The days of the closed platform are over according to Sony. The era of a PlayStation made by Sony that only plays games approved by Sony (at least out of the box before modders get in the guts) and doesn’t interact with other manufacturers’ devices is at an end. The future is in connectivity and cross-platform functionality.
Speaking with MCV, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe head honcho Jim Ryan discussed how Sony’s place in the entertainment technology market is changing.
“[The] old model of these very siloed platforms is breaking down a bit,” said Ryan, “PS2 was not a connected device. PSP was not really a proper connected device. PS3 is and PS Vita most definitely is. So we have the ability now to have devices talk to each other. We are having to reset a lot of our thinking. And I am enjoying that. But it is a challenge, because we’ve been pushing PS1, PS2, and PS3, basically the same way, and then all of a sudden we are like ‘You have to forget that and think differently.’”
Hence why Sony is transforming its previously closed and segmented game business into something more modern. Dust 514, the first-person shooter based on MMO EVE Online, follows Valve’s Portal 2 in letting console and PC gamers play together. The company also recently acquired cloud-based streaming video game business Gaikai, leading many to believe that the rumored PlayStation 4 will be the first major game console to pursue streaming as a core service. Then there’s PlayStation Mobile, the unified banner for Sony games on both PlayStation Vita and Google Android tablets and phones.
For weary shareholders shocked by Sony’s significant losses, especially those incurred by the PlayStation division, Ryan’s statements should be encouraging. SCE is exploring every possible avenue of expansion.
For game makers though, it’s likely hard to believe the hype. While the era of the traditional closed console, a device that does one thing and one thing only, may be over, the massive popularity of Apple’s iOS devices is spurring a new sort of closed development environment. Microsoft’s Windows 8 is, like the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad, likely going to restrict whose and what products can run on those machines using it. Developers like Valve and Blizzard are upset by what these new closed platforms will do to the games industry.