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An Open Indie-tation To Console Manufacturers
by Simon Dean on 03/22/13 03:37:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I recall the excitement of first experiencing games on the current generation of consoles, and the twinkle of an idea in the back of my mind, "wouldn't it be incredible to make a game for these beasts." In the several years that followed, that feeling inevitably subsided as desktops caught up and surpassed consoles in terms of raw power. I eventually followed up on that twinkle of an idea, and two years ago I started work on Folk Tale having stepped out of the games industry for quite some time. I took the contrarian view and while so many developers headed for the golden shores of mobile development, I remained true to my raw-power whorish nature and focused on desktop ever hopeful that one day I might get to develop for consoles.

As we awake to a new dawn for consoles, I once again feel the twinkle of hope and desire. But then I slap myself and remember that for the best part of forever consoles have remained off-limits to most indie developers. So in an open invitation from an indie developer to console manufacturers, I implore you to deliver on your plans to become indie friendly.

I invite you to increase accessibility by reducing financial barriers. By all accounts thousands of dollars for a dev-kit is not considered as being indie friendly. In an ideal world the notion of dedicated hardware dev-kits would cease to exist, allowing us to debug projects on retail units as with iOS.

I invite you to make our relationship a pain-free and enjoyable experience. We don't have piles of cash for certification fees, companies with financial history, or the funds to pay for updates to better serve our shared customers.

I invite you to reduce technical barriers by supporting game engines that in turn support widely adopted programming languages such as C# and have huge communities essential to the indie developer reaching out for technical assistance.

I invite you to open up your distribution channel to provide indie developers with greater access to our end customers. By all means avoid the mistakes of an Android free-for-all and introduce a quality threshold similar to the Apple model.

And finally I invite you not to fall for the misnomer of always-on DRM. Haven't we seen enough blood spilled recently?

I'm sure myself and thousands of other indie developers are waiting with great anticipation. I know for one I'd love to bring Folk Tale to console.

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Jeff Postma
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Hey Simon, great post. I also would like it to be easier to develop for consoles and feel that same twinkle as the PS4 is announced and when I hear news that the Wii U eShop is easier for indies.

There is something different for me about playing a game on my couch on a console than anywhere else. In front of the computer I guess my brain still thinks "time to work". I dream of one day releasing a game on a console. I guess that's why I'm still trying to do an XNA game even though many have left it behind and Microsoft announced it won't be supported. It's something special to be able to run and debug my game on my personal Xbox 360. It's not free but it's not thousands of dollars either. I still wonder why it's not that popular and being left by the wayside.

Do other consoles have anything similar?

Kujel Selsuru
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The closest thing to XNA on a dedicated gaming platform is PS suite and from what I hear it's not that good.

The XBLIG was unpopular because MS really mismanaged it and shoved it in a corner to wither and die.

Simon Dean
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I agree. It's not only the power of new consoles that appeals, it's the whole couch gaming experience that's so very different to playing games on desktop.

Joy Zimba
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Nice article. I would also add to your list an invitation, as a sub-clause under your suggestions about distribution channels, to adopt/standardise payment systems ( a la Paypal) to allow more international indies ( Outside US and Europe) to participate equally rather than blocking them out. See Google Play and PSM (last I checked) for this problem.

Can I build a game using dev kit for your platform - YES... sure! Absolutely! Go for it! Brilliant idea!
Can I get paid for the game published via your distribution channel - YES... BUT only if you are from US or the list of X,Y,B and C European countries. (note countries Z and A are missing)

The bottom line is there are great indie dev teams all around the world- and they too would love to develop for consoles but get blocked out by firstly what has been mentioned (like every other applicable team) and then find these final other financial restrictions - they then have to jump through extra hoops to be a part of what should be a streamlined and inclusive service for indies "all over the world".

If standards are of concern - see request for quality control.

Kujel Selsuru
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Your wish list sounds a lot like what the Ouya is offering, I'll admit not as powerful as you'd like though, and that is why I'm a strong supporter of them.

Simon Dean
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Indeed. Now if Ouya shipped with Tegra-4...