Things got off to a quick start on Tuesday, April 24th 2012 at the beautiful and historic Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California. While most of the L.A. Games Conference focuses on business strategies for PC and mobile gaming, a good number of representatives from console gaming were present. Microsoft, Activision and Ubisoft sent representatives but it was Jack Buser, Senior Director of Playstation Digital Platforms that got things started in the opening, State of the Games Panel.
Last year, the big debate was about whether or not Facebook was the primary platform opportunity for social gaming. The reports over the past year have indicated that with declining Facebook gaming and overall engagement, that is probably not the case. This year, mobile platforms are clearly gaining strength, to some degree at the expense of handheld consoles. Long time 2nd place handheld console maker, Sony seems to have a good grasp on that.
Jack Buser, in his comments, indicated that Sony has a development suite for mobile game makers that allows them to develop for Playstation certified mobile devices including those not made by Sony. He did not elaborate on what hardware was required to be Playstation certified but that these titles would be either automatically or easily ported to Playstation Vita. Though, there was much complaining about the price of Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter: Alliance RPG, a Playstation Vita launch title, there is probably some correlation with the new development suite.
Of course, Sony isn’t putting all of their eggs in one basket. Eve Online developer, CCP is working on a free-to-play shooter for Playstation 3, Dust 514. Free-to-play is typically found online or on mobile phones and looks to recover costs and profits solely through micro-transactions for in-game upgrades. Many at the conference were willing to write off console gaming completely, due to the install base of smartphones and tablets. To some extent, the sales numbers of handhelds may at first glance support that argument, there are of course many flaws to that over-reaction. While it may take some strategic adjustment there is still plenty of room for consoles.
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