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Q&A: What does Sony's 'most open console' promise mean? Exclusive
Q&A: What does Sony's 'most open console' promise mean?
February 21, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi




Last night during Sony's presentation unveiling its PlayStation 4 console, Sony's Mark Cerny made a vague promise that the system would be "the most open console" for developers to get games to players.

How restrictive this next generation of consoles will be has been one of our primary concerns…in an age where developers are cleaning up on Steam, the iron gates of console distribution are starting to look a bit archaic to a lot of you. In fact, when we asked you guys on Twitter what you wanted out of the next generation of consoles, the most common answer by far was to ease up and let developers in.

So, as promised, we followed up with Sony to see what they have in mind. We spoke with Sony Computer Entertainment World Wide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida on Thursday to find out what being "open" means, whether the PlayStation 4's automated discoverability means Sony is free to allow weirder games on its service, and just how the company plans to convince consumers that they need to buy yet another dedicated video game box in an age where people seem pretty pleased with their smartphones.

There was a promise made at the presentation yesterday that the PlayStation 4 would be "the most open console" for game developers, what was meant by that?

I don't remember exactly what context he said it in. He was talking about the architecture choice we made this time. We really went for the most common, most popular basic component. And we started from there. So I think that he is talking about "open" in terms of how familiar [the architecture is] to most developers. But I'm not totally sure…

Let me ask another way, then. I understand that the PS4 is accessible from a development standpoint -- once you are a licensed PlayStation developer. What I'm wondering is if Sony is lifting any restrictions, perhaps? Or making it easier for a smaller developer to get onto the PlayStation 4 than it was for the PlayStation 3?

Yeah, that we really want to do. We believe in smaller developers. They are very creative and they go out of the norm to do something really amazing. So we really want to make it easier for them to come to our platform and publish. And we know there are many things we can do, in talking with these guys and asking what they want us to do. And one effort we've been doing in that context is the PS Mobile platform. That doesn't even require the purchase of a dev kit. It's totally software driven, and they can develop games… on PC, for example. And once you decide to publish it, you want to test it on the final hardware, but you don't have to acquire a pricey dev kit.

The approach to PS4 we're internally working on is, I hope to see somewhere in-between the current model that we have on PS3 and the PS Mobile totally software-driven model. We could continue and go and expand the PS Mobile approach, but the beauty of developing games on console is we allow the developers to go really deep into the hardware, and to unlock the potential. And so in order for us to do that, the developer has to have the dev kit to work on. So at least initially, we have to provide the dev kit to make games on PS4.

I just want to make sure I understand what you said, you said your vision for you want to go with that program is somewhere between PS Mobile's open accessibility and the PS3's closed gates, somewhere in-between?

Yeah, that's our direction.

Does the PS4's PC-like architecture mean that dev kits might be easier to manufacture, and might be less expensive this time around? Could they be going out to more developers than in the past?

We usually don't talk about the pricing of the dev kit. But yeah, I'd say it can be cheaper. But I don't know if it's cheap enough for those indie guys. Because it's not just the cost of hardware, it's also the SDKs and tool chains and dev support and all those costs.

So I guess what I'm hearing is that you recognize that you need these smaller guys to be on PlayStation, and you're trying to sort out still how to get these tools in their hands?

I'm saying we want them to be on our platform. You said we need, but it's more like we want.



One big feature being pushed at last night's presentation is a more organic means of content discoverability for users, relying more on their histories and their friends than on what Sony chooses to promote. Does this open the door to distributing more games than you have in the past, now that a lot of that virtual shelf space has been freed up?

Absolutely, yes. We love having lots of different kinds of content. It's hard to find the right content for particular users, so we want to make a service so that we know their preference and we'll be able to prioritize what we push forward to particular customers when they open the software. So we are trying to serve as much information that we think they like onto the system menu.

Sure, but because that discoverability is more natural now, does that mean that Sony might be more open to distributing some games that they wouldn't have before? Maybe titles that are more obscure or niche or weird can be on PlayStation, now that Sony doesn't have to worry about how to display and curate them?

As far as the self-publishing is concerned, I think we already have a pretty open stance to get many different kinds of content…

Through PS Mobile or in general?

