PlayStation Mobile isn't perfect, but it's a good start, devs say
The PlayStation Mobile store has been open for a couple of weeks now, and while initial impressions were good, the real test for a new platform is whether or not the game sales being to roll in.
The new system for PS Vita and select PlayStation-certified Android devices allows developers to sell their games via the PlayStation Store with relative ease. Sony is counting on the move to bring in as many indie developers as possible, to help reignite interest in the flagging PS Vita.
One such indie studio is Vlambeer, made up of Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman, who launched a version of their hit title Super Crate Box
for PS Mobile. While sales haven't exactly been something to write home about, the duo has found that publicity-wise, they really can't complain.
"Super Crate Box
was absolutely at the frontlines of Sony's push, so we're quite certain we had a better experience than most developers had," admits Ismail, "but we really think that any great game that launches on the service now will get good attention."
This additional publicity from the PS Mobile version has seen downloads of the PC and Mac versions of Super Crate Box
increase, as well as sales of the iOS version, while the PS Mobile version itself saw several thousand copies sold in its first week.
It's all been a little difficult for the team to check up on, however, given that PlayStation Mobile hasn't actually be rolled out in The Netherlands yet and hence Vlambeer can't buy its own game. The launch wasn't without its issues either -- in particular, Ismail notes, "We have little to no idea about what people think, aside from what we can find on Twitter and forums."
Yet despite all this, he appears very happy overall with how Sony has handled the launch. "From what we've seen, we're extremely happy about the storefront," he adds. "Sony seems to be taking Playstation Mobile extremely seriously, dedicating a real, easily accessible part of the PlayStation Store to it, instead of hiding it somewhere in the back like Xbox Live Indie Games.
"Their developer relations team is amazing," he continues. "We had quick access to all and any technical support we requested, they worked with us on generating attention for the game through their blog and even put the game up in demo pods at some events. One employee even drove out during his weekend to bring us his own, personal Vita when our own Vita got stolen on the Eurogamer Expo showfloor."
Tikipod's Dugan Jackson also had a game in the PS Mobile launch selection -- the well-received Aqua Kitty: Milk Mine Defender
. He is still a little undecided as to whether the PS Mobile part of the store is being publicized well enough.
"Using a PS Vita, it felt pretty easy to me to find PS Mobile games on the store," he says, "but a couple of people I know have mentioned that they had trouble -- they had been searching the normal 'Game' part of the store, unaware that they needed to switch to the PS Mobile section first."
Jackson believes that the PS Mobile dedicated sections a little removed from the rest of the store's content, and that it would actually be better if PS Mobile was more integrated into the rest of the system.
"Perhaps a search query under the 'Game' heading could come up with results for PSM titles too," he suggests. He also notes that PS Mobile games cannot be purchased for your Vita through the PS Store on PlayStation 3 -- he's hoping this functionality will be added to the revamped PS Store.
As for the future of PS Mobile, Jackson believes that ongoing promotion is the key, potentially bringing in more devs and customers. "You don't want to be making games for a service that people don't know about after all, or one that is buried too deep in menus," he adds.
In particular, he echoes sentiment that I noted recently -- a good number of PlayStation players love their trophies, and PS Mobile desperately needs support for them, and fast. "Trophy support is something I see being asked for again and again in forums by gamers," he says.
James Marsden is another dev who has been getting to grips with PS Mobile. His studio, Futurlab, launched Velocity
on PS Minis earlier this year, and now has two games for PS Mobile -- Fuel Tiracas
and Beats Slider
-- plus another on the way. Has the platform been kind to him?
"I'd say so, yes," he answers. "It's a beta launch, so PS Mobile hasn't benefited from Sony's marketing machine just yet. I expect that once more handset manufacturers are onboard and integration with PSN is included, there will be a considerable push to get the message across."
Marsden has found that the banners dotted across the front page of the PS Mobile tab have helped to draw players in to purchase his game -- "people are finding our games no problem," he adds.
As for the lack of additional games since the service launched two weeks ago (three games have been added in total), Marsden points out that the public program is yet to fully take off.
"I know several other launch window developers that have great games in the works," he tells us. "Obviously we are lucky to be part of the exclusive launch line up, whereas thousands of other developers around the world are waiting for the public program to go live so they can submit their games.
"Once that is opened up, we'll see plenty of games popping up. I know one developer that has five games ready to submit."