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Sir Toby

Unity Getting licensed to develop a PlayStation Network game for the PS3.

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Sir Toby    104
Myself and a friend want to develop a game for the PlayStation 3 that we want to release on the PlayStation Network. We have no game development experience, but we do have several years of professional software development experience. I've done some preliminary research into getting licensed for developing for the PlayStation 3 and it looks like it is a significant hurdle to overcome for a team with no experience.

This is the application form I've found:

https://www.tpr.scea.com/AreaNewLicensee/MainSystem/CFModules/ScreenLayout/nl_master_template.cfm

They want information like the "softography of our team" which we don't have because we have no game development experience.

I've also found the following posts on GameDev.Net:

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=527419
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=586211

In short, almost everything I read tells me that getting licensed for the PlayStation 3 is nearly impossible for a team with no experience.

At the same time, I see this article on Gamasutra about how easy it is to develop games for the PlayStation Network:

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17707

I am also aware of some games from independent developers that have shown up on the PlayStation network, such as Everyday Shooter.

My question is: How difficult is it to get licensed to develop a PlayStation Network game for the PS3? Me and my friend are willing to jump through whatever hurdles are necessary to get licensed. We have the $1200 to buy a debug PlayStation 3. We will register a company. We will make a company web site. We will get office space.

The only hurdle we can't jump quickly is getting game development experience. If this is a deal breaker, then we will simply move elsewhere. I know there are game platforms that are more open: the XBox XNA program, iPhone/iPad, Android, the PC. Heck, even Google TV (an extension of the Android platform) is an up and coming gaming platform we are considering. While we really want to target the PlayStation 3, we will select another platform to get started with if we have to.

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frob    44919
They want to know that you will be able to finish the game and bring it to market.

Bringing a product to market is EXPENSIVE. There is a significant cost that the companies will contractually require to protect their IP, to protect their brands, and to make sure your games meet some minimum quality standards.

Development is not cheap. Normally you need to pay for salaries, which is the biggest expense, and facilities and utilities, which are also expensive. Even if you are independantly wealthy working from your private mansion with no development costs, you'll need to lease devkits for a few tens of thousands of dollars (these is relatively small cost, all things considered). You'll need to prove that you have a secure facility. If your game is online multiplayer you will need to demonstrate a secure networking infrastructure, probably also need it for PSN development. You'll need to jump through several legal hurdles and contracts, be prepared to write your lawyer a big check.


During the process they will also require documentation of your business finances.

Before you release, they will require documentation that you passed certain amounts of dedicated QA on your own (which can be expensive), and then they will do their own QA the game (at the expense of your game submission fees). You will need to jump through various legal hurdles. Your game will need to be rated by at least one ratings organization for the regions you want. Most games require multiple submissions as issues are found or technical requirements are not completely met, or just because the tester was grumpy that day and decided to cite you for something that isn't required. Combined it is a six-digit cost, easily passing a half million dollars if there are problems.

If you cannot demonstrate up front that you can pay for all of that, don't expect a license.


It is not something two programmers are likely to afford by themselves without financial backing.

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skytiger    294
Microsoft DBP 2011 has been announced - design a very simple game with lots of eye candy and good sound effects and music, win that competition, get the $40,000 - and then go from there.

In my experience developing video games is 20 times harder than writing business software.

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doesnotcompute    262
Regarding the tens of thousands of dollars for dev kits, I think the point is you're supposed to be able to develop for PSN on a Debug PS3 which is much cheaper, and if I recall they have a free engine and asset pipeline they give to licensed PSN developers.

Regarding Dream Build Play, don't expect to be competitive unless your game is a 2D side-scroller :)

Edit: At the OP, I think one thing you may have a problem with (in addition to getting licensed:) is art assets, unless one or both of you is an artist.

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Nairb    766
Quote:
In short, almost everything I read tells me that getting licensed for the PlayStation 3 is nearly impossible for a team with no experience.


It's difficult even for a team *with* experience. Read everything frob said. It would be beneficial to make a friend at Sony - a business contact within the company is incredibly valuable and can (with the appropriate hoop jumping) potentially provide you with more information than anyone in this forum is legally permitted to give.

Quote:
Microsoft DBP 2011 has been announced - design a very simple game with lots of eye candy and good sound effects and music, win that competition, get the $40,000 - and then go from there.


If only it were that easy. :-) Have you taken a look at the DBP winners? The 2009 winner (Dust) is absurdly well done. The 2010 winner (Lumi) is also gorgeous and polished to death. Quality like that takes large amounts of time and effort and talent, and there's serious competition.

Plus if you develop for DBP, you've locked yourself out of PS3 by virtue of dev environment alone - DBP pretty much requires XNA/C#, which do not exist for the PS3 (to my knowledge - maybe someone has ported C#). If you want to go that route, you're better just to target Xbox/PC.