I think it's just another degree. I don't understand what level of "weirdness" you're talking about. But in a general sense, the answer is yes, we'd like to make it so that lots of different kinds of content are published on the system and still be able to reach the right kind of audience for that particular content, even if that content is pretty niche.

These last two console launches have been performing below expectations, Sony has come out and said that the Vita is selling below expectations, and the Wii U's January performance [in the U.S.] was a record low for any currently available systems…

…did we say that?

Yes, actually. I don't have the exact quote, but it was insinuated along with the price cut in Japan that the Vita was underperforming.

No no no, he didn't say it- [Yes, he did. - Ed.]

Okay, fair enough, but the general perception is that the Vita has not sold as well as one might have hoped, and the Wii U certainly did not in January. One might argue that dedicated video game consoles are falling out of favor in the public eye, and I'm wondering how Sony would respond to that and convince consumers that there still is a place in their home for a new video game-centric box when most seem to be pretty satisfied with other devices that also happen to play games?

Well said. Yes. The answer is yes. We have to provide something compelling to consumers to purchase right? So it's as simple as that. Unless we do that-

It's as simple as what? What did I say that you're saying "yes" to?

We have to provide something very compelling. We believe a generalization like what you said, that no console will sell, is wrong. It's very wrong. And we have to prove it with PS4. And PS Vita, for that matter. We've been making efforts to make it more appealing to more consumers. And we just announced the price drop in Japan, and we provided more information about games coming out this year.

So from your perspective, what is the push for consumers to buy the PS4 then? Is it just the social aspects? What makes the PS4 stand out to make people want to buy one?

In the end, we have to provide games that they want to play. That's the most important thing.

So software exclusivity?

You may say that, but it's not just the exclusive software. Exclusive software matters when people are comparing different systems. But [in terms of getting someone to buy a new console] it doesn't really matter, to me at least, if a game is exclusive to PS4 or if it's provided on all consoles. It's true that everybody plays games on cell phones or tablets, and many people are just happy in doing so. For many people playing games, it's just passing time. They don't want to spend money to buy hardware, and they don't want to spend money to buy games. Many games on smartphones are free. So for those people, it's very hard to convince…not only that you have to buy this thing, this hardware, but there are many other people who are willing to spend money to get some great game experiences. And we're going to provide something great for those kinds of consumers.

Isn't that kind of consumer shrinking in numbers?

It's a demand and supply issue. If we don't provide something great for these people, they don't buy. So which is the cause? It's kind of difficult to judge. Once we provide something great, there will be more and more people who are willing to spend money.


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Comments


Dominic Camus
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Devkits, eh? Ugh.

And doubtless there'll be the same restriction on needing a high security office building to keep it in, so in fact "most open console" pretty much amounts to it being completely out of reach. Again.

Nuttachai Tipprasert
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I've shipped about 10 DS games in the past and I really don't understand what you mean about "high security office building". The games company I had worked for those DS projects are all self funded and only have not more than 20 employees; one of them has only 5 employees and used owner home as its office. So, I'm not sure where did the myth about "high security office is a requirement for console games company" came from but it's obviously false.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

chris kirby
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I have a ps3 and vita devkit in my house..and the ps3 is not the retail unit version but the massive behemoth.

Doug Poston
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Shhhh...a lot of the readers here are not actual developers. Don't tell them we don't all work in high security offices with 24 hour armed security and laser trip-wires. They might find out we have normal jobs. ;)

Benjamin Quintero
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The "high security" clause is one that only gets activated if they don't like your idea, it's the easiest way to nicely tell you to go away.

Brian Bartram
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I read the title and hoped to be excited about Sony investing deeper in the indie scene and making publishing and discovery more democratized. But as the interview went on my hopes sunk - all I detected was more of the classic Sony hubris that has seen them fall from relevance in the west (from my perspective, at least... as my dust-covered PS3 will attest to). The waffling, the "non-answers"... in the end I just felt like the interview was a waste of time. This is no criticism of the author, who does a great job of attempting to get solid answers from Sony - to no avail.

Jimmy Albright
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The #1 thing I was hoping to get from yesterday is some information about indie content on the PS4. I've been on the fence since MS discontinued XNA, and have been examining my options. Really disappointed so far. Not much incentive to choose the PS4 above anything else.

