The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Game platform smackdown at GamesBeat

March 24, 2009 |  5:09 pm
Sony PSP
PlayStation Portable, Sony's hand-held console. Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment.

Which platform is better for games: Facebook, PlayStation Network or Apple's iPhone?

If you ask Neil Young, chief executive of Ngmoco in San Francisco, he'll say it's the iPhone, with its 30 million users and Apple's formidable App Store. "I've made games for every console out there, and the iPhone wins hands down," Young said at the GamesBeat conference today.

Gareth Davis, the program manager for games at Facebook, argues that his social networking website is the best way to reach millions of players within weeks. The site is home to about 5,000 games, the vast majority of which are free to play. Publishers make money from the ads that run in their applications, as well as from charging players for added features or virtual bling.

But it's been challenging for publishers whose Facebook games aren't in the top 10 to make money. To help, and possibly generate some revenue of its own (if it decides to take a cut), the Palo Alto company is mulling over the possibility of introducing a universal Facebook currency that players could use to buy content from multiple publishers, as opposed to having to fork over their credit card each time they buy virtual goods or additional game levels. That could help boost impulse buys.

For developers who want to get paid for their games, Sony offers PlayStation Network. The developers of one game, Pixel Junk Eden, made back their investment within 24 hours of going on sale on the service, said Susan Panico, senior director of PSN, which sells more than 180 games for download to its PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable devices.

-- Alex Pham