fantastic. We have worked hard on the PS Vita platform from the software development and creative standpoint, and judging from consumer and media feedback, our belief on various aspects of developing PS Vita has been well founded. The feedback we have been getting from game developers has been enormously positive, too. Overall, the reception has been hugely energizing.
How long have you been discussing and developing games for PS Vita?
Since the beginning of 2008, WWS have been officially involved in the development of PS Vita by SCEI, and not just with developing games, but in the development of the various aspects of the platform itself too, such as hardware performance and component choices, form factor, usability tests, connectivity, user interface and features, target audience, business models and software product portfolio. In short, everything.
What key learnings were you able take from your work on PSP?
PSP was an impressive piece of hardware when it debuted, with the core performance and the screen enabling PlayStation 2 quality games on the go. However, as the home console generation moved to PlayStation 3, consumers felt games of a similar quality should be playable on handheld consoles too. PSP suffers from the lack of dual analog input, which limits the types of games that play well and PlayStation Network was not supported at launch, although this was added at a later date. Clearly, we have given a lot of thought to this and developed the network plans for PS Vita based on our experience with PSP.
How does PS Vita open up the portable PlayStation experience to new genres?
Various unique user interfaces and digital distribution will help developers experiment with many different types of games, whether they be intuitive, casual games using dual touch; augmented reality games; location based fun activities or network only, free to play, online games. The possibilities are endless for creative developers.
How much storage will the new physical media allow and what kind of content will be included on it?
Games will be made available via the new game media, which is based on flash memory, the storage capacity of which will be larger than Universal Media Disc. As it is flash memory based, you will be able to store game saves on it, not just the game itself, as well as some downloadable content if space allows.
What games are you most looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to playing action adventure titles and first person shooters with gorgeous graphics using the dual analog sticks, as well as some new, unique titles which will make use of the PS Vita user interface. I'm intrigued to see what developers will come up with using the rear touch pad too. Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing how the location based info will be used to enhance games. It is exciting to think how you can integrate your location data into the actual gameplay.
How much input has there been from non-SCE developers?
The PS Vita development team visited many developers and publishers globally with an early prototype of the hardware to get direct feedback. I also personally joined some of the meetings to discuss various aspects of PS Vita and the options we were looking at. The input of other developers outside of WWS has been essential for us to make final decisions on PS Vita. As a result of this, we went through many iterations of PS Vita. It reminded me of the early days of the original PlayStation, when we visited many developers and publishers to get feedback during the development of that product. It's almost as if SCE has gone back to basics, which should be a good thing
Are you planning to provide bespoke games for PlayStation Suite?
Yes, we are looking to provide short form games on PS Suite, which will run on both PlayStation Certified Android devices and PS Vita. However, the true heroes on PS Suite will be small, independent developers, who are much more nimble and have some creative ideas that have never been seen before. I'm very excited to see what kinds of game these small developers will provide via PS Suite later this year.
How will the types of game in development progress over time?
We are working on our popular series as well as brand new concepts, large games and short form games, augmented reality games, touch only games and network only games. We are also looking to expand over time from hardcore to casual games, games for younger consumers and non-game applications as well. We understand traditional games are not the only entertainment that people look for, and PS Vita allows us to develop various types of entertainment on the same hardware platform, which is very exciting.
Thanks to Yoshida-san for taking the time out to answer our questions. Keep an eye on eu.playstation.com for the second part of our exclusive interview with Shuhei Yoshida, president of SCE Worldwide Studios.