Sony signs indie developers to strengthen its PS Vita line up

Velocity FuturLab

Back in May, the video game industry was jawing on big releases meant to carry us through the summer drought. Diablo 3, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Max Payne 3 dominated message boards and sales charts, while B-listers like Starhawk and Dragon’s Dogma picked up the slack. The big releases weren’t necessarily the best though, and the Brighton-based independent developer FuturLab earned itself a quiet following with its well-reviewed PlayStation Minis shooter-puzzler Velocity. That inventive downloadable suitably impressed Sony as the company has now contracted FuturLab to help develop some much-needed new content for the ailing PS Vita.

Sony announced on Tuesday morning that it has entered into a one-year partnership with FuturLab that will help fund a swath of new content for the company’s handheld gaming machine. We’re particularly pleased to be working with FuturLab to bring new and exciting games to PlayStation Vita,” said Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s Shahid Ahmad, “FuturLab has a unique and fun approach to entertainment and we see their games as being a fantastic addition to the ever growing catalog of PS Vita games.

While Sony didn’t disclose the exact funding figure, the company did confirm that FuturLab would be compensated in an unusual way for this kind of deal. Unlike most independent developers who receive funding from Sony, FuturLab will keep the rights to their creations.

“Sony has provided a great package that means we retain full control of our IP, which is a perfect deal for us,” said FuturLab’s James Marsden, “We’re incredibly excited to be working closely with PlayStation over the next year, bringing our particular brand of twitchy fun to the PS Vita.”

FuturLab is likely cooking up either a sequel to or a significantly upgraded version of Velocity as its first project. A countdown website was opened by the studio bearing the cryptic message, “You asked for it.” In the background are the aliases of Internet commentators that have asked for a follow up to the game.

At this point in time, any new content for the PS Vita is a good thing, as Sony’s handheld is thirsty for support. While an indie studio with a promising track record is definitely a welcome addition to the Vita-exclusive stable, it’s not the sort of project Sony needs to fund to convince people to actually buy the console. FuturLab will no doubt make an interesting Vita game, but it’s doubtful it will make a system-seller.