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Third Party Finds Sony’s Claims of Superior Developer Support Over Microsoft “Laughable”

September 29, 2011Written by Josh Lewis

Earlier this month, Sony Computer Entertainment America’s SVP of Publisher Relations Rob Dyer, shared his opinion regarding Microsoft’s Content Submission and Release policy. He claimed that Microsoft was protecting their “inferior technology” by demanding content is the same across all platforms, even though the PS3 Blu-ray drive is capable of holding far more content than a standard DVD. A former Vivendi employee (from three-plus years ago) has allegedly shared some details that suggest that the situtation is actually quite the opposite, with Sony’s support faltering in many areas when compared to Microsoft.

Speaking about Sony’s third party developer support, the anonymous former Vivendi employee told Industry Gamers:

I’d say any comment by Sony that they have better developer relations or fewer insane hurdles is laughable. The TRC/TCRs [technical requirements checklist or technical certification requirements – Ed.] for the PS2 and PS3 were so much worse than anything needed for the Xbox 360 — the cases themselves were written confusingly, but the real clincher was that they weren’t even consistent between SoJ, SoE, and SoA. You could fail a lot check because of a space (or lack of a space) between the text ‘PlayStation 2 Memory Card’ and the text ‘(8 MB)’. SoE and SoA had different requirements (one mandated that there be a space, one mandated that there be no space), and each of them had to be perfect.

He continued:

Additionally, I heard a lot of horror stories about the PS3 dev tools, and our launch-title devs got absolutely no support from Sony itself when they needed it – up to and including Sony calling one of our developers liars when we said their networking code wasn’t working for our game, and it was a problem with their system (note: without any changes on our end, it suddenly started to work great after one of their pre-launch updates — though they still didn’t acknowledge that it had ever been their fault).

The anonymous source also shared details concerning Microsoft support:

In contrast, the Xbox tools and support were always excellent, and the TCRs and supplementary FTCs [functional test cases – Ed.] were much easier to read, understand, implement, and test. They were also much more lenient about what was acceptable in a lot check, or making exceptions when it made sense to do so. I’ve heard Sony has greatly improved their tools support for development and testing, though I believe they’re still lagging behind what the Xbox 360 had available at launch.

Some concerns regarding pricing were also shared:

I don’t recall Sony PS3 Dev Kits being cheap (our test boxes were something like $10,000 each, and the actual development kits were significantly more), or anything like the Developer Net attached to XBLA / XNA allowing anyone to just jump into development with a low overhead cost. Things may have changed, but it still seems pretty funny to me that they could possibly try to call themselves always the better chance for small developers to get in, or some sort of indy safe-haven.

The two platform holders publishing policies obviously both have their ups and downs, with both Sony and Microsoft wanting to provide great content to their consumer base. Perhaps, in the end, it is up to the development community to weigh the strengths of both to decide which direction they want to take, something that generally ends up being both.