Sony's way of trying to show their interest with indie developers was a rambling Jonathon Blow on stage talking about the witness.

Ryan Christensen
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You said everything I was thinking. I was hoping that consoles would go open market and let algorithms and some curation lead to a flourishing economy like on mobile this time around but it appears not.

Yes when markets are open and free 99% of content might be bad or subpar, but the 1% that is good might be even better than the best a closed game market can offer. Free markets are good for finding what content is good, also for creating hysteria around your hardware and this leads to a bigger economy for the console/device. Not sure why console makers don't get this.

Still holding out hope they will have something like PSM and their new mobile developer programs for PS4 but it appears a special club still unfortunately. It would be great if they would help setup indie publishers then that could be open and publish through them at a minimum.

Really looking forward to Apple TV, Ouya and steambox if they succeed to shake this up.

It is not even about indie or not is it about being an open or closed market. The new successes are open, the consoles are still mostly closed.

Erwin Coumans
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Open to some Indies means programmable in C++, full access to the GPU and an easy way to sell their work.

Cordero W
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I don't like the term indies. Anyone who is an indie is building themselves up on lower entry platforms, such as iOS and Steam. If they are eligible to hang with the big boys on PSN, Xbox arcade, or Nintendo's eShop, then they worked for it. Everyone started out small. Being open to indies won't paint the PS in a good light because most indie games are not that great. It's just the nature of the business with the low cost of production.

Arthur Souza
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"Being open to indies won't paint the PS in a good light because most indie games are not that great."

So you can say that about the XBOX360?

james sadler
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I agree with Cordero, though I wouldn't consider Steam a lower entry platform. And yes the indie games portal of the 360 showed how terrible of an idea it was to openly admit indie games onto the platform. And now MS has stopped supporting the SDK, which says a lot about their feelings in the whole matter.

Dave Long
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@ Arthur - XBL Indie Games is a perfect example of that - lots and lots and lots of rubbish, and very hard to find the good stuff unless you know its there already. Core XBL, on the other hand, is even less open than the PSN. Not sure what your point is?

Jimmy Albright
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@Dave Long Could you provide some insight on how PSN is more open? I've heard from numerous people that Sony treads indies better but no one ever provides any examples. I'm not trying to challenge that statement, I'm 100% genuinely curious.

Igor Makaruks
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@Jimmy, http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-02-15-playstation-4-mu
st-demolish-the-walled-garden#comment-61959

@Erwin, totally agree.

Dave Long
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@Jimmy - sorry, I'm going on stuff I've read as well, so no hard evidence. It seemed that early on in 360/PS3 era, the 360 was better to indies, but that from about the mid-point it seemed easier to publish on PSN - just the stuff you read from developers in public places like here though, I don't have anything concrete and I'd need to do some decent research to find a representative bunch of articles.

J Benjamin Hollman
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"I'm saying we want them [smaller developers] to be on our platform. You said we need, but it's more like we want."

Ouch.

Jarod Smiley
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why would you take that as a negative? Reading between the lines a bit too much I think. I think he's simply saying we want the most creative developers on our platform, but doesn't want to sound weak.

Also, language barrier is a factor here, Yoshida is Japanese...A better interview would be with Cerny himself or Kaz

Arturo Nereu
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I see lots of features that might align to bring Indie Devs an open platform. Still, Sony needs to prepare a fair strategy to do so.

Carlo Delallana
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Accessible dev tools also benefit larger studios. Not having to factor in heavy initial dev costs such as kids, tools, etc. goes a long way.

Jean-Paul LeBreton
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Really nice interview. You stayed professional but pressed him on all the marketing-speak. More of this kind of thing, please!

Ron Dippold
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I don't think Sony has open in their DNA. They could be selling millions of Vitas if they just opened it up - it's fantastic hardware. But that's still doggedly closed, and of course requires ridiculously expensive proprietary expansion memory.

I certainly do believe they would love to get more good PSN games. They do a fantastic job of nurturing great digital only games, but those take a lot of time, tech support, and funding - PS4 should certainly be more open in the sense of lowering the burden there. A studio could take 'any' PC game (hopefully designed for controller) and put it on PS4 without having to commit to it at a very early stage, and if Sony liked it they could still snap it up as an exclusive.

