Third parties, third schmarties
Is Sony neglecting the lifeblood of the PlayStation 2?
Sony's relationship with its publishing allies is now stretched to breaking point according to Reuters. The company has been more difficult to work with than it was with the PlayStation, mainly because of the tight schedule it opted to maintain and the problems it was itself experiencing with the manufacture and distribution of the console. This report at Yahoo states that one of the key reasons Sony were able to break into the then Nintendo-dominated console market was its third party development support. The costs associated with using the SNES for development of new games were enough to lure publishers and development houses away. The problem is, according to Yahoo, the positions are now reversed, and companies need Sony more than Sony need them. Apparently this has led to a bit of neglect from the console giant. Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) disagrees. "It's clear that companies that have invested a lot of money in development understand that our business model is long term," said spokeswoman Molly Smith. Part of the problem for potential buyers now is that once again we are on the verge of new console releases. The GameBoy Advance while aiming for a different market could do damage to PS2 sales, and looking further ahead both Nintendo and Microsoft are developing next generation consoles to compete with Sony. Now more than ever it would seem the company needs the help of third parties. Microsoft are in a very strong position with the Xbox because major developers are flocking to them despite the absence of a strong history in the console market. Any history at all in fact. The Redmond-based PC giant has already acquired companies like Bungie (Halo), and boasts support from Lionhead and other key development studios. Buying their own in-house talent has cunningly sidestepped the trap of not having enough pre-branded games to use at launch, either. Outsiders (including Electronic Arts President John Riccitiello) criticized Sony for their poor array of launch titles, including games like Ridge Racer V and Tekken Tag Tournament, which failed to live up their initial promise. Sales of the PS2 are thought to have suffered due to the lack of high quality Sony-branded games, despite success stories from both EA (SSX) and Eidos (TimeSplitters). Sony's recent show-boating over the capabilities of its next next-generation technology have less helped more hindered, too. The only positive step the company has been seen to take is financial interest in companies like Naughty Dog. By all accounts, Sony should be vying for the support of third parties and not shunning them, if indeed it is, by restricting development kits (SDKs) and other necessary tools as the reports indicate. Doing so would be almost suicidal at this point in the PlayStation 2's growth. Related Feature - Sony Buys Developers