Sony pegs NGP for “2011” in London, drops mega-details

Friday, 4 February 2011 14:10 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

New information regarding Sony’s NGP emerged in London yesterday during a private presentation to around 20 UK-based developers. According to one of the attendees, Sony outlined its marketing plans for the first five years of the handheld, as well as providing extra details on its hardware specs and networking features.

Extra NGP Details

Sony wants titles that’ll work on both PS3 and NGP.

Uncharted, Little Deviants and WipEout HD shown running in London.

Games run at 60 frames per second.

Both front and back panels capable of six-point multi-touch.

Wi-Fi plus 3G expected “holiday 2011.”

Analysts expect it to retail between $299-$349 in the US.

Q&A – NGP

The developer, speaking anonymously to Eurogamer, said Sony plans to focus on the core during NGP’s first year on the market before changing its focus to “hardcore and teens” during year two. Beyond that, Sony expects the audience to expand into younger and older demographics.

According to the source, development kits weren’t handed out at the event due to “late shipments from Japan,” and that in order for a studio to be given one before April, the team must submit a “20-page concept document on a game they want to release at launch”. Development kits have been in the hands of UK studios for quite some time, but the new kits being described by the source will be the firt ones with “the final GPU in them.”

Titles demoed at the event Uncharted, Little Deviants and WipEout HD, with the source stating the later was running on the game’s PS3 engine with “no changes to the art platform.”

“That means full resolution, full 60 frames per second. It looks exactly the same as it does on PS3 – all the shader effects are in there,” said the source, adding that Sony wants developers to create titles which will work on both PS3 and NGP. In order to streamline this, Sony has made the submission process easier, with only a single submission required for either system; however, the platform holder also doesn’t want “exactly the same game,” on both systems, stating there “has to be a reason for the NGP title,” yet contain interactivity between the two versions with NGP-only extras.

NGP games shown running on the system.

“NGP is a developer’s dream – Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for for years,” said Eurogamer’s source. “All games at launch available on flash [the physical storage medium] would also be on PSN.

“Any shaders for PS3 stuff will just work. We won’t have to rewrite. What would have taken two-to-three months before looks like it could take just one-to-two weeks now. The architecture is obviously different, but it’s the same development environment.

“Sony has made [NGP] completely developer-centric this time. [The development kit] is really simple to plug in and use. It opens direct in Windows Explorer and you can see all systems on a network – so you could, for example, update the firmware of multiple NGPs at once.

“A PS3 dev station can take three hours to set-up. This looks like it will take under 20 mins. It just makes everything easier – they’ve really thought about it this time”.

The source also confirmed that NGP contains three gyroscopes compared to the PS3’s controller, and combined with front and rear touch panels capable of six-point multi-touch, which will allow more accurate movements. Sony demonstrated this by showing a person “squeezing an in-game object,” by pinching the front and back at the same time.

“NGP is a developer’s dream”

“The touch pad on the back is fantastic,” said the source. “It does feel second nature, like you’re having a real impact on the world.”

Social and location-based features were touched on, so were “virtual gifts,” like “new skins and avatars”.

Sony also told attendees that a date and price for the system would be announced soon, and the rumored “cloud saving” feature was not confirmed by SCEE despite being brought up by developers.

NGP was announced last week in Japan, and the general consensus is that it will see a retail release in time for Christmas shopping. During the event, Sony hinted that the Wi-Fi edition would be released this year, and the Wi-Fi plus 3G system would be the one hitting around the holidays.

Earlier today, EEDAR estimated that the Wi-Fi only version would retail in the US between $299 and $349 “but not to exceed $399.”

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