Dave Long
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There's definitely been some opening on the Vita - have seen it mentioned by the Life of Pixel guys who stated that they'd much rather have the current certification requirements than the ones they signed up to around launch time. Hopefully they're continuing on this track with PS4.

Muir Freeland
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As I read this, I literally imagined Yoshida crying.

Dave Long
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That's a really odd thing to say - I'm curious as to the emotional baggage required for such a conclusion!

Matthew Mouras
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When Sony releases their XNA framework, I'll be impressed. Not holding my breath.

Alan Rimkeit
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But XNA is dead....

scott anderson
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PS Suite is Sony's equivalent of XNA. It's not a stretch to imagine that it will run on PS4 assuming they continue to support it.

http://www.playstation.com/pss/index_e.html

Jimmy Albright
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@scott anderson Is it as low level as XNA?

K Gadd
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PS Suite is only an XNA equivalent in that it repeats all XNA's mistakes and then adds new innovative Sony mistakes to make it even harder to use.

PS4 support is a quite a stretch, in fact, given that currently the platform barely even runs on their flagship device (the Vita) and the tools are horribly broken for most Android devices, and they have not even announced plans to support targeting the PS3/PS4 despite the technology having been in development for multiple years.

A few other gems: Your combined heap/resource memory (including textures, sounds, etc - oh, and textures can't be compressed) is limited to 96mb. There are no profiling tools whatsoever and you can't write your own because it's not native. Only one piece of music can be played at once (no crossfading). Threading is pretty much outright broken to the point that using it almost guarantees random crashes or your game not working. CPU and GPU performance on-device is a miserable fraction of actual native performance.

Matthew Mouras
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So yeah... like I said... when they release their XNA framework... PS Suite isn't up to the task.

Just because MS made the poor decision of no longer supporting a useful tool for small developers, Sony should abandon the idea of making their "most open console" more accessible? Besides... doesn't Sony have a shiny new discoverability plan for their storefront? Sounds like they have MS's biggest complaint with XBLIG figured out.

james sadler
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As pointed out in an article about XNA a couple of weeks ago, having and open system doesn't make sense on a platform like this. If you open the system up to smaller studios then it doesn't make sense for the big studios to pay the big prices to develop for the platform. XNA and even PS mobile limit what the developer can do to confine them. Ideally they could use those platforms as a kind of training ground where the developer has to prove themselves there before picking them up for bigger projects on their main services. This was at least my hope with XNA but with the flood of content it really made this option impossible for the most part. Its not just the tools that are a hindrance though. There's also the issue of all the steps a release must go through once it is done by the developer before it goes in front of the public. All the checks and paperwork that need to be done in order just to submit an update. Those are some of the bigger things that need to be fixed to really help developers.

The PS4 is just another system. I don't know what people are really expecting from these guys. These systems are designed for the "core" gaming audience and not the casual player, and/or as media center devices. The market that we had ten years ago is diminished now that mobile platforms have taken hold, and it seems like they at least understand this. Sony wont sell the same numbers the Wii or Xbox360 did. I don't even think the 720 will do that. The key now is to focus on the market that they do have and give them and the developers the tools that they need to do that.

scott anderson
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"Ideally they could use those platforms as a kind of training ground where the developer has to prove themselves there before picking them up for bigger projects on their main services. This was at least my hope with XNA but with the flood of content it really made this option impossible for the most part."

I'd say this happened with many of the best XNA games getting released on XBLA (Bastion, Fez, Dust, etc.)

james sadler
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Yeah I know it did happen. The problem was that there wasn't enough content that moved from the indie channel to the XBL channel. Its is understandable why this happened, and that's what I was trying to get at. Johnathan Blow spoke a lot about the red tape that MS put in front of getting a game onto XBL also as a major roadblock. Sony and MS could greatly increase small studio interest by fixing these things.

Kevin Reese
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Funny how Sony's going for this 'more open' route while at the same time Microsoft is trying to go the 'way more closed' with Windows 8 and their hopes of all PC users buying software through the MS store so they get their 30% cut in all software sales. Thank goodness for Gabe N bringing Steam to Linux as I think it's going to be incredibly more successful than many people imagine.

