PlayStation Mobile to push more 'premium' games than Apple or Google, reckons Albino Pixel

Co-founder Allanson talks Sony strategy

PlayStation Mobile to push more 'premium' games than Apple or Google, reckons Albino Pixel
| Albino Pixel news

Albino Pixel is part of a small, special group: it's one of the studios behind the 20 launch games available on PlayStation Mobile from day one.

The developer's debut PSM release, Underline, launches on a store Sony hopes will bring together mobile and handheld audience, with the marketplace now available on both PS Vita and selected Android devices.

But concerns are already being raised about the platform's profile. Do gamers know what PlayStation Mobile is? And what chance does the store have of attracting consumers and developers alike?

We caught up with Albino Pixel co-founder and technical director Dave Allanson for his impressions so far.

Pocket Gamer: What attracted you to working with PlayStation Mobile? Dave Allanson: Underline was originally being developed for iPhone when I saw a tweet from Shahid Ahmed at Sony saying the firm was looking to work with indie developers for the new PlayStation Mobile store.

The main attraction was that we would be a launch title, which would hopefully give us some pretty decent exposure as a studio and also for when we released the game on other devices at a later date.

On top of this, Sony also offered to help us fund development of Underline for PlayStation Mobile, which meant we could put all our focus and energy in to the game for a period of time.

How did the development of your game go?

Development went quite smoothly; the timescales between signing the deal and the final submission initially seemed very tight, but as the process was painless we didn't end up needing to pull any all nighters.

One thing that helped development was that the SDK is based on Cocos2D, which is what we had initially built the iOS version in, so structurally there was a lot of similarity.

What would you say PlayStation Mobile's role is?

I think PlayStation Mobile's intended role is to be the go to place for premium content.

Google Play, like the iOS store, is saturated with a lot of throwaway products, which definitely doesn't help with visibility. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the months go on and more games are added, but that is my initial impression.

In terms of distinguishing itself from the PlayStation Store, I think in a sense it's great that it's included alongside the current store.

There is a lot of variety on the store already, so I think it's good that it's seen as being part of the store, instead of hidden away like Xbox Live Indie Games, for example.

Some developers have criticised Sony for forcing developers to build their games in C#. What do you make of this decision?

I understand why some developers are opposed to moving across to C#, especially when coming from C++, but if you are coming from something like Obj-C on iOS then its really not that much of an issue, so I think it comes down to preference and complexity of your game.

A lot of people claim C# was the main reason for the slow uptake of developers on Windows Phone 7, but I personally think that was down to the size of the Windows Phone market more than anything else.

Again it will be interesting to see what happens over time.

If you are porting a complex game from C++ to C# then although it is possible it may take you a long time, but if you're developing with PSM in mind or porting an Obj-C or Cocos2D game then C# is a relatively quick language to get to grips with.

Many gamers – and even some developers - have told Pocket Gamer they're unaware what PlayStation Mobile is. Are you worried about the lack of fanfare for the platform's launch?

I am a little worried by the lack of exposure it is getting at the moment, yes, but it is still early days.

Very rarely do you get exposure from Android or Apple when you launch a new game so it's always a worrying time when you release a new product. It's down to us - the developers - and Sony to raise the awareness.

With the press coverage rolling out over the next couple of days with initial thoughts on PlayStation Mobile and the launch titles I think people will soon become aware of it.

What do you make of Sony's decision to house PlayStation Mobile within the existing Store on PS Vita? Is this a good or bad thing for game exposure?

I think this is actually a good thing.

As I alluded to above it's good to not be hidden away somewhere and if it had just been included as another header under games in the PSN store it could have been lost.

As it is, the store is separate, but still feels and looks like it is part of the same store, which is essential for users browsing. In many senses it's easier to find games in the PlayStation Mobile store than it is in the normal games store with all the Vita, Minis, PSP and PS One titles.

What do you make of the layout of the Mobile Store itself? Some have suggested it's a little plain and disengaging, with games simply listed by genre.

I'd say its more simple and intuitive than bland. It works well as an interface for the standard PlayStation Store on PS Vita and if it had been changed too much then users would have had a harder time working out how to use it.

I'm also not sure how else you could break up the games and genres in to a more engaging marketplace.

Time will tell with this though, will it become harder to discover games and browse the store as more titles are released?

This is a problem we are all aware of on iOS and it will be interesting to see how Sony tackles it as the number of games increases.

Will you work on further PlayStation Mobile games in the future?

We are currently prototyping a couple of our own internal concepts, which would also work well on PSM, so there is every chance we will release more titles in the future. Watch this space.

Thanks to Dave for his time.
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.