Sony lowers bar for PlayStation 4 development with Unity partnership

Sony's game division said it will release new PlayStation develeopment tools that make it easier to port games to its systems

Sony has formed a partnership with software firm Unity to make it easier for developers to create and port titles for PlayStation consoles, including the upcoming PS4.

Sony Computer Entertainment, the company's game division, said Friday that it will offer a new suite of development tools for the PlayStation platform from fall. The "Unity for PlayStation" offering will allow programmers to quickly port existing games to the PS4, PS3, handheld Vita, as well as the PlayStation Mobile platform for third-party Android phones.

The company said the new platform will also support the development of cloud-based games, which are expected to be a major part of the offerings available for the PS4 when it is released later this year.

Sony said Friday that it formed a strategic partnership with Unity on March 15. Unity Technologies, based in San Francisco, offers cross-platform development software that aims to use a single code base to create content for multiple environments.

The company is keen to avoid the weak launches that have plagued recent game consoles, including its own handheld PlayStation Vita, when it offers the PlayStation 4 to consumers later this year. The Vita, as well as Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS handheld, have all disappointed due to a shortage of compelling game titles and increased competition from cheaper games that run on tablets and smartphones.

A partnership with Unity will make it easier for developers to release games for Sony platforms without the major investment that comes from coding them from scratch. But it also means that Sony will give up exclusivity for such titles, increasing competition with other platforms.

The Japanese electronics giant said that games developed using the new platform will be made available to consumers via the PlayStation Store, its online game shop.

Sony said the new Unity development platform will also be able to port games to its PlayStation Mobile platform, from existing iOS and Android games. PlayStation Mobile is Sony's gaming platform for Android-based devices made by outside manufacturers.

The company is attempting to woo both hardware makers and game developers to the program, a departure from its traditional console business where it charges developers for the right to make and sell PlayStation software. All software must be approved by the company, and will only run on devices it has certified, which include its own tablets, phones and the Vita, as well as devices from Sharp, HTC, and Asus.

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