After witnessing the growing popularity of the iPhone, with Apple’s App Store proving the viability of cheap causal gaming, Sony introduced the Minis, their own collection of inexpensive games available for download only on the PlayStation Network.
While the games are playable on the PlayStation 3, Minis are more suitable for Sony’s mobile gaming devices, the PSP 3000 (and older models), as well as the UMD-less, PSPgo. PSP gamers use Sony’s Media Go software to manage their Minis collection, in a similar manner as Apple’s iTunes software, although it is also possible to install games directly to the PSP from the PlayStation Store.
Minis Bring Casual Games to the PlayStation 3 and PSP
With few exceptions, the majority of the Minis library is made up of casual games. Most of the titles are under 100MB in size, fitting in the nicely with the download only aspect of PSPgo gaming. As mentioned previously, app pricing for the iPhone also affected how Sony prices their Minis, with most games available for around $5.
Graphics for the Minis are generally good, but are more suited for the PSP as supposed to the PS3. Sudoku, by Electronic Arts is an especially popular Mini. Another EA title, the venerable Tetris, is also a top seller at the PlayStation Store.
Sony Needs Improved Minis Search Functionality in the PlayStation Store
In all versions of the PlayStation Store: the PS3, the PSP, and in the Media Go program, it is difficult to find the best Minis as Sony only provides an alphabetic listing of the games. While each game is rated by users, it is impossible to sort by rating or genre. This is also a problem with Apple iTunes as well.
Demo videos and screenshots would also be helpful, as Sony provides neither for the Minis. Instead, users must browse through the list of titles – there are currently over 100 Minis – to see if any game looks worth downloading. In most cases, trusting the ratings and the name of the developer is the best way to go.
This compares poorly with Apple iTunes, as most every game in the App Store at least provides a collection of screenshots.
While Sony’s introduction of Minis is a noble attempt to enter the world of inexpensive, casual gaming pioneered by Apple on the iPhone, the Japanese electronics giant needs to provide a better job of presenting the games in the PlayStation Store. While gameplay videos are a nice to have, screenshots need to be provided for every Mini in Sony’s library.