Planet Moon Studios, developer of Armed and Dangerous and Giants: Citizen Kabuto, has decided to create games exclusively for the PlayStation Portable, with producer Aaron Loeb citing Sony's desire for "new ideas" as a key reason for making the switch.
The console is already looking forward to high profile support from Sony itself (with Gran Turismo, Wipeout and other big names already likely handheld titles), Konami (through Metal Gear Acid) and Electronic Arts amongst others, but Planet Moon is one of the first developers to pledge itself solely to the burgeoning handheld format.
Although many details of the PSP equation (price point, release date - even various development issues) have yet to be cemented, Planet Moon hopes to break away from franchise and license-driven titles, and the potentially damaging process of focusing resources and relying so heavily on a single project. It also believes that the backing of major companies like Electronic Arts will boost the format's profile.
Speaking to US website GameSpot, producer Aaron Loeb said the difference with PSP is that "Sony has already made it clear to the industry that they want new ideas on the PSP," something he believes is "not only good for Planet Moon, but good for the industry and good for gamers."
Whether it's a good way of making money is still praying on Loeb's mind though, judging by the developer's comments. It is, he points out, "very possible" for a company of Planet Moon's small stature to work on a single project that is well received but isn't a huge hit - the obvious example being Armed and Dangerous, which did relatively well critically and commercially but nowhere near well enough to be considered a "huge hit".
"As a single-team developer, you spend two years on one [game] 'at bat' and if you strike out, you have nothing to show corporately for two years of work," he remarks. Although he doesn't explicitly say it, the tone of his comments suggests that Planet Moon hopes to spend less time on smaller and more original titles to help sidestep this problem.
Indeed, it's clear from Loeb's comments that originality is very important to Planet Moon. Moreover, Loeb wants to make 'opportunity' titles, "games that are really fun to play right away," pointing out that a lot of big titles on consoles and PCs "have a continuity that you can lose track of." Something Planet Moon hopes to avoid.
Nevertheless siding with the PSP at this stage remains a gamble, although it's something that Loeb deflects as "a gamble everyone takes," drawing comparison to the situation around the launch of the PS2 in 2000, when supporting what turned out to be the most popular console of this generation was still a gamble. Perhaps not an equivalent one, but still a gamble.
"Backing up, we looked at it like this: Sony has now managed to twice launch the world's most successful console, right? So when they say 'We're going to launch a portable platform that's different from anything that's come before, and it will be like this,' our assessment is that they're going to make the right decisions to make that happen. Of course it is a gamble, but you have to take the gamble or you might just as well go home."
Planet Moon is currently working on a third-person action title for PSP.