With 4,5 million sales of PS5 consoles in 2020, Sony proves that it doesn’t plan to leave the competition of major gaming platforms anywhere in the foreseeable future. The market is highly competitive now and Sony already does a lot of activities to attract not just players, but also game creators to be present on their platform. So the question “How to bring your game to PlayStation” will be highly relevant in the nearest decade.
In this article, we will share some of the key things you need to know about if you plan to develop and publish your game on PlayStation.
Sony Interactive Entertainment has 3 major regional offices in Europe (SIEE), America (SIEA), and Japan (SIEJ). If you plan to release your game in one of those regions (or in all of them), you need to establish your connection with the corresponding regional office.
Each of them is an autonomous company, so interacting with each of them often looks like submitting a new game to Sony. Certifications, age ratings, prices, and support activities vary for each regional office.
This process is time-consuming and requires a lot of legal stuff for a company to follow. Publishers often help to make this process faster.
Devkit is an installable package of all the software and hardware you need for console game development. You’ll need access to devkit or your own devkit to publish a game on PlayStation Store. There are two general ways game developers interact with devkits:
1 — making a deal with the publisher.
Publishers often provide developers with the devkits or at least remote access to the devkits. This is a good option if you’re developing your first PlayStation game — you get the hardware, SDKs, and access to the necessary documentation without having to buy and certify for your own devkit. But if you plan to develop more than one PlayStation title, it may bring problems because in this case, you have to care about where to get the devkit for every game you’re working with.
2 — buying your own devkit.
Owning a devkit allows you to develop games for a console as long as it’s supported by Sony. In order to get one, you’ll have to apply for the Sony development program. An application form is very detailed and Sony often updates it, so stay tuned with the latest changes.
If you’re planning to work with the physical copy of the devkit, mind the time for delivering it. Sony is very strict in terms of delivering devkits, especially to the post-Soviet countries.
We recommend having at least 2 devkits for every console you’re working with. If you only have one devkit and it’s broken, you’re at risk of spending a lot of unnecessary time dealing with Sony warranty services, which are also very strict. And remember: you can’t publish your game without access to a fully functional devkit.
Once you’re settled with the regional office, you’ll need to take a few steps to prove that your game belongs on PlayStation. At first, contact the platform executive you’ll need to share your Game Design Document (GDD) to prove that you actually have a game. Write it in as many details as possible.
If your GDD passes this stage, you get access to the platform plugins for your game engine. This will help to build your game for PlayStation.
The next important step is confirming your software licenses. If you’re using a lot of third-party plugins in your game, you’ll need the console to support these plugins.
The problem is that the majority of plugins are provided with no sources. In this case, you have two options:
1 — if the plugin developer supports the console, you can ask for the sources. In most cases, you’ll also need to confirm your developer status.
2 — if the plugin doesn’t support the console, you’ll need to rewrite your code and use technologies that fit the console. This may be very expensive and time-consuming, so make sure it’s worth the resources.
This is usually the biggest part of the publishing to PlayStation store process.
Technical Requirements Checklist (TRC) is a set of rules by Sony that a game creator should follow to be certified for the platform. Getting TRC is an iterative testing process that requires a lot of work from the QA team and management communications.
TRCs requirements usually cover things like:
- Necessary technologies
Sony often has a set of technological solutions you need to implement in your game to get certified. It is often related to optimizing and proper compatibility with the PlayStation ecosystem;
- Console hardware compatibility
One of the main purposes of the TRC process is to get your game to be enjoyable on PlayStation hardware. Make sure it’s well optimized for all the planned systems and the experience of playing with DualShock or Dual Sense controllers is at its highest. Pay special attention to online features. if your game has any.
- Sony FQA
Sony also implements Functionality Quality Assurance (FQA) activities to all the products in their environment to prevent and isolate uncertainties in in-game mechanics and functionality. Note that FQA may require separate builds of every region (SIEA, SIEJ, SIEE) from the developer. But now Sony has Global FQA that checks your primary build in iterations. Once Global FQA for the primary build is passed, you’re most likely to submit its copy to all the regional facilities.
- Branding regulations
PlayStation has a set of unified branding regulations for all the games on the platform. It includes things like logo placing rules, interface options, and prohibited symbols regulations;
- Communication standards
You need to establish proper technical support, FAQ section, and player-to-player communication rules and guidelines (especially if your game has online mode). There are also regulations about things like a language that a game must display when saving data, or the appearance of an online log in screen;
- Localization languages
SIEE, SIEA, and SIEJ have various rules for language policy but be prepared that all the text content (and sometimes audio) should be very localized to 3 or
Passing TRC isn’t the final frontier of bringing your game to PlayStation. There is still a solid number of legal, organizational, and marketing activities you should be ready to take on.
First of all, submit your game to the Sony Marketing team. They will help to set up a store page for your game and may offer some promotional deals, like discounts, free weekends, participation in bundles, and paid subscription featuring. This usually takes up to 4 weeks.
Legal forms and stores packing
Also, be prepared for a lot of legal and metadata forms filling. Make sure you have a text copy for a store page and printing materials (in all the necessary languages!), images of various sizes, and a video trailer for your game. Don’t forget that it should look good on the PlayStation store, both from the console and other devices, so prepare the console-specific versions.
Every game should acquire an age rating, especially if there’s violence or adult content included. Submitting a game for the ESRB rating system usually works well for PlayStation. We recommend specifying the exact age rating you want for your game and showing off all pieces of content to a regulator.
When your game is technically and legally ready for launching, empower your marketing and promotional activities as much as you can. Don’t hesitate to ask Sony for recommendations and assistance — it’s also in their interest for your title to have good sales. Don’t count on a desirable release date too much — evaluate as many options as you can.
Picking a date alongside Sony is a great thing to do to avoid unnecessary marketing competition: no matter how good your game is, you’re most likely to lose a solid amount of exposure if your launch date is close to the release dates of games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Cyberpunk 2077.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask Sony for assistance regarding social and event exposure. Subreddits, tweets, and stories may work very well.
Plan ahead if you intend to release DLCs, sequels, or any other new content for your game. Adding new content requires all the checks as submitting another game. Of course, it’s faster but it still takes time.
Creating a game for PlayStation is a challenge indeed. TRCs alone may balloon the budget and the development time. But 114 million players worldwide is a good point to consider bringing your game to the Sony console.
If you want to accelerate getting your game to PlayStation — Contact Us and let’s do it. We have all the necessary devkits and other equipment as well as dozens of released projects and completed TRCs. We will be glad to do it again for your PlayStation game!