Hopefully this hasn't already been said in another thread but I was just wondering what people thought about the opportunity for developers in the new generation of handhelds. It seems that it might be the system of choice for new companies to break in to the business.
Over the past few years a substantial amount of developers appear to have either gone bust or been merged into larger companies. Mainly since the introduction of the PS2 which i dont think has had nearly as much variety or as many new companies producing games for it. Most probably because of the rising production costs due to more models with more detail and so on. I realise that the psp will have similar specs as the ps2 but i doubt consumers will expect as much from its games as they do from its older sibling.
This is where newer developers will hopefully be able to get a foothold in the industry as they can create games at a cost similar to the late PS1/N64 and early PS2/GCN. Another factor which i think may be helpful for developers to gain recognition is the introduction of the second screen to the ds which is a fairly unexplored method of gaming and should hopefully enable for more variety in game design.
Anyway, id just like to hear what others think about that, and anything that i have stated is wrong please feel free to contradict me as im by no means an expert on the subject.
Many developers have, in the past, tried to make a break by going into the handheld market, due to it's lesser requirements for content etc. and therefore lower cost. I see no reason why this shouldn't continue on the next generation, although perhaps in more moderation as now the handhelds will require more content generally. These days, mobile phone games are probably a better option with regards to low-cost/low-man-power games, since emulators for specific phones/series are quite good quality and often provided for free, and theres not much requirement for a special "devkit" version of phones to test on. The biggest non-person cost is requiring one of each phone you want to release the game on for testing, which can cost you anywhere between $300-5000+.
As for ps2 quality on psp systems, this is going to be very difficult to achieve while still maintaining a battery life above 2 hours from what i've heard. Also apparently the psp cannot render tri's as fast, a few developers have mentioned that they've had to drop the tri count of their models a bit when porting ps2 games to psp.
Anyway, i'm certainly looking forward to the DS. Fingers crossed that cracking it doesn't prove to difficult.
Given the budgets and big named companies that are listed as PSP developers I think that smaller companies will have quite a hard time breaking into that market. There is also the fact that to get access to PSP dev kits you need to submit a game proposal to Sony and have it approved. This would be similar to the DS.
Mobile phone games can be better to get into as a small company but unless you are willing to fund the full cost of the game upfront you will be hard pressed to find a contract to do much with development on that (unless you sub-contract). When you do get contracts the pay may not be much more then keeping the group of people fed and housed for the development time and a very short time after that.
I still think that the Gameboy is a really good ground for a new group of people. The hardest part would be having at least one team member who is good at optimization. You can even get local engine software through Nocturnal for the Gameboy.