LGF 08: Sony's Jamie MacDonald on Little Big Planet, Home

Vice president for worldwide development predicts SCE will soon be a service provider, not a product provider.

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At the London Games Festival's Games 3.0 conference, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios vice president Jamie MacDonald took to the stage to present his take on social gaming. As the man in charge of SCE's London and Cambridge studios, he certainly knows about the topic, having been involved with games such as EyeToy, SingStar, The Getaway, Heavenly Sword, and current industry darling Little Big Planet.

Before social gaming became a common term, MacDonald said he used to describe his SCE titles as "games for the 21st century." He went on to call Media Molecule's Little Big Planet a "landmark" game, believing that it "points to the future of social gaming." One of the key features of the game is the ability for users to customize their own characters and levels, but just how popular will its user content tools be? "I expect the user-created levels to absolutely balloon once the title's out," he continued. However, MacDonald did concede that it was "hard to guess how it will affect the industry in the long run. Where it leads I'm not really sure."

When it comes to the business of developing games, MacDonald singled out talented staff as one of the most important factors. "The best way to create titles and great consumer experiences is to hire the best people," and give them a good environment to work in, he said. "That's what we did with Media Molecule."

In addition to Little Big Planet, MacDonald also took the time to plug SCE Studio London's upcoming PlayStation Home, a hub that will let users meet, chat, and play games. Its emergence, at least according to MacDonald, was down to a frustration with current online experiences that he described as "geeky, tedious, and short," and the driving force was an environment that, although games-focused, wasn't centred on teenage boys. "From a SCE point of view, it's something we haven't done before, [and] it will continue to evolve and develop over time."

The worldwide studios exec ended his session by describing SCE's future as "becoming service providers almost, not product providers." Despite this, and the increase of downloadable content including song packs for SingStar, MacDonald concluded that SCE "will continue making discs for the foreseeable future," exclusively for its own platforms. When asked about competition from Activision's Guitar Hero series, MacDonald said, "Actually it's great. That means more people are into [that kind of] experience."

The London Games Festival continues until November 2, with events happening across the British capital.

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