10 February 2011

The NGP and the Smart phones revolution. - by Benjamin Hill

      Posted 02/06/11 06:42:00 am  

With the announcement of the NGP it seems that the effects of the smart phone are finally seeping into what many would consider to be the core game scene. Sony’s announcement of Android compatibility shows a new way of thinking for a company that helped shape the gaming world of today and it will be interesting to see whether this business model will be as supported as say Apples app store. Yet as a designer and someone who interested in games development I am more interested in what this “compatibility” will open up for smaller game developers. With both the iPhone, iPad and Android Smart phones we have seen a huge rise in “bite” sized gaming that has allowed smaller developers to reach larger audiences as well as make decent sized profits, something that is becoming more difficult in the traditional games market. Unless you are a guaranteed big seller like Call of Duty or Fifa it can be a huge financial risk making a game for the console market whereas with the downloadable model it costs developers and publishers less to create, make and market their product.

So have Sony finally hit the nail on the head? Well it depends on how they approach the situation. If they focus on easy access and a simple model that allows gamers to simultaneously have a game on their PS3, their Android phone and their NGP with saving that carries between the different hardware then they could be onto a winner. Yet if they just throw a load of indie titles and old PS stock into a “new look” market place we could have another Xbox live indie store that suffered from lots of below average titles and a few shiny gems which was also difficult to navigate. Apples app store works on the basis of the top 25 lists that allow consumers to see what is hot making it easy for them navigate as well as buy. A similar approach from Sony would be beneficial as the current PS Store suffers from a layered design that can easily alienate consumers from finding titles and exploring the market place.

Its these small design ideas that really can make and break many design teams desperate to get their game noticed and if Sony want to attract and keep a large number of developers creating games that are cross platform they will need to prove that their Playstation Suite is indeed the place to market your game rather than Apples successful App store. To combat this it has been said that their "NGP is a developer's dream – Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for years". This is exciting news for developers who want to work and make games quickly, easily and professionally and with the inclusion of a front and rear touch panels could be potentially used for extremely innovative titles, titles that could sell well if the Playstation Suite is as accessible as for mentioned.

For me I am interested on how Apple decides to expand on their current success and how the current major console companies combat this. Sony seems to have made the first move and it will be interesting to see if Microsoft follow with such confidence. Nintendo on the other hand seem to be in favour of their traditional tactics that won over many consumers and developers with the DS. Will this be replicated with the 3DS? I guess we will have to wait till March 25th when the first of the next generation hand held’s is released. 

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