Jeremy Holmes
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Maybe I am missing something, but what is more open about Steam compared to Windows 8? In this scenario you have just replaced Microsoft with Valve.

Jimmy Albright
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Microsoft has actually been heading in a more open direction for quite some time. I urge you to do some real research instead of taking what Gabe Newell says as fact. The development team for Microsoft has been heading more and more towards embracing open source with doing things like adding full github integration into windows and contributing to OS projects.

The only "closed" thing about windows 8 is the appstore, which is NOT A REQUIREMENT FOR DEVELOPERS. You can still write software for windows, install it to the desktop, and launch it from there or the new UI if you want to. Literally there is really little that is closed about Windows 8, unless you're referring to Windows RT and even then those issues lie with the ARM processor mostly and not the OS.

In order to compete with apple and google in the tablet and mobile market, MS has literally no choice but to make their own app store. It doesn't make windows 8 any more closed, not in the slightest.

The fear mongering Gabe Newell does is pointless. Windows 8 is a faster, lighter OS than Windows 7 and even in some cases (Dota 2, CS:GO) I actually get more frames in windows 8 than I do in windows 7, even if its only 2-3 on average.

Igor Makaruks
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@Jeremy, in order to publish on Windows 8 store you just publish. In order to publish on Steam you have to pay $100 and go through a voting process.
Steam is much more closed than PSN, for that matter.
Btw, how many games do you have running on Linux through Steam natively?
There are more than few hundred PSN mini and PS3 games on PSN published by indie devs.

Kevin Reese
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It's my opinion that MS is trying to move the PC from a more open system to a more closed one. It seems like the plan is to eventually control the distrubution of software to Windows PCs through Windows stores. Perhaps I'm wrong. I'm not the only person that thinks this though, such as even articles on this site, such as this http://gamasutra.com/view/feature/179420/the_next_twenty_years_wh
at_.php?print=1 "The Next Twenty Years: What Windows 8's Closed Distribution Means for Developers" agree with me.

As for my last sentence in the original post, sorry I was not being very clear. My bad. The point I tried to make was that by bringing Steam to Linux, this will do wonders for the development of software libraries and graphics support that can encourage gaming on Linux, which will in turn make more games available for Linux (not just as sold through Steam, but just more Linux versions of games in general). Then in turn, this will vastly improve Linux uptake in the desktop market.

If gaming is brought to Linux, I do wholeheartedly agree with Gabe N.'s opinion that Linux installations on desktops will skyrocket.

Jane Castle
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Why are some "indies" so obsessed with getting on consoles? Most of you must have some idealistic thoughts as to what it is like to deal with the console gatekeepers....

It costs substantial amounts of money to get on the consoles, you have to navigate through a myriad of rules, regulations and big company bureaucracy. When all is said and done unless you have a big publisher backing you (who will then rape you on the royalties) or a Mine Craft style hit, you will get scant if any promotion from the console maker.

If your game is any good, the PC sales numbers will dwarf anything that you can sell on console and for a lot less effort, aggravation and money spent.

When confronted with sales figures from the PC, your console rep will just shrug them off as if market rules do not apply. Because, hey we're a big console manufacturer and we know better since you're just a small indie who dares to show us sales figures to prove facts on our console and questions the way we do business.

The consoles just don't have a business model designed to serve the needs of the small time developer. That is not the market they serve. I guess most of you harbor dreams of getting on the consoles so you can impress your friends at GDC? I don't know..... The reality of getting on the consoles is something completely different than what you or I would wish it to be......

Jimmy Albright
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What it comes down to for me is that Consoles provide a very different gaming experience, one I've come around to enjoying a little more frequently since I've gotten married and don't have thousands of hours to myself to devote to PC gaming. The PC gaming experience is largely in part a solitary one by design. I'm WAY more likely to buy crossplatform titles on xbox or playstation so I can sit on my couch and play with my wife or at least so she's able to share the experience. For this very reason technology like the Oculus Rift doesn't appeal to my interests.

Getting on consoles especially in the "premier" areas like XBLA is really tough, but it's also a much smaller pond. The amount of marketing just to get someone to notice you and even then you have to deal with piracy and other BS. Sure, you can take advantage of some great tools like Unity and Unreal, but at the same time if you're successful you're going to be only taking in like 40% of your profits due to 30% in digital distribution and another 30% if you make over 50k on your title and you're using Unity.

