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GDC Austin: PSP Minis Drop Features To Hasten Approval Time

GDC Austin: PSP Minis Drop Features To Hasten Approval Time

September 16, 2009 | By Kris Graft

September 16, 2009 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

At GDC Austin on Wednesday, Sony confirmed that the bite-sized PSP Mini digital download games will not be allowed to have wireless multiplayer functionality, downloadable content, or software updates.

Sony Computer Entertainment America senior account manager Justin Cooney said that the decision to bar the features is to "accelerate the approval process."

"When you look at it from a testing perspective, you have to do more QA. [Allowing those features] would defeat the purpose of having a dedicated service for smaller content," he told Gamasutra after a GDC session. "It increases the barriers." While Sony is barring wireless multiplayer, there are announced Mini games that have "hotseat" multiplayer in which players can swap the handheld and take turns.

Sony announced PSP Minis in August. The games are restricted to a 100MB download size and centered on pick-up-and-play accessibility. Minis launch with the revised PSP hardware, PSP Go, on October 1, with a library of 15 games, including iPhone-derived games like Fieldrunners and Hero of Sparta.

Cooney said that the QA process for PSP Minis typically take three to five days, compared to up to two weeks for full-sized PSP games. "Perhaps other times of the year, it may be shorter." He said that barring downloadable content and software updates are also "part of the streamlining" process for Mini QA.

"From our perspective, if we're going to reduce the time it takes to get through our internal process, it helps that we don't have to check multiplayer features," he said.

The PSP Mini guidelines are a marked difference from those of iPhone and iPod Touch games, in which developers can implement online features, downloadable content, and software updates that allow developers to evolve their games beyond release.

Would iPhone developers who want to bring their products over to PSP become turned off by Sony's PSP Mini restrictions? "I think from an iPhone perspective, you can create a Minis product from your iPhone product, or create a [full-size] PSP game," Cooney said. "Nothing stops you from bringing an iPhone product to the PlayStation platform. It's just really up to the developer to decide if they want it to be a regular title or a PSP Mini title."

John Howard with InMotion software, developers of the iPhone game I Dig It, is one developer expressing interest in porting iPhone games over to PSP Minis. Howard wasn't terribly concerned with the inability to have multiplayer, DLC, or even updates. He was just pleased to see that there is yet another venue for small, bite-sized games.

"If it's going to be as simple as they say it's going to be, and the pricing model is realistic, we'll deal with the downsides. All platforms have a downside," he said.

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