The PlayStation Suite could be the single most important thing to happen to the PS Vita. Peter’s already said this, of course, but it’s worth looking at again as the development tools move into an open beta next month, backed up with a strong GDC showing last week.
If you’re not familiar with PSS, it’s a cross platform development studio aimed at Android devices that are PlayStation Certified. And, interestingly, PS Vita. With it, the handheld could play host to apps and games that normally grace smartphones and tablets, massively increasing the Vita’s appeal, especially in-between the sorts of release lulls we’re experiencing now.
In short, Sony are promising much quicker review and approval turnaround times than they’ve ever done with PSN, applications built with PSS will just need a single global submission and developers can set their own pricing, in addition to being able to use the PSN/SEN system and the PSN wallets.[drop2]Sony’s GDC presentation tellingly labels PSS as an “application store” model with an open development environment and a focus on ‘casual games’, targeting everyone from homebrew coders to professionals, with C# as the primary programming language.
The SDK will allow programs to run on a virtual machine, supported by all PS Certified devices, and will also feature 3D graphics libraries and a ‘UI toolkit’ so that non-game apps look and feel similar. Publishing is designed to be super easy – ‘one button’ – with Sony saying that in-game ads aren’t allowed, but they’ll take a cut of all sales, which is fairly obvious.
Games and apps will be available via a separate storefront on the PS Store.
Developers can look forward to getting their hands on the PSS from April this year as the SDK hits version 0.98, without a license fee, and will even allow apps to be “fully testable” on PS Vita (there’s also a PC simulator). The full SDK, later this year, will require an annual $99 license fee.
Anyone interested can sign up for email notifications here, where a PDF of the PSS slides can also be downloaded.