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Unity fix to PlayStation 4’s biggest problem

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia’s Director of Developer Relations, Koji Tada, sheds light on the strategic importance of Unity, Sony's new set of development tools which will allow PC and mobile phone game developers to easily bring their games to PlayStation platforms.

SINGAPORE: These days, Koji Tada, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia’s Director of Developer Relations, is a very busy man.

He has his hands full getting the word out on what he describes as one of Sony’s “most important” projects to date sharing - the new Unity game development support system – that’s on par in importance to the launch of the company’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) gaming console.

Just what is it about Unity that makes it so important to Sony?

Speaking on the sidelines of the recent Casual Connect 2014 game developer conference in Singapore, Tada revealed that Unity is a set of development tools which allows PC and mobile phone game developers to “easily port their games to the PlayStation platforms” as well as develop games for the PlayStation consoles.

At a glance, it doesn’t sound very exciting.

Dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that Unity could be the perfect answer to the PS4 and PlayStation Vita’s (PSV) biggest weakness – an anemic library of games.

“Triple A (big-budget) titles are released every two months or so. But we want to gain as many titles as possible, as quickly as possible.

“We don’t want gamers to go ‘Hey, there are no games to play on the PlayStation’,” said Tada.

By making it easier for developers to port their games over and create games for the PlayStation consoles, Sony hopes “gamers will get more games” as a result, and make the PlayStation consoles a more attractive purchase.

Indie games and ports will fill the gaps between these big releases and make sure gamers always have something to keep them occupied on the PlayStation consoles.

However, Tada said this doesn’t mean that the PS4 and the PSV will have game lineups made up of ports and little else.

“Making it easier for these developers (to port their games) … could also encourage them to develop games specifically for the PlayStation consoles in the future,” he explained.

One of the highlights of Unity, added Tada, is its strong focus on giving indie developers the chance to freely develop games for the PSV and PSV TV.

Indie developers can use Unity to create games for PlayStation Mobile, and these games can be playable on PS Vita and PS Vita TV.

In addition, developers that already have Unity Basic or Pro can distribute these games without any additional license fee through the Sony Entertainment Network store for now, but this may change in the future.

Indie developers will essentially have a free hand to produce any sort of game they want.

Although Tada concedes that this could result in “some” mediocre games being released, he feels it is important to let gamers decide what they want to play.

“We could easily say we’ll pull the game from the store if we think it’s bad, but we wanted to give gamers the freedom to choose,” said Tada, pointing out that indie developers could “give gamers new, unique experiences” if they are given enough space to work with.

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