During a presentation at E3 that was attended by Eurogamer, Halldor Fannar, CTO of CCP, explained why their upcoming online shooter Dust 514 would be exclusive to the PlayStation 3. In a word: openness.
“Let’s just say that with Sony at least they have policies that allow us to build the game the way we want. That is one of the reasons why we’ve gone with PSN.”
Mr. Fannar went on to explain that with the PlayStation Network, they’re able to run their servers, and Sony is allowing them to keep to their expansion cycle. Summing it up, he stated that “(they’re) using PlayStation just for credentials, stuff like that. Then it’s all our stuff.”
Dust 514 will be directly integrated with PC MMO Eve Online, which is impossible under Microsoft’s strictly enforced infrastructure. Microsoft’s insistence on their closed network has caused friction with MMO developers in the past. Square Enix and Cryptic scuttled plans in 2010 for Xbox versions of Final Fantasy XIV and Champions Online, respectively. Meanwhile, Sony has allowed other developers to use their PlayStation Network as a way-point of sorts, most notably Valve’s Steam, which is fully integrated with Portal 2 and supports cross-platform play.
Analysis: Honestly? It’s almost refreshing to see a company who is courageous enough to see what happened to the PSN and then say “you know what? Damn the torpedoes. We’re going for it.” It’s important to note that there’s so far no PC version of Dust 514, which is interesting for a game that ties into a PC based MMO.
Honestly, this is as exciting to me as Steam integration with the PS3 is. Even if the systems themselves are in their infancy, the potential for systems that get the most out of Sony’s free PlayStation Network is there. As a gamer, it excites me because it brings us one step closer to a console/PC singularity, where console games have the options that make PC games – on their surface – preferable to play, without the cost of keeping a gaming-ready PC up to date, which can run thousands. The first system that allows us to play FPS games with a mouse and keyboard is the first system I will play FPS games on.1 Furthermore, the thought of playing Portal 2 on my PC with Aileen on her PS3 is sexy.
This is about Sony’s willingness to open their network, and Microsoft blithely insisting that everyone play by their rules, or don’t play. Microsoft’s tactics – which are normal for a company that has made an empire out of locking customers into their products with no way out that doesn’t involve massive sunk costs, then monetizing that lock-in – work for them because even if they lose an MMO or two, they’re still making money off of everyone else who uses their network to play Gears of War, Call of Duty and everything else. Considering the numbers those games pull in, it’s working. But if Sony can leverage their openness in a way that results in people jumping ship for clearly superior games (Portal 2 is decidedly inferior on the 360 when compared to the 360), and if they can keep their stuff from being hacked for an hour or so, they can maybe start to turn the tables, and get past the whole hacking business.