Sure, the business model isn't ideal and it could certainly be improved, but believe it or not some of us actually just have a true interest in the console experience. If Indies ONLY cared about money and sales they'd go work for studios instead of risking everything to do it alone. In fact if any programmer cared about money they'd probably just work in business applications and not in the game industry.

Jane Castle
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@Albright

Piracy is a long beaten dead horse. I won't even bother to debate this.

If you don't like the royalty payments on engines then I suggest you roll your own tech. XBLA doesn't magically solve the tech problem for you either..... Also you need a publisher on XBLA, so that magical 30% that you think you will save because now you don't have to worry about tech since you are on XBLA will now be going to said publisher.....

Here's how my talks went with a console publisher (without naming names to protect the innocent). $200K advance and 10% royalties...... And this is considered a "GREAT" deal...... lol! I couldn't put the phone down quickly enough. I think many of you are in a dream like stupor when it comes to the realities of doing business on the consoles.....

As for XBLA being a much smaller pond that is debatable. You are competing with the same number of studios as you would on Steam. Often these same studios are much larger than you and have many more resources and marketing budgets to make their products stand out on XBLA. In many cases you get crowded out by the much bigger players. Many developers have reported far more sales of their game on PC as opposed to XBLA. So your argument of XBLA being a smaller pond and that being some sort of advantage is not entirely accurate. A more prudent approach is to make games that are far different gameplay\art wise than what the bigger publishers\developers are doing. That will get you more attention and notice for doing something original that stands out as opposed to being in the "smaller pond" of XBLA.

As for money and sales. If you don't care about this you won't be in business for long. Working in business applications and thinking you will make more money is a complete fallacy. The market for business programming is completely saturated with candidates and outsourcing outfits of every stripe. It is an employer's market for IT programming\services right now.

Sure the risks of being independent are great, like starting any other business. Being an independent developer does not shield you in any way from the realities that you will face in running a start-up business.

But the flip side is that there are great rewards both personal and financial should you be successful. A successful independent developer is on a financial footing that is far superior to the one of a nameless developer working at a big studio waiting for his next pink slip once the product ships....

Jimmy Albright
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"Working in business applications and thinking you will make more money is a complete fallacy."

The pay is relatively comparable, although I have quite a few friends who code for successful studios (one who is rather high at a studio who created one of the most played PC games worldwide) who make less than .net developers building sharepoint applications. There is no cushy retirement, or great medical benefits. The kicker is the tradeoff of working significantly more hours in the game industry as opposed to the software industry. There's also the issue of job stability. Unless you know some programmers that aren't on salary, in which case you should let me know what goldmine they work in.

You are literally the first person i've heard trying to paint a bleak outlook for developers. I can't find a single list through CNN, TIME, Forbes, or ANYWHERE that doesn't have Software Engineer listed in the top 10 best jobs in America. Forbes has it at #1 for 2012, actually. Out of curiosity, do you work in IT at all?


"A successful independent developer is on a financial footing that is far superior to the one of a nameless developer working at a big studio waiting for his next pink slip once the product ships...."

Right, and a lottery winner is also going to be on far superior financial footing than someone who plays bingo on the weekends. There are some huge success stories, but if you're in the business of game development seeking the millions that people like Notch have come up with, you're gonna have a bad time. The whole point of being indie is to have full creative control over your work, it's not a good idea to get into indie development with the intent to get rich. The success stories are very few and far between.

There are (or were, in the case of XNA) some paths of less resistance to get on XBLA. Dream Build Play was a great way to make it to XBLA, assuming your game was good enough to win. Very rarely did I actually come across something of high quality on XBLIG that I felt deserved to be on XBLA, that's just a matter of personal opinion though.

Jane Castle
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@Albright

Then that is the fault of your developer friend for not negotiating a better salary for himself. If he is experienced then he can go somewhere else and command a bigger salary.

