PS3: Prime Venue for MMOs?

PS3: Prime Venue for MMOs?

MMOs are a PC gaming staple, but Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley wants MMOs to find a home on the living room TV.

He recently told MTV Multiplayer that all forthcoming SOE MMOs would appear not only on PC, but also on Sony consoles. We caught up with Smedley this week to dig deeper into SOE’s console ambitions.

We saw recent reports that SOE will be bringing its MMOs to consoles from here on out. Can you give some more background on that?

It’s very simple. We believe very strongly that the future of our MMOs will be taking the titles in development–and we have more in development than we have announced, I will say that–and doing them across PC and PlayStation 3. We believe the console market’s ready for MMOs.

When doing a game across PC and console, doesn’t each platform have to make some design sacrifices in order to find a happy medium between both so that a game works acceptably?

Not at all. The reason I say that is because we’re making very deliberate choices when developing a game. For example, in the case of  The Agency, I think it’s very unlikely that we’ll have PC and PS3 joint play, simply because we’re making a PC game and we’re making a PS3 game, and they’ll have very different control settings.

Even though your core character can be played on either one, we’re not willing to make sacrifices on the PC to accommodate PS3 controls, and vice versa.

So it’ll be something where you’ll have a different UI from version to version.

Absolutely. We definitely will be having a different UI. If you look at DC Universe Online, it’s a much more action-oriented game, and how you control with a mouse and WASD is going to be very different from a PS3 controller, but we want to make sure it’s a good experience for both.

Will there be any console-exclusive titles on PS3, or will they all be multiplatform with PC?

At the moment, we’re only developing multiplatform. We’re not doing anything just PS3. Could that change? Yes. I think right now our pipeline is pretty full, and we just don’t happen to have anything like that at the moment.

We’re seeing formerly PC-centric companies like id and Epic say that their business decisions rely quite heavily on consoles. Granted, they’re in different genres, but do you see that happening with SOE?

I just don’t see it going as far that way for us simply because the online gaming market is so big worldwide and there are many countries like China and Korea where the market is still very dominated by PC. So that’s not really a business decision that we can make at this point.

What about MMOs on PSP?

We’re excited by the PSP market in general—it’s really quite large, and it’s a really good connected device. What we’re thinking about doing is building out aspects of the MMOs we have in development for PSP. For example, in our game Free Realms, we have a pet system. We think it’d be great to bring your pets along separately on the PSP, and interact with them differently than you would on PC. Then you connect your PSP with your PC and your pet has learned new tricks. That’s the sort of thing we’re talking about.

Down the line, I think the PSP is actually good enough to have an MMO designed specifically for the PSP too.

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