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Q&A: SOE's Carson On PS3 Downloadable Plans

EverQuest creator Sony Online Entertainment is now one of the biggest providers of PlayStation 3 downloadable games to its collegues at Sony, from Gripshift to Midway conversions and beyond - we caught up with SOE's Todd Carson to discuss th
Sony Online Entertainment has been significantly involved in the online infrastructure for the PlayStation 3, helping to create the PlayStation Store for sister firm SCE. Since then, of course, it's been one of the most active sources of downloadable content for the PS3. The company's work has spanned the funding of third-party titles such as Sidhe's Gripshift onto PS3, as well as a deal to bring retro ports of Midway arcade games to the Playstation 3. SOE, best known for its MMOs such as EverQuest and Star Wars Galaxies, has also started self-creating original downloadable titles for the Playstation Store, too, including Cash Guns Chaos, which originally begun its development cycle as a PSP title. Thus we caught up with SOE producer Todd Carson at a recent SOE event to talk about the firm's upcoming PS3 downloadable title High Stakes On The Vegas Trip and its attitude to digital downloads in general. Can you talk a little bit about the state of the SOE portfolio for the PlayStation 3 thus far? Some of the fresh ideas that have already come out are games like Cash Guns Chaos, Gripshift - those are some of the new IPs that we have out there right now. We also have a new IP we’re bringing, High Stakes on the Vegas Strip, to the PS3. So - High Stakes on the Vegas Strip, a poker game - how do you differentiate in that highly crowded genre, or is being downloadable enough? Well I wouldn’t say it’s different from every other title. I mean - it's poker, and we have a 3D environment and highly customizable characters. In particular, we integrated video and audio into the poker game for online play - you can plug in an EyeToy and a USB headset, and see your friends online and interact with them while you’re playing. Sidhe Interactive's [pictured, somewhat puzzle-centric racing/driving game] Gripshift is an interesting title - it was originally a PSP game, and it was upgraded onto the PS3, right? That’s true, [it made it to PS3] at a lower price point. Does a game also being on the PSP make any difference to it appearing on the PlayStation 3? No, not at all - you buy games on the PSP because it’s a mobile device, you want to take it on the run. The two consoles really are two separate entities - and while people might have both and buy [the game] on both, we didn’t see them necessarily as competing with each other. We did upres the graphics for the PS3 version, though, because we wanted to take advantage of what was there - we put some effort into making it look really good on that console. Have you thought of the possibility of more PlayStation Portable titles making their way to PlayStation 3 in the future? Not at this time - although Cash Guns Chaos is out already on the PS3 and actually, that game we started making for the PSP. We were constructing it for the PSP, and about six months before the launch of the PlayStation 3 we decided that, with the work we were putting into it, it would really look good on the PS3. So we kind of changed things up a little bit, and decided to shift our focus from PSP to the PS3. The other thing that actually helped influence our decision for Cash Guns Chaos is that you really need to play the game with two analog sticks. While the PSP has one analog stick, we had set up controls where you had to use the X, circle, square and triangle key to control which direction your character was shooting. But in the end, we found that it just wasn’t quite as effective as having the two analog sticks on the PS3 controller. You've also been working on converting Midway games for digital download, with titles including Rampart, Gauntlet II, Joust and Mortal Kombat II. Actually on that front, a question we've heard from a few gamers - why did you choose to license Mortal Kombat II instead of a later title such as Ultimate Mortal Kombat III? We actually looked at it and Mortal Kombat II was our favorite Mortal Kombat game. We had kicked around doing Mortal Kombat III, Mortal Kombat II and several other titles in our decision for the six Midway games that we did. We just picked ones we liked and we thought could be ported the best - and yes, we just like Mortal Kombat II! It's actually been notable that most of the SOE-developed PlayStation 3 games so far haven't made heavy use of the Sixaxis' tilt function. For upcoming PS3 downloadable titles, have you thought about making more use of that function? Yeah - actually that’s one of the things we would like to incorporate more [going forward] - utilizing the controller to better use tilt functionality.

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