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New PSN boss: "we're doing what's right for the gamer"

How Sony plans to edge out Xbox Live Arcade.

Sony hopes to lure developers away from Steam, smartphones and Xbox Live Arcade by embracing new business models and offering greater freedom, so says incoming PlayStation Digital Platforms boss Jack Buser.

Speaking to Eurogamer at GDC in San Francisco today, Buser argued that the PlayStation family offers content creators more opportunity than any of its competitors.

"One of the great things about PlayStation Network is that it's able to deploy to such a wide number of devices," he explained.

"We're actually able to leverage this huge install base of not just the PlayStation 3 but the growing install base of Vita. And with our new platforms like PlayStation Suite we're able to again have games on devices which aren't necessarily even manufactured by Sony. So suddenly you realise the ecosystem of PlayStation devices is absolutely tremendous."

In a thinly veiled jibe at Microsoft's tightly-controlled Xbox Live Arcade service, Buser added that PlayStation Network is now offering developers freedom to release their games on their own terms.

"We're really opening up a lot of our policies beyond what you're going to see with other online game platforms," he revealed.

"I think one of the most significant things we do on PSN that isn't really talked about a lot in the consumer press is the notion that game developers - specifically independent game developers - are able to publish their own games on PSN.

"If you look at some of our competition they actually force independent developers to go and find big publishers that eat into the money that they would otherwise make, which to us seems crazy. If someone wants to make a great game and publish it themselves then let them do it.

He also pointed out that, unlike Microsoft, Sony is increasingly willing to cater for emerging business models such as free-to-play.

"You're going to see business models that are possible on PSN that other networks just can't even do. I use the example of free-to-play. Dust 514 - how exciting is that? This notion that you have this amazing experience that is totally free to play, it's such a huge innovation that is really only possible on PlayStation Network.

"If you look at some of our other competitors in this space, there's no free anywhere. Forget free-to-play, because you're paying just to get on the network. With PSN you're able to do full-on free-to-play models, which is why you see games like Dust 514 exclusive to PSN."

Buser refused to offer a straight yes or no when asked if Sony would refuse to release a game on PSN on the grounds that it had previously launched on XBLA, but insisted it had no interest in restricting the types of titles that PS3 owners can access.

"I wouldn't quote me on that particular policy. I'm new to the role and I've no idea what's happened in the past, but our guiding philosophy as I sit here is that we're doing what's right for the gamer," he said.

"We're not interested in putting policies in place that necessarily bar gamers from getting the experiences they want to get. Everything we do, first and foremost we ask ourselves: is this what the gamer wants? And that's one thing that's always going to differentiate us out from everyone else.

"We wouldn't do something that's great for business but that's bad for the gamer. We don't put things in that order. If we're doing something that's right for the gamer, guess what, it's probably going to be right for the business as well."

He then boldly suggested that if there are games that PS3 owners would like to see on PSN then they should make themselves heard.

"If they want to see a particular experience on the platform they need only tell us. And if we hear enough people telling us that's what they want to see we're going to do what's right to get those experiences to our audience."

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