Quote:
The only hurdle we can't jump quickly is getting game development experience. If this is a deal breaker, then we will simply move elsewhere. I know there are game platforms that are more open: the XBox XNA program, iPhone/iPad, Android, the PC. Heck, even Google TV (an extension of the Android platform) is an up and coming gaming platform we are considering. While we really want to target the PlayStation 3, we will select another platform to get started with if we have to.


Moving to any of those platforms is an option, but be realistic in your expectations. You're unlikely to spend 3 years developing for Android and come away ready to make a PS3 game - there are similarities, but there's a pretty big gap between making a cell phone game and making a console title. If you create something with XNA, you will have a considerably difficult time moving it to another console later.

PC is OK in terms of preparation for PS3 dev, but it's extremely hard to make money as a PC dev while doing it. Not impossible... but hard. Actually it's hard any route you go - you've got an uphill struggle.

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skytiger    294
I see your point, write a game that is less polished than Dust, targetting an environment which is 5 times harder and 5 times slower to develop for than X360/XNA, with little to no hope of selling the game, and no way to even demo the game to people unless they have a Debug PS3, and no possiblity of a bonus $40,000 either. Good plan.

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nfries88    1154
If I remember correctly, "PSP mini" development license was only $1.5k. There's a few big restrictions on this too -- basically you need to already have a good product under your belt, be a company, and when you make your PSP-based game the finished thing will need to be under 100MB [this isn't terribly unreasonable, but games heavy on sound or a rich set of graphics may have trouble -- zlib or another compression library can help though].

I'm going to say this as bluntly as possible: a teenager from a middle-class family would require nothing short of a miracle to get a product onto a major console (aside for maybe homebrew development). The level of professionalism, dedication, and productivity that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will be looking for is well beyond what any American teenager I've met in my life (and I went to both public and private high school) is capable of.

For now, this is my advice:
Stick with iPhone and Android apps. Develop some skill, get some money (to feed into development later), and perhaps run into a few other capable people who share your ideals. After a few** successful releases you will probably have earned enough to pay the fees required to make yourself a legitimate company***.

Develop open-source software. This will NOT likely help you with the submission process, but I recommend it anyway. The advantages to open-source software are well known -- peer reviewed code****, free use rights*****, among others. If you are going to forgo getting a degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Game Design; this is the best way to become a better programmer. Hell, I suggest it to anyone working towards those degrees too -- sometimes the best theory is not the most practical, and it's better to learn early.


** - Nobody buys apps that cost more than $5. Well, some people do, but they're few and far between. So, it'll take a few hundred purchases before you can get to the next step.
*** - The fees to start a business aren't huge. The fees to make it look legitimate to an outsider (website, logos, trademarks, office location) add up quickly, and some of them will require consistent payment for upkeep.
**** - Every open source programming community has a handful of gurus (some developing since the 80s, some born in the 80s, but gurus nonetheless) that will help you to become a better programmer, much more than an online tutorial or a book about learning to program in under a month****** would. This is the advantage of peer review while you are learning to program.
***** - It is unlikely that there is a single flawless piece of software in existence. I believe it was Tanenbaum (developer of Minix, the operating system that inspired Torvalds to make Linux) who suggested that even in the best case every thousand lines or so of code has a flaw. Getting feedback from people using your project will help you to learn to avoid flaws in code.
****** - Teach yourself programming in 21 days? Try 10 years. http://norvig.com/21-days.html

Hope I was able to help.

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doesnotcompute    262
Quote:
Original post by nfries88
If I remember correctly, "PSP mini" development license was only $1.5k. There's a few big restrictions on this too -- basically you need to already have a good product under your belt, be a company, and when you make your PSP-based game the finished thing will need to be under 100MB [this isn't terribly unreasonable, but games heavy on sound or a rich set of graphics may have trouble -- zlib or another compression library can help though].

I'm going to say this as bluntly as possible: a teenager from a middle-class family would require nothing short of a miracle to get a product onto a major console (aside for maybe homebrew development). The level of professionalism, dedication, and productivity that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will be looking for is well beyond what any American teenager I've met in my life (and I went to both public and private high school) is capable of.

For now, this is my advice:
Stick with iPhone and Android apps. Develop some skill, get some money (to feed into development later), and perhaps run into a few other capable people who share your ideals. After a few** successful releases you will probably have earned enough to pay the fees required to make yourself a legitimate company***.

Develop open-source software. This will NOT likely help you with the submission process, but I recommend it anyway. The advantages to open-source software are well known -- peer reviewed code****, free use rights*****, among others. If you are going to forgo getting a degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Game Design; this is the best way to become a better programmer. Hell, I suggest it to anyone working towards those degrees too -- sometimes the best theory is not the most practical, and it's better to learn early.


