Sony Gives Gamers a Chance to Develop for PS3, PSP

Gamers who dream of developing products for Sony’s soon-to-be-released PlayStation 3 (PS3) and its PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld will soon get their chance. The electronics giant will launch Sony Game Yaroze! — which means “Let’s Play Games” — 2006 on Nov. 15 and accept entries from amateur and professional gamers through February.

Sony will furnish the winner with a studio, access to a development team, and money for the project and living expenses. Sony has run the contest since 1995 for its game consoles and handheld gaming devices.

No Mega-Hits

Three PSP games have come out of past contests: Devil Dice, Bombtastic and Doko Demo Issho.

“That’s not exactly what I would call a flaming success, but, chances are, they’ve managed to at least pay for the program,” Michael Arrington, senior analyst with Acacia Research Group, which focuses on the entertainment technology industry, told TechNewsWorld.

Arrington said that despite the questionable return so far, Sony could reap great rewards through Yaroze.

“The potential upside, however, is huge. If just one entrant hits on something with the brand potential of Mario or Pokemon — and if Sony has the foresight to realize it — the company could leverage that into hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. Bit of a dice roll, but it’s better than sitting on your hands,” he said.

“Even if nothing comes of it, it’s still good marketing for Sony and its game products. Everyone who plays games wants to make games, and even just the hint that it might be possible can help build loyalty.”

Development From Within

Game companies do not usually look for outside ideas, but Arrington said he sees a time when that might change.

“I suppose, as the industry matures, there may develop something along the lines of Hollywood-style script optioning for game creation. I don’t think this will come until after a long period of continued growth in middleware — to the point that content people are the most important movers in getting games done. It’s still too driven by technology at this point,” he said.

Video-game maker Electronic Arts announced Oct. 14 that it had signed a deal with director Steven Spielberg to collaborate on three games, a move Arrington pointed to as a sign that game companies are looking for new inspiration.

“It’s one of the first times — other than with specific licensed properties — that the game industry has gone out and looked for a story guy,” he said. “I think this shows that at least the largest publishers know they have to take the Hollywood business model and the content model before their business is ever as large as the movie business.”

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