PlayStation Mobile - some thoughts
I'm quite new PlayStation Vita owner (a month or so) and was pretty excited about all the news coming out from Sony's Gamescom 2012 presser. Though many of the new games are completely uninteresting for me (racing is my almost-exclusive genre), the announcements around the service and device were really interesting.
The one I'd like to focus on is the "new" PlayStation Mobile. I think it's pretty great what they presented - of course, we'll see the execution of all the promises. Some of the comments from the post (http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2012/8/14/3242383/playstation-mobile-bite-sized-games-android-playstation-certified-vita) inspired me to summarize my thoughts.
First, I'm very happy that another set of games will be available for my Vita. I'm not completely satisfied with the current offerings but the future looks better. Need for Speed Most Wanted is coming for the Vita (I bought the PSV because of that game), Sega All-Stars Racing, PSone classics like Jet Moto and hopefully more PSP games, specifically Motorstorm Arctic Edge for the US Vita store (it's available in the UK). This step was definitely necessary to entice developers and customers (current and potential ones alike).
The buy once, play on all your (supported) devices option is also an important and welcome addition. Nevertheless, if Sony wants to make PSM successful, they need to push the developers. Here are couple of things I'd like to see in PSM:
1. Vita controls
I bought the Vita as I wanted proper controls instead of my iPhone's touch and tilt controls. PSM games should support the Vita controls, like analog sticks, buttons and triggers. Pure smartphone controls are not gonna cut it.
2. Trophy support
I think it’s a no-brainer that trophy support should be implemented. I know that many gamers find trophies and achievements unnecessary but I personally like them. I don't know what kind of rules Sony set for trophies (Microsoft's achievement rules seem to be stricter) but the PSM games should have some sort of limitations like a maximum of 15 trophies to avoid inflation.
Update: trophy support and leaderboards are basically confirmed. It seems that these won't be available at launch but sony plans to incorporate them.
Another clearly needed feature that should be part of PSM - and I mean multiplayer among all PSM-devices, phones, tablets, Vita. We've seen cross-platform online multiplayer (PS3-PC, iOS-OS X), there's no excuse for not doing that. Microsoft left it out from Windows Phone 7 and it's definitely a problem for them. But online is just one part, local multiplayer may be just as important. I’m not sure whether it’s possible but I could see a local split-screen multiplayer option through the PS3 (or PS4). This is possible with certain iOS titles and with an Apple TV, see the next point.
And Sony, don’t be shy to take a cue from your competitor, Nintendo: DS Download Play. A similar option would be awesome to have, even for regular Vita titles (just think about the ad-hoc trophies for ModNation Racers: Road Trip...)
4. iOS support
There are Microsoft and Sony apps in the iOS App Store that can reach out to their respective services to get profile information. Apple has no restrictions to connect to a 3rd party service for games, even if you have Game Center integrated. Developers can report achievements and leaderboards to multiple services including Game Center, nothing should stop Sony (or Microsoft for that matter) to let game developers tap into PSN and XBL from iOS games.
As far as devices go, I think that starting with iPhone 4 and iPad 2 all iOS devices are more than capable to run these upcoming bite-sized games. The relative homogeneity of the iOS platform would be definitely a plus for a service like PSM. Combine that with proper AirPlay mirroring support including split-screen multiplayer support (a la Real Racing 2: http://firemint.com/2011/party-play-update/) and you have a winner.
5. High-profile mobile developer
Reach out to high profile developers and convince them to develop for the platform. As a racing game enthusiast, I'd love to see FireMonkeys' upcoming Real Racing 3 and NFS Most Wanted (Android versions) among the PSM games. They won't be truly bite-sized (who played RR2 knows that the campaign lasts for a while) but do offer short gameplay options. With proper Vita controls and trophies I'd be first in line to get them.
What do you guys think about PSM? I want it to be awesome but as we speak about Sony I have my doubts.