Monday, February 18, 2008

John Hight Talks PLAYSTATION Network Games

John Hight, the director of product development in the Santa Monica Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, was able to tell us a bit on the PLAYSTATION Network.

Some of the problems the PLAYSTATION Network are the pricing, size of games, and the availability of demos.

Games like flOw and Everyday Shooter are some very unusual games. They explain that they are not afraid to put something out there that is different. High explains the reason why the PLAYSTATION Network isn't overstuffed with arcade games such as the Xbox Live Arcade.

“We’re very careful about the stuff we add to our catalog. Early on as a company we decided it’s not going to be about giant numbers and ‘Hey, come to PlayStation Network and you’ll have 5000 games, maybe three of which you actually want. Go ahead and find that needle in the haystack.’ It’s more about each one of these experiences is something special.”

Hight goes on to explain the reason for a lack of a demo for every arcade game. “That’s a hotly debated thing. We did a demo on ‘Blast Factor‘ and I’ve got 600,000 people playing that demo but I haven’t translated that into 600,000 people buying the game. … I think the demo kind of hurt it in a way and people got satiated. They made a presumption that, ‘oh, ok, the whole game is going to be like this.’ It wasn’t true. The game actually has a lot of depth in each one of the levels. … We didn’t actually do a demo for ‘flOw.’ We did a movie. And it was a very conscious decision. Because we were kind of spooked with what we saw with ‘Blast Factor.’ We thought, wow, we don’t want people to just give up on it. … So if I artificially put a clock on it, is that time period right experience for you? Or for the average person? I don’t know. So we felt, nah, let’s not do it. Let’s try to tell people that this is a different experience and show them really great graphics and great music and hopefully we’ll just win them over on execution and if they buy the game then they’ll be satisfied with the experience itself. Because it’s really a subtle experience and I’m not sure a few minutes with a demo would do it justice.”

Thehy have more games coming on the horizon such as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which will be over 2GB.

At GDC this year, Sony’s PSN team will certainly be on the lookout for new games for the service. They’re looking for the unexpected. “People tell me: ‘Tell us what you want,’” Hight told me. “And I said at last GDC, ‘If I tell you what I want then I’m not going to get what I need.’”

[PlayStation Exec Talks PSN]


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