** - Nobody buys apps that cost more than $5. Well, some people do, but they're few and far between. So, it'll take a few hundred purchases before you can get to the next step.
*** - The fees to start a business aren't huge. The fees to make it look legitimate to an outsider (website, logos, trademarks, office location) add up quickly, and some of them will require consistent payment for upkeep.
**** - Every open source programming community has a handful of gurus (some developing since the 80s, some born in the 80s, but gurus nonetheless) that will help you to become a better programmer, much more than an online tutorial or a book about learning to program in under a month****** would. This is the advantage of peer review while you are learning to program.
***** - It is unlikely that there is a single flawless piece of software in existence. I believe it was Tanenbaum (developer of Minix, the operating system that inspired Torvalds to make Linux) who suggested that even in the best case every thousand lines or so of code has a flaw. Getting feedback from people using your project will help you to learn to avoid flaws in code.
****** - Teach yourself programming in 21 days? Try 10 years. http://norvig.com/21-days.html

Hope I was able to help.


I don't think the OP is an American middle-class teenager, rather a professional (non-games) software developer, so I'm not sure how much of your advice applies.

To the OP, I'm in a similar situation (somewhat more game development experience though). I think it's probably unreasonable to expect that you can get directly into PS3 development like this. iOS/mobile development is probably the easiest way to get some experience and make some money in the process, but as Nairb mentioned PC development is probably more applicable to console development.

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nfries88    1154
Quote:
Original post by doesnotcompute
I don't think the OP is an American middle-class teenager, rather a professional (non-games) software developer, so I'm not sure how much of your advice applies.

To the OP, I'm in a similar situation (somewhat more game development experience though). I think it's probably unreasonable to expect that you can get directly into PS3 development like this. iOS/mobile development is probably the easiest way to get some experience and make some money in the process, but as Nairb mentioned PC development is probably more applicable to console development.


The post was really oriented at anyone who comes across this topic -- afterall, it has been my dream to develop games since I played the original Legend of Zelda on the NES, I've done my research, made my attempts, and even lost hope for short periods.

The portion about iPhone/Android games still applies to him, though. It's a good way to show your ability to produce a good, profitable game and that you're able to work on very different systems (the differences between the iPhone and Android are much larger than the differences between Windows, Linux, and Mac when it comes to development). Nairb is probably right that PC game development is probably more applicable to developing for non-handhelds, though.
The bit about starting a legitimate company and the associated expenses also applies.
The part about open source software doesn't really apply (well, depends on what his experience is -- he's never written games before, so he probably has no experience with any 3D graphics libraries or formats, so it may help him to toy around with OGRE or Irrlicht3D to get familiar with concepts; not so much in writing the software or learning from coding gurus though).

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frob    44919
Quote:
Original post by nfries88
The post was really oriented at anyone who comes across this topic -- afterall, it has been my dream to develop games since I played the original Legend of Zelda on the NES, I've done my research, made my attempts, and even lost hope for short periods.

The portion about iPhone/Android games still applies to him, though. It's a good way to show your ability to produce a good, profitable game and that you're able to work on very different systems (the differences between the iPhone and Android are much larger than the differences between Windows, Linux, and Mac when it comes to development). Nairb is probably right that PC game development is probably more applicable to developing for non-handhelds, though.
The bit about starting a legitimate company and the associated expenses also applies.

The differences between the systems and the OP are huge.

Phone and PDA development is cheap. The development time is generally short, measured in days or weeks for individuals. There are minimal technical requirements. Putting your game in an app store is inexpensive. There is fairly little cost necessary for marketing. You can make a game for a few thousand dollars total cost, or have other people make it (in a business) for a few tens of thousand.

Console development is expensive. Development time is long, measured in work-years for multiple teams. There is a long list of technical requirements. There are extensive licensing requirements, ratings requirements, and regulatory requirements. Assuming you stop there with a PSN game, the cost approaches or more likely surpasses a million dollar mark depending on the game.

Putting physical copies of your game in every retail store (Walmart, Toys-R-Us, Target, GameStop, Amazon, ...) is very expensive both for the physical boxes and getting the shelf space contracts. Marketing campaigns are necessarily expensive in order to help generate enough sales to recover the costs. You cannot do it yourself, and it will cost multiple millions of dollars from beginning to end.

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doesnotcompute    262
I worked at a company that made games for Nintendo DS where projects routinely went from start to finish in a year, with teams of around 10 (granted there were other company resources they had available like QA, IT support, etc). PSN is not meant to be for giant AAA projects like MW2 or Halo, plus Sony is supposed to provide some tools (like an engine and asset exporters) to help you get started. My (probably naive) assessment is that a small team probably could put something together in around a year, assuming they weren't trying to hold down day jobs at the same time. Just 2 programmers though finishing a project like this is probably unreasonable. And of course independent of any of this, is whether you could convince Sony to make you a licensed developer.

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