Develop: Sony first party had to be “first or best” – Phil Harrison

Simon Williams July 20, 2011 - 9:21 am

Sony’s “mantra” for first party titles was be “first or best,” former exec Phil Harrison has described at Develop 2011 – a policy which led to the company signing Media Molecule and ultimately to the creation of LittleBigPlanet.

Former Sony executive Phil Harrison has been interviewing Kareem Ettouney, Alex Evans and Mark Healey of Media Molecule for the opening keynote at Develop Conference 2011 – and described the company’s policy towards first party titles that led to them signing Media Molecule ahead of Valve and Nintendo.

“Our mantra was ‘first or best’,” Harrison explained, explaining that the Sony approach was that a first party game for the PS3 either had to create or innovate in a new genre, or  be a best-in-class iteration of an established genre.

Harrison quoted from another Sony exec who said that when they first met with the core members of Media Molecule – who at the time had just left Lionhead, and had created Ragdoll Kung Fu for PC – Sony were “tired of cars, guns and monkey tennis pitches”. Talking to the Media Molecule members and seeing their early platformer demos – which actually ran in Powerpoint – Harrison and the other Sony executives realised that the team were a perfect example of being “first or best”.

Mark Healey, the Creative Director of Media Molecule, said one of the fundamental reasons they were successful was ”the core founding members covered all the bases… if we had to we could make a whole game on our own”

“We knew these guys [Media Molecule] were the answer,” Harrison continued, leading to Sony signing the fledgeling company and setting the ball rolling for one of the PS3′s most critically acclaimed flagship titles: LittleBigPlanet.

Interestingly, the Media Molecule team didn’t feel that LittleBigPlanet fulfilled the criteria of “first”, citing Lionhead titles such as The Movies and Black & White as being predecessors to their game.

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