I did not paint a bleak picture of all software developers. Just the ones that are doing business software. If you are a software engineer who has niche hard to find skills then you can command a significant salary. LOL! at your .net developer example. I can kick a tree right now and get a .net developer, this is not a skill that has a high barrier to entry. It is just this type of developer that is in trouble right now your friend notwithstanding.
All the friends I know doing .net development are wondering when they will fall to outsourcing since this is an easily outsourced skillset. So working in this environment is not all it's cracked up to be either.

As from pulling facts from CNN, Time, Forbes etc. etc. That doesn't mean a thing..... I remember one time they were all writing how there is a shortage of nurses and how that was THE CAREER for the next ten years. Go and ask any newly graduated nurse how their job search is going.....

As for your game developer friend he is either a horrible negotiator or doesn't have any skill.

As for notch I was NOT referring to that kind of success. More along the lines of the Legend of GrimRock developers who have sold 600K so far of their title. It is possible to run a very profitable game studio in this environment without the need to be on consoles. Of course you need the skills and talent to pull it off.

OK from your last post it seems that we are referring to different types of indies. I am referring to indies that have several years of experience and have shipped titles for traditional studios and now have left to go independent. You seem to be referring to indies that have little to no experience shipping a commercial title and rely on XNA to get on theXbox360. These are two different breeds altogether and the latter will of course have a much harder time getting off the ground.

Jimmy Albright
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"I did not paint a bleak picture of all software developers. Just the ones that are doing business software."

So anyone who isn't working on games, essentially?

Is that why the burnout/turnover rate in the games industry is what, 3x as high? Is that why there has been serious talk for years about unions specific to Game Development?

Have you actually researched any of this data you're touting?
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/184504/are_game_developers_
standing_up_.php


Top 3 answers from the study asking game developers "What best describes your reasons for leaving the industry?"
1. I got fired and didn't want to find another job in the industry.
2. I found a better paying job with better hours
3. I burned out

Do you live in the US? Java devs are paid well here but if you look at money on a per-project basis .NET developers are actually some of the highest in the business world. Any company with the money to pay for loose, out of the box solutions is going to generally pay their employees more.

As much as I want to eventually be successful doing something I truly enjoy, there is no denying there are some serious problems in the game industry in regards to quality of life. There's a reason after every title there are HUGE sections in the credits thanking the families of every spouse who had to deal with their S.O. being gone all the time, and even bigger sections devoted to development babies.

Jane Castle
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I never said anyone not working in games. Again do not try to put words or sway the argument in your favor by stating things I never said. I SAID developers that have niche or hard to find skills such as those that work in embedded systems or develop for real time OS environments should easily be able to find full time well paid work.

As for .net and java developers the talent pool for that type of developer is both long and deep. If they can command a high salary (In any place other than Silicon Valley) more power to them.

WTF does QOL have to do with ANYTHING I have posted. If you start your own business then you can kiss QOL goodbye. Many of you seem to think that making games is all roses and unicorns. It is not.... I think you should stick to "safe" java and .net programming if you want QOL.

You will NEVER get QOL by starting your own indie studio or ANY business for that matter. You seem to want your cake and eat it too. It's obvious you haven't started any successful venture of any kind by the way you post. My brother manufactures plastic extruders for heavy industry and is a multi millionaire, he has no QOL...... I don't know any business owner that does unless they are retired.

Also you seem to like to get off topic, especially when you can't defend your arguments adequately. So if indie game development is such a raw deal as you suggest then how are the consoles supposed to kiss us and make it all better again?

Jimmy Albright
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Wasn't putting words in your both. I was comparing the game industry for software engineers to the business industry. When you say things like..

"Working in business applications and thinking you will make more money is a complete fallacy. The market for business programming is completely saturated with candidates and outsourcing outfits of every stripe. It is an employer's market for IT programming\services right now."

That entire statement goes against all of my experiences, the experiences of those I know, and every piece of information or research I've ever come across. Sorry for feeling the need to counter something that I feel is incorrect in every sense of the word. Consulting and outsourcing generally costs a HELL of a lot more than internal work. I bill internally for a large corporation at at a fraction of what local outsourcing costs. Local consulting companies that hire recent college graduates with no business experience charge $120.00 per hour or more.

"I SAID developers that have niche or hard to find skills such as those that work in embedded systems or develop for real time OS environments should easily be able to find full time well paid work."

