Sony has wisely stopped short of saying it's angling for Apple's iPhone marketshare with the small-sized Minis program for PSP, but given the increasing role games are playing on the iPhone, it's been an encroaching territory the company would be unwise to ignore.
Many iPhone developers see oversaturation on iPhone's App Store as a main challenge on the platform, and with such a low barrier to entry, iPhone game quality levels can vary wildly. With its PSP Minis program, Sony hopes to avoid that problem with a little quality control.
Keeping the barrier to entry low is still a main goal, Sony's Eric Lempel tells us, as part of a new Gamasutra feature
exploring the program and some of the developers getting involved.
"We're really looking to offer some creative freedom here," Lempel says. "There's an experimental quality to Minis that we want to encourage."
Minis will not need stage one or stage two approval rounds, as with full PSP development; instead, they merely require what Lempel calls a "light QA phase" to screen for content and check for bugs.
But although the process is meant to encourage freedom and lower barriers, the company's still fixed on keeping quality above a certain level, something Apple hasn't much done with iPhone apps.
"Part of it is the selection process. We're looking to lower the barriers to entry, not remove them," says Lempel. "We don't want 25,000 Minis on the system if 24,000 are just poor-quality clones of the same four games. Even at the reduced price, purchasing an SDK and needing to pay for an ESRB rating speaks to dedication and a developer's commitment to a certain level of quality."
But that doesn't mean all Minis will be gems: "You're going to get some Minis that will be fantastic and some that will be less so," says Lempel. "That's just the nature of the business. Any gaming channel you'd care to name has its great products and some that are not so great."
In the full feature
, we talk to Sony and developers like Candystand and Subatomic Studios (Fieldrunners
) to look at major factors in the company's PSP Minis program (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).