Sony is experimenting with new ways of doing business by launching First Flight, a crowdfunding platform Sony teams can use to gauge public interest and drum up public investment in new business projects.
There are no games among the initial lineup of First Flight projects, but Yu Suzuki's recent surprise appearance at this year's PlayStation E3 press conference to announce his Shenmue 3 Kickstarter suggests that Sony is comfortable with the idea of crowdfunding game development projects.
Sony has actually already experimented with crowdfunding internal projects; last year it quietly launched a funding campaign on Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake for a "FES Watch" e-paper wristwatch developed in-house.
FES Watch project lead Yuki Sugiue later explained to Ignition that Sony did so because "we didn't know if the demand was there...we wanted to make sure that someone out there would actually want to buy it."
Now, the FES Watch is also up for sale on First Flight, which Sony describes in a press release as affording internal projects "the opportunity to ascertain the actual needs of the market" and "improvement through direct dialogue with customers."
The service is currently only available in Japan, and is operating in partnership with Yahoo! Japan, which is handling First Flight's payment systems.