What relevance does this have to do with my comparisons of software engineers between the business and gaming industries? The average software engineer in the business world probably isn't going to be coding in low level C.

"So if indie game development is such a raw deal as you suggest then how are the consoles supposed to kiss us and make it all better again?"

I actually never said it was a "raw deal". Read your initial post and my response. You asked why some "indies" are so obsessed about getting on consoles. I replied explaining my preference on console gaming. I don't think they should "kiss us" or anything to that nature. What Microsoft had going with XNA was fantastic. Working in a low level framework using all 100% free tools to make games is fantastic. Within 10 minutes anyone could be throwing code and building their game to their xbox, what a cool way to engage developers. Unfortunately, XNA was hindered by the submission process and other problems with XBLIG. I don't know WHAT the answer is, but I don't feel that zero curation (future of steam) is the answer. Zero curation doesn't work at all for the android market, you just open the floodgates to shovelware, which was also a big problem with greenlight on initial release.

1 platform isn't better than the other, they all have strengths and weaknesses. Look at windows mobile, it's the smallest target audience but it's very easy to develop for, even something as simple (but fun and addicting) as Ska Studios "I maede a game with zombies in it" sells over 300,000 copies and actually gets put on XBLA with achievements and such. Releasing the same title on iOS or Android might not have yielded the same results.

Adam Bishop
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"If your game is any good, the PC sales numbers will dwarf anything that you can sell on console"

Weren't something like 3/4 of World of Goo's sales on the Wii? How did Braid sell on the Xbox 360 vs PC? What about Limbo?

It's not very hard to come up with examples of games that sold better on the PC, but to argue that it's superior for all devs in all situations and for all games is not reflective of reality.

ian stansbury
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@Jane While I agree that most indie games really don't belong on consoles I think your overstating the worthlessness of being a business programmer. Personally, and I know this is just anecdotal, I work as a java developer for a large business and I get calls from recruiters quite frequently (1-3 times a week). I'm pretty language agnostic but the java pays the bills. I remember reading that the average unemployment rate for a dev with at least 3 years experience is around 5-6 percent (sorry can't find the link) and its lower for those who fit the senior/architect role. We usually can't keep good people at our company because they find jobs with better pay and leave.

I would be curious as well if you had any articles/research to back up some of what your saying.

Amir Sharar
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@Jane, I'll act as a devil's advocate to many of your statements, please don't take it as argumentative or aggressive in any way. :)

"Why are some "indies" so obsessed with getting on consoles?"

Everyone has their reasons, but most I've talked to indicate the desire to fulfill a fantasy of having a game they've created on a screen in their living room. Yes, it may be easier to create PC titles, but it ties back into a childhood dream.

"It costs substantial amounts of money to get on the consoles..."

Only $99 on the Xbox 360 through the XBLIG platform. It's never been more affordable, I'd argue.

"you have to navigate through a myriad of rules, regulations and big company bureaucracy."

There is next to nothing of any of that on the XBLIG platform. Which is in fact why we see a lot of "low quality" titles on there. With a bit more bureaucracy, we might see a better balance between freedom/openness and quality.

"you will get scant if any promotion from the console maker."

That is part of the DIY Indie experience. Indie musicians, India film-makers, Indie-writers, and Indie fashion designers all go through the same Do-It-Yourself process in all aspects, including promotion. For Indie developers this means creating and maintaining things like Twitter accounts, creating YouTube commercials for their games, and sending out free codes to reviewers that focus on Indie games. With the "Bing" feature in last year's 360 update, finding games has never been easier. I really feel that Indies can not ever feel entitled for promotion, because that's a publisher's job, and the Indie developer decided to not go that route.

"The consoles just don't have a business model designed to serve the needs of the small time developer."

It seems that the low cost of entry (use your own PC to developer for the console, $99 a year fee) and the comparable 30% store owner cut from each title sold made it an ideal business model for small time developers. This, factoring in that marketing is entirely the responsibility of the developer.

Dave Long
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"Isn't that kind of consumer shrinking in numbers?"

I'm surprised that this fallacy is still circulating. Yes, there was a big drop in overall console sales over the last couple of years, but that was due, in large part, to the nature of the Wii, that was far more of