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PSPgo barriers off-putting for indies

But could be "special", say iPhone devs.

iPhone developers Johnny Two Shoes (The Heist, Banana Dash), Normalware (Bebot) and Firemint (Flight Control) believe the PSPgo cannot go toe-to-toe with the App Store and shouldn't try to.

"I don't think smaller developers are going to buy a dev kit and casually tinker around in the same numbers as they have for iPhone," Robert Murray, Firemint CEO, tells GamesIndustry.biz.

Sony may have cut the price of the PSP dev tools by 80 per cent (to USD 1500), but Apple charges nothing (only a one-off publishing licence fee of USD 99). That's why Murray reckons only "established studios" will have the funds and therefore time to unravel PSPgo and find success.

"You can build iPhone apps just as long as you have a Mac for no additional cost. You don't even need an iPhone or iPod to start out - I think this has given a lot of individuals absolutely no barrier of entry to development," agrees Maxwell Scott-Slade, co-founder of Johnny Two Shoes.

"The cost is also a factor for development time, you don't need months or years to build great iPhone applications."

The App Store surpassed 1bn downloads in nine months, and games are among the top sellers. Success stories are rife and frequent and the market has been proven.

The PSPgo has "approximately zero" owners at the moment, quips Normalware's Russell Black, who is reluctant to jump onboard before numbers are worthwhile.

"If Sony's App Store also let you sell games to people with a regular, existing PSP model, that would be a much more attractive prospect," he says.

"There are nearly 50 million of those out there already. Even if you only sold to a fraction of one percent of those people, it's a significant number of sales. And even if the PSPgo sells great from day one, it's going to take a long time before it starts getting anywhere near those numbers."

But, as Maxwell Scott-Slade highlights, both PSPgo and iPhone offer something different. Sony treads a more "traditional" path of bigger, longer games, while Apple "conquers" the casual side with masses of quick and cheap experiences. Sony has a "great possibility to differentiate itself".

"[Sony] has the muscle to do something special", adds Murray, who thinks the PSPgo-maker ought to "leverage their unique strengths", such as the corporation arms of film and music.

Plus: competition is healthy. "Everything Apple does to grow and widen the market overall helps Sony," says Murray. "Similarly, everything Sony does to grow and widen the market helps Apple."

"In the end," Maxwell Scott-Slade concludes, "the consumer wins for choice and developers win for a more direct access to their audience."

The PSPgo launches in Europe on 1st October and will cost GBP 250.

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Robert Purchese

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Bertie is a synonym for Eurogamer. Writes, podcasts, looks after the Supporter Programme. Talks a lot.