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Sony plans power restrictions on PSP games

Battery life concerns become a problem for devs.

Developers working on PlayStation Portable titles will have to ensure that their games don't over-tax the battery on the device or risk falling foul of Sony's technical guidelines, according to sources working on games for the system.

Draft guidelines sent to developers, which will eventually evolve into the technical requirements checklist (TRC) for the system, are alleged to include a demand that games should not exceed a certain level of power consumption.

This apparent response to concerns over the battery life of the system - which is quoted as around 10 hours for music and two hours for movie playback - places the problem firmly in the developers' court.

Sony apparently intends to include a "battery emulator" as part of the PSP development tool set, which will evaluate the projected battery use of a game over an extended period of play. Titles are likely to be judged based on how many hours of play a single battery charge can provide.

However, as yet it's not been decided what an acceptable level of power consumption actually is, with the draft documentation apparently leaving out hard figures for Sony's battery life projections in games. Some developers we spoke to speculated that the firm may be waiting to see what kind of figures are achieved by headline titles such as Metal Gear Acid and Gran Turismo 4 before "drawing a line in the sand" on battery life.

While the PSP has been generally praised for being exceptionally easy to develop for, this new restriction will add a layer of complexity to the development process - and will almost certainly rule out the type of disc streaming technology which has become commonplace in PlayStation 2 titles such as Grand Theft Auto 3, as constantly accessing the disc in this manner would seriously impair battery life.