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All Things PSN with John Hight

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Stephen Totilo of MTV’s Multiplayer gaming blog got a chance to speak to Sony’s product developer, John Hight and discuss what Sony’s PlayStation Network offers to developers, gamers and what it hopes to achieve in the future.

Here are some quotes from the interview which I thought were delightful:

“We’re not afraid to put something out there that might defy the classical definition of what a game is. But we’re damn sure going to make sure it’s a high-quality experience and that it’s an entertaining experience.” That’s Hight, in the midst of extolling to me a PSN line-up that has included the meditative “flOw” and the rock-album-slash-shoot-em-up “Everyday Shooter.” If you haven’t tried PSN yet, Hight’s comment might sound extraordinary, but for someone like me who has downloaded and played all of the games on the service, it rings true. These guys are willing to experiment. And that, quite frankly, is a long way from “Q*bert.”

Quality vs Quantity:

The resulting PSN service hasn’t been overwhelmed with games. It’s not stuffed with the volume of games that are on XBLA, and Hight said that was by design. “We’re very careful about the stuff we add to our catalog. Early on as a company we decided it’s not going to be about giant numbers and ‘Hey, come to PlayStation Network and you’ll have 5000 games, maybe three of which you actually want. Go ahead and find that needle in the haystack.’ It’s more about each one of these experiences is something special.”

Not a big fan of this: 

Hight is conflicted about demos. “That’s a hotly debated thing. We did a demo on ‘Blast Factor‘ and I’ve got 600,000 people playing that demo but I haven’t translated that into 600,000 people buying the game. … I think the demo kind of hurt it in a way and people got satiated. They made a presumption that, ‘oh, ok, the whole game is going to be like this.’ It wasn’t true. The game actually has a lot of depth in each one of the levels. … We didn’t actually do a demo for ‘flOw.’ We did a movie. And it was a very conscious decision. Because we were kind of spooked with what we saw with ‘Blast Factor.’ We thought, wow, we don’t want people to just give up on it. 


“The biggest thing I’ve got going now is about 2 Gig,” he said. That’s 2.5 times the size of “Warhawk,” and more in the ballpark of “GT5 Prologue.” Development priorities also include cooperative multiplayer games. “We tend to emphasize cooperative play over competitive,” Hight said. “It’s not a must-have, but we feel the competitive universe is mostly covered.” 

I adore the PlayStation Network’s downloadable games. I enjoy it for its different gaming experiences from flOw, Super Stardust HD to PixelJunk Monsters; everything from remakes to new concoctions. They’re just things you cannot find anymore — at least not with the level of modern polish. I also appreciate the opportunities to distribute and purchase full games at lower prices. I cannot wait to see what this budding service is going to offer.

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