With services like Facebook and Apple's App Store, game developers in the online and mobile spaces have shown how targeting a wide audience through accessible game design and low-barrier business models can equate to a successful digital business.
But for Jack Buser, senior director for PlayStation digital platforms in the U.S., laying a strong foundation for the company's digital games business means focusing on the traditional gamer, as opposed to the more casual, mainstream audience.
"It's truly the gamer that drives our industry, that drives our business as a platform holder," Buser said in an E3 interview in L.A. on Tuesday. "If you don't have that center in this industry, you're quickly going to lose the plot."
A critical part of Sony's digital strategy is PlayStation Mobile (formerly PlayStation Suite), an initiative that Buser said will bring the PlayStation brand to mobile users. Sony has its own line of mobile devices that can host PlayStation Mobile-certified games, and the company announced this week that HTC will be the first third-party PlayStation Mobile hardware partner. And the third-party mobile hardware partnerships won't end there.
"You're seeing the very early stages of what will be the future of this industry," said Buser. Sony's handheld PlayStation Vita is gaining more PlayStation Network features that lets it interact with the living room-based PlayStation 3. As PSN serves as the backbone to Sony products, it's easy to imagine that PlayStation Mobile will become increasingly connected with other PlayStation products.
"I think you can expect to see us take this notion of the PlayStation Network connecting an ecosystem of devices together forward in the future," said Buser. "But we've got nothing to announce specifically in regards to PlayStation Mobile."
"This is the most open development platform we've ever had at PlayStation. For around $100, you can actually get the full-on SDK and you can for the very first time, for a lot of developers, actually start building PlayStation games," he added.
And as the boss of digital at PlayStation, surely Buser is looking into Sony-developed Facebook games... right? "Well, I've got nothing to announce," he said, looking to his publicist. "But we certainly watch that space very, very closely. There's a tremendous amount of innovation there."
Gamasutra will have more from Buser in the near future.