Brisbane Studio Signs Up For PSP Minis, Wants PSPgo

As Sony launches the PSPgo today in the same week Film Victoria announced a funding scheme for downloadable game development, it seems a good time be a local, independent developer.

Phil Larsen from Brisbane's Halfbrick agrees. His studio has been working on a series of small, downloadable titles under the Halfbrick Fridays umbrella, in addition to their bigger projects such as the upcoming Raskulls for Xbox Live Arcade.

Recently, Halfbrick revealed they'd signed on as a developer of games for Sony's PSP Minis, a new section of the PlayStation Store dedicated to downloadable games of 100MB or less in size for the PSP.

"It's definitely the way the winds are changing these days," says Larsen, describing the appeal of the Minis concept. "Some big budget AAA titles seem to be missing their mark, whereas affordable, simpler games are becoming incredibly popular with PC, XBLA and iPhone.

"Sony is stepping up to the plate with the Minis, and thanks to the existing PlayStation Network and hardware, PSP Minis should definitely appeal to those who want to try something new with their consoles.

"A key point is that the PSP is still a traditional platform with buttons and comfortable control, while still having games that are as quick and simple to boot up as those on iPhone."

Larsen has noted the difference in approach between Sony's PSP Minis and Microsoft's XBLA and Indie Games initiative. He says Microsoft is very big on promoting a community atmosphere over all their products, and this explains the peer-review elements of the Indie Games channel.

"Sony, on the other hand, is taking charge and making these smaller games available, but adopting a more official developer approach. They've opened doors to developers everywhere to give it a try, but it's a different submission process so the library of games may pan out differently."

The advantage of Sony retaining a tight leash is that the Minis store won't be overrun with the kind of nonsense that plagues the iPhone and Xbox Indie Games. The flipside is that, well, Sony still decides what goes up on the service.

As for the PSPgo, Larsen is excited by the new handheld.

"I want one!" he tells me. "I've had experience as a gamer with the PSP, but obviously Sony now recognises that a few issues need to be addressed, not the least of which is the UMD format.

"There's been an outcry over the price, but I have no idea how it's going to affect sales. Maybe everyone is underestimating the purchasing power of the gaming market these days, but obviously the decision was made for a reason, so we'll have to wait and see if it works out well.

"It's such a tidy unit that has a good array of functionality, so I'll be following the data very closely to check out how the everyone takes to it."

So will we, Phil. And while we wait, take a look at Halfbrick's first two PSP Minis, Halfbrick Echoes and Halfbrick Blast-off. Both were released on the Xbox Indie Games, but are now being ported over to the PSP.


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