Sony wants its platforms to be “more open”

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WHAT'S IN THE BOOOOOOOOOOOOOX??

Right now, consoles are what are considered as closed platforms. There are all sorts of licencing hoops developers have to jump through to get their games published – and even once they are, there are even more hoops to jump through just to patch those games. Sony wants to change that.

“Back in the PlayStation 2 days and the PlayStation Portable days, you had to be a full-blown publisher to get your content out to stores. Now we have the PlayStation Network and other digital destinations where people can purchase content,” Adam Boyes, Sony’s  vice president of publisher relations told VentureBeat. “Originally, we had a different policy on free to play. Now we have free-to-play content and microtransactions,” he said.

“We used to have certain requirements for publishing. Now we have none for developers to publish other content. You have to go through the process of submitting for concept approval, but all of these things are things that have naturally evolved over the console life cycle. We’re evolving more than ever now because the industry is evolving.

One of those evolutions is that Sony now allows developers to issue data-only patches to their games for free – something that would have made Fez developer Polytron’s life a lot easier had they published their indie hit Fez on the PSN instead of Xbox Live. The game is, and will likely forever remain slightly broken on Xbox Live – because the certification to issue a patch could cost as must as US$40 000 – a ludicrous sum for something that, for example, Steam doesn’t charge a cent for.

“I think there are a lot of examples in the Sony ecosystem, both in the first-party and the third-party, where we’ve already been changing and evolving our platform quite a bit.”

“If you look at back in the Genesis and SNES days, people forget that the PlayStation was the one that came along and allowed people to be a lot more free,” he said. “I think it’s all come full circle now, as we come upon the sixth year of the PlayStation 3 console and we’re continuing to evolve our policies and improve the openness of the platform. I think we’ve done a great job of evolving policies and the platform and allowing these guys to have a direct path to the consumer.

“Our concept approval process is very light in comparison to what it was in the PS one and PlayStation 2 days. Again, because it’s a different type of developer. If you look at Shawn McGrath and Dyad, those are the kinds of games we like. We weren’t able to tell that story 10 years ago on PS2. So it’s cool that we can work directly with developers and allow them the ability to put their content out there.”

This more relaxed attitude to licencing – and the slight opening up of Sony platforms pleases me. It could just be a reaction to the open, Android-based Ouya console and the obvious public demand for open systems – but if it means more great games on Sony devices, we’re all winners. Now sine you’re being so open…how about giving us Linux for PS3 back, eh?

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Last Updated: August 1, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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