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October 04, 2012

Sony Disappointed by Third-Party Support for the Vita

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida recently sat down for an interview with Gamasutra, in which he expressed both surprise and disappointment by the lack of third-party support for Sony's new hand-held gaming platform, the PlayStation Vita. But while the Vita is getting short shrift among developers, where they're going instead may prove the bigger surprise.

Development resources are limited, Yoshida said in the interview, and that's drawing some publishers away from working with handhelds like the PlayStation Vita. But they're not going to the console market, or even the PC market...where many publishers are going instead of to handheld gaming devices is to the mobile and social market. Yoshida acknowledged the problem, saying, "In retrospect, there are so many options for publishers now that we cannot take it for granted that our new platform would be supported by third parties, like many years ago."

While Sony put out a big push for the Vita at the Gamescom show in Germany last month, with new games and new promotions like Cross Buy, in which gamers who buy PS3 games will get a Vita version for no extra cost on some games--as well as the PlayStation Mobile initiative--there are still fewer developers interested overall. Sony, however, isn't taking that lying down; they're actively working to get the small developers to bring their games not only to Android (News - Alert) devices with the PlayStation Certified label, but also to PlayStation Vita from there.

This has the makings of a smart idea, as Sony can take advantage of development that's already going on and expand it outward to bring it to a system with a comparatively small number of games lined up. Sony needs third party support to make the Vita viable, and getting developers who were already working on Android titles to bring their game to the Vita as well is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

The handheld gaming concept is, not surprisingly, suffering somewhat under the weight of its mobile and social counterparts. Much for the same reason digital camera sales suffered following the introduction of the camera phone--it was hard to convince users that they needed a separate device to take pictures when a device they already had on hand could take pictures itself, as well as rapidly deploy them to social networking venues--the handheld gaming concept finds itself under a similar proposition. Why carry around a device that plays games, when users already have on hand a device that will play games and allow users to easily play with other users, as well as upload results to social networking sites and more?

This is the question that Sony sorely needs to answer if the PlayStation Vita is going to see any mileage in the market. They need to make it absolutely clear to the users why they need a PlayStation Vita when their phones will already play games. The more Sony can do to not only do what phones do, but better, the more reason gamers will have to carry another device around with them. With that in hand, the developers will follow along.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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