For a number of years after the release of the PlayStation 3 Sony Computer Entertainment received complaints from game developers about difficulties with designing games for the PS3, which lead to a number of consequences for the company. With the new portable game system PlayStation Vita, Sony hopes that complaints will become things of the past and the console will be adored by game developers.
“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," said Michael Denny, senior vice president of SCE Worldwide Studios, in an interview with Develop web-site.
Sony needs to make sure that PlayStation Vita has the most easy-to-use and advanced tools for designing of games. Firstly, modern game development process requires a lot more work and people than even five years ago, which means that platform holders have to provide not only installed base numbers, but sophisticated toolset to programmers to get a high amount of titles. Secondly, Sony hopes that PS Vita will have games with long and high-quality gameplay compared to current titles, which means additional efforts from developers who will demand appropriate tools to cut their costs. Finally, the new system will have to fight not only Nintendo 3DS, but smartphones/tablets powered by Apple iOS, Google Android and others that are endorsed more and more by game developers.
To simplify game design for PlayStation Vita, Sony's software for developers now allows developers to use industry-standard tools that are used to create titles for other platforms as well. The lesson of the PS3 has been learnt, according to Sony, and the design of future game consoles will get less complex from developers' point of view. Sony blames former chief Ken Kutaragi of enjoying making consoles with high potential peak performance that was extremely hard to achieve.
“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 and so on," said Richard Lee, chief technology officer of SCE Worldwide Studios.
But while the PS Vita was not designed to achieve supercomputer-class performance in mind, Sony believes that its capabilities and performance will be akin to those of the PlayStation 3, which means a great shift in terms of quality of games.
“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," added Mr. Lee.
Sony NGP is based on a system-on-chip with four ARM Cortex-A9 cores, PowerVR SGX543MP4+ graphics engine and a memory controller. The new portable game console has 5" multi-touch OLED screen with 960x544 resolution, typical set of PSP buttons, two cameras (front and rear), Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, GPS, six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), three-axis electronic compass, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR controller, integrated speakers and microphone as well as multi touchpad located on the back side of the system. For the first time, a portable entertainment system will feature two analog sticks, which enable a wider range of game genres to be brought into the portable experience.
A Wi-Fi model will be available for ¥24980 yen (including tax) in Japan, $249 in the U.S. and €249 in Europe, while a 3G/Wi-Fi model will be available for ¥29980 yen (including tax) in Japan, $299 in the U.S. and €299 in Europe. PS Vita will launch in the global market starting at the end of 2011. AT&T, which powers the U.S.’s fastest mobile broadband network, will be the exclusive service provider in the United States for PlayStation Vita.