Zeno took the floor first and gave a fairly general overview of where Sony are in terms of hardware penetration in different European countries and numbers of platforms per household. In terms of absolute numbers no-one will be surprised to hear that the UK heads the field, followed by France and Spain. In terms of per capita installation, Ireland heads the table with 27 % of households.
There was some discussion as to why this might be and Niall O’Hanrahan, of SCEE in Ireland noted that the development in the Irish economy, rising levels of disposable income and the high proportion of young people in the population were significant factors. Similar factors have influenced the rapid growth in Sony installations in Spain.
What might be taken from the first part of the presentation was that the PS2 is only about half way through its lifecycle and you should consider developing for it, as about 80 percent of the games on that platform are third party. The second thing one might take away from the session is that Sony are increasingly interested in expanding the market to recruit new consumers. This means that they are increasingly looking for game concepts, which might attract new types of consumers; like Eye Toy did in the last year.
Mark James then took the floor and outlined the three stages that a company goes through in order to become an accredited developer and the elements that they look for in any game concept. ‘Suitability’ and ‘Innovation’ ranked high in the discussions and it would have been good to raise some questions as to what is meant by innovation, as we have done on the forums here on gamedevelopers.ie.
At first glance the two terms might appear contradictory but ‘suitability’ was used in relation to the platform and the market, while innovation was used in relation to features, gameplay and game structure. Don’t forget to include information on your team ‘heritage’, that is the skills and experience of your team.
It was quite some time before we got to the meat of the presentation, so to speak, or at least the bit on the PSP. Mark introduced the new UMD technology, which will be the disk that the PSP will use but will be also introduced as a more general purpose storage device. The UMD will be somewhat smaller than a mini-disc and hold 1.8 GB if my notes are correct – I guess that would be my entire publishing record to date taken care of.
The PSP itself will be fuly 3D and have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Emulators have been circulated to about 150 game studios since last November and Mark and co. are reviewing game concepts for it as we speak. However he did warn the audience that they are not looking for GBA ports, but rather ‘innovation in platform strengths.’
There were a number of questions asked which the speakers could not comment upon. Indeed the answers will possibly be revealed next week at E3 and the timing of this event may have been unfortunate from that perspective.
Michael Griffen from Kapooki chaired the evening and reminded us to keep the 25th of June free for the next IGDA event, which will probably take place in Derry.
Later in a local hostelry we discussed why airplanes don’t let you use GBAs but will let you use laptop computers during flights. Again no answers…