"It's two distinct pipelines, but one common vision of bringing really innovative, different, unique gameplay -- either gameplay mechanics, storyline or innovative visual style, a new level of artistry -- to gaming and exclusively on PSN. We'll do this through Pub Fund and our network of first-party developers." In regards to the latter, Stander's talking about upcoming first-party games on PSN such as Journey and PixelJunk Sidescroller, both due out this year.
But what about Pub Fund? It was a program Sony launched back in 2009, in which the company commits resources to help market the independent developer's game. It doesn't retain any rights to the IP and does not set the price. Games such as Joe Danger and Tales from Space: About a Blob, among others, took advantage of this program.
It's a "bi-directional" conversation, Stander told me, where developers seek out Sony for aid in marketing titles while Sony's internal evaluation group tries to think about what fits best with PlayStation Network. "Our evaluation group is really proactive in seeking out developers who have a really clear vision and an idea of doing something different," Stander said. So it's not entirely about snatching up these games before the competition can, but to also foster original content on Sony's platforms. "The point is that our evaluation group will make sure that we're placing that money into the places that really live up to the vision of the portfolio and really deliver for our consumers."
Of course, it'd be hard to talk to Stander without bringing up the elephant in the room: the PSN outage.
One Pub Fund developer, Firehose Games, undoubtedly felt the full force of that service downtime: it's a small team who put all of its eggs into one basket with Slam Bolt Scrappers, only to have PSN go down mere weeks after debuting. Stander didn't say there would be any safe guards or any kind of insurance should this happen again, but thinks the commitment of resources speaks for itself.
"I think this commitment is a really strong statement, in that we're doubling down and making this $20 million commitment to make the best content available on any console. I think it's a bold statement. We're making a long-term and really big investment over the next three years," Stander concluded.
Update: Slam Bolt Scrappers wasn't actually a Pub Fund game. We apologize for the error.
PLAYSTATION®NETWORK ANNOUNCES MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN EXCLUSIVE GAME DEVELOPMENT
July 13, 2011 – Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) announced today a three-year, $20 million dollar investment plan to support the development of PlayStation®Network exclusive games across our network of first-party studios as well as financial support for the Pub Fund, a unique program for independent developers. This announcement further demonstrates PlayStation Network's commitment to provide quality game experiences that cannot be found on any other video game console. PlayStation Network has had great success with their line of exclusive titles, with several among the highest rated on the platform, including Joe Danger, Critter Crunch, Flower and the PixelJunk series.
Originally announced at the Game Developers Conference in 2009, the Pub Fund program provides additional development budget for developers who create innovative, exclusive titles for PlayStation Network. SCEA helps with game design and marketing plans but allows the developer to own the game's intellectual property, publish the title and set the price. The first game developed and released under this model was Burn, Zombie, Burn!, and the program continues to gain traction with the independent developers behind the upcoming Eufloria and Okabu as well as the highly anticipated Papo & Yo, which garnered several accolades at the recent E3 Expo.
"PlayStation Network is poised to deliver an enviable line-up of exclusive and imaginative games this year, with highly anticipated first-party titles like thatgamecompany's Journey and PixelJunk Sidescroller," said Brandon Stander, director of PlayStation Network marketing, SCEA. "We're doubling down on PlayStation Network software, and under this additional investment over the next three years, we anticipate a steady flow of high-quality titles that can't be found anywhere else."
Upcoming PlayStation Network exclusive titles that are a part of this innovative portfolio include:
Eufloria is an addictive ambient game of space exploration and conquest, plant growth and bio mechanical evolution, where players can conquer asteroids in deep space and use their resources to literally grow and nurture semi-organic plants and creatures to do your bidding.
Okabu is a brand-new action-puzzler from the creators of Rolando, where players will guide Kumulo, Nimbe and four cloud-flying heroes as they battle to save their people and their world from the industrialized threat of the Doza. Gamers will dive into a hyper-tactile toybox world filled with a huge number of puzzles, playthings, adorable creatures and devious machines spread across an epic co-op campaign.
PAYDAY: The Heist is an action-filled first-person shooter game that lets players take on the role of a hardened career criminal executing intense, dynamic heists in constant pursuit of the next "big score". Players will navigate diverse urban settings with three partners in crime-controlled by either AI or in co-op multiplayer-and will load out with an array of weaponry and equipment as they embark on a spectacular crime spree through six high-stake heists, including banks robberies, prisoner extractions and armored car hijackings.
Papo & Yo is a vibrant, 3D Puzzle-Platforming Adventure coming to PlayStation Network in 2012. As a young boy named Quico, players will travel through a magical, surrealist world, solving puzzles with the help of a huge creature named Monster who has a dangerous problem: he's addicted to poisonous frogs. The minute he spies one, he'll scarf it down and fly into a violent, frog-induced rage where no one, including his best friend Quico, is safe. Players will have to learn to use Monster's varying emotions to their advantage if they want to find a cure and save their pal.