Sony’s platforms have always been notoriously difficult to program for, to the extend that this has been an explicit strategy. Now, however, the winds have changed, and the company is looking to follow a new policy with the PS Vita.
Develop has inteviewed SCE Worldwide CEO Shuhei Yoshida, who speaks about PlayStation founder Ken Kutaragi’s approach to hardware architecture: “In a sense, Kutaragi was enjoying challenging game developers,” he says.
“He was especially challenging the top programmers in the world to come up with something amazing to make use of the performance of each iteration of the PlayStation platforms.
“That was very good – it was great – for the teams with engineers who liked the challenge, but the world has now changed, and today there is a much larger community of developers.”
“The focus has shifted to be less about getting the most out of the hardware, to be about having a very smooth production process. That’s because now it involves so many more people to make one game.”
Michael Denny, senior vice president of SCE Worldwide Studios adds: “When it comes to ease of development, the Vita is a platform with which we’ve been very mindful of that.”
“In terms of smoothing the development process, certainly what the Vita offers is close to that of the PSP, and with some of the help we’re giving to developers, I would say it is the easiest and most well supported platform yet.
“In terms of performance, and the graphics power and programmable shaders and so on, what you can get out of it is far closer to PS3. It’s a great contrast of ease of development to the output you get from the system.”
WWS CTO Richard Lee confirms that ease of use has been a big priority: “We made every effort to make it as easy as possible.”
“I think we took the experiences from PS3, and decided that we wanted to go out there with a great developer environment that is compatible with the third party tools that developers normally use.
“There’s never been anything like this on a PlayStation platform. It is a great development environment, and the stuff that is available before launch is really good in terms of helping developers with performance tuning an so on.”
So it seems that Sony is determined to learn from the PS3 mistakes, with the Vita launching at a relatively low price point, a substantial planned launch line up, and less complicated architecture. It will be interesting to see if this change in policy is enough to bring Sony back to the leading position in console gaming that it held prior to this generation.