Strong words and arguments over the Sony NGP, Nintendo 3DS and the rise of smartphone gaming these past few days, amid disagreements over the direction in which the games industry is moving. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata led the charge, taking to the GDC 2011 stage and decrying smartphone games as not only lower quality but threatening “the high value of software.” Meanwhile, Sony has said that the NGP is “not going to run at 2 GHz because the battery would last five minutes… and it would probably set fire to your pants” but that it sits “halfway” between the original PSP and the PS3, a chase for speed and hardware that some game developers predict will see it “dead on arrival.”
Cellphone game designer Neil Young, CEO of ngmoco, told IndustryGamers that he believes Sony’s insistance on performance rather than producing a “swiss army knife type [range of] functionality” will undermine the NGP, pointing to the increasing popularity in casual gaming on the iPhone and iPod touch. Unlike Iwata, he believes cheap titles are the way forward.
“I think PSP is done and the new [NGP] is dead on arrival. It’s really difficult to compete with an app store that has hundreds of thousands of applications and a wide range of options where the average price paid is around $1.20 and there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of free applications that are really high quality. So I just don’t think Sony’s going to be able to compete with that” Neil Young, CEO, ngmoco
Now, Young is obviously biased, considering his company specialises in the App Store gaming, but he’s also an obvious candidate for the Sony PlayStation Suite, the company’s attempt to corral developers into producing titles for the upcoming cross-platform Android and NGP games store. Still, neither seems likely to reassure Iwata:
“I fear our business is dividing in a way that that threatens the continued employment of those of us who make games. Is maintaining high value games a top priority, or not? … When I look at retailers and I see the $1 and free software, I have to determine that the owner doesn’t care about the high value of software at all” Satoru Iwata, president, Nintendo