Sony at Risk of a PSN Developer Exodus?

Sony at Risk of a PSN Developer Exodus?

The PlayStation Network is on the mend, and Sony has free games in store for users who have been burned by the month-long downtime and theft of personal info. Players are happy enough to get back to “work,” but studios that depend on the PSN for their daily bread aren’t about to be pacified by a pat on the back and a copy of LittleBigPlanet.

For instance, games that were supposed to be released in the window of the PSN’s downtime tripped and stumbled during their time to soar. Obviously, re-releases are in the cards–the PlayStation Store began a twice-per-week publishing schedule on May 24–but developers are worried about competing for time and money in the crowded release schedule. They’re also worried about competing against Sony’s free games.

Ilari Kuittinen, the CEO of Outland developer Housemarque, wonders if anyone will still care about his studio’s platforming-combat game when the Store comes back online. Outland was released just as soon as the PSN fizzled out, and Kuittinen admits its chances for recovery are muddy. “Everyone now gets games for free (including our Dead Nation and Super Stardust HD), so people might just play the free games for a while,” he said. “By the time they are ready to buy something, Outland is maybe old news.”

Even Capcom said that the PSN’s downtime might cost the company millions, and that revenue loss may well impact future projects. In short, developers are worried and irritated over the downtime, and some (like Kuittinen) wonder if consumers will go back to using the PSN confidently. Is Sony at risk of having developers pull their projects from the PSN?

Theoretically, studios could release games on Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, and WiiWare, bypassing the PSN altogether. That probably won’t happen, as the PSN is still a major distribution platform, despite its troubles. The digital console game market is rapidly becoming as relevant as retail, and nothing looks to replace the PSN for a long time yet. Moreover, the upcoming release of Sony’s NGP means the possibility of contributing to a busy handheld market, and portable game systems are finding increasing favor with busy gamers these days. Despite all the frustration developers have experienced as a result of the PSN’s downtime, none of them are going to shut themselves out.

The concern that gamers might not be comfortable returning to the PSN is also a valid one, though it, too, probably won’t amount to much in the end. The PSN will still see regular levels of use, albeit with pre-paid cards instead of credit cards.

Even so, Sony should listen to developers’ concerns and compensate them however possible, particularly the studios that had important release dates annihilated by the downtime. Everyone just wants to go back to normality, and Sony ought to extend a few hands to help get devs back on their feet. Happy developers mean happy customers, which means a happy platform.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. Interesting article. I hope consumer’s eagerness to support PSN once again eases developer’s irritation and disbelief in the brand. I for one will go back to support PSN once it’s back to the game. Everyone in this day and age is open to the kind of hacking that Sony is unfortunatelly still facing and penalising one company for it only helps condoning the intruder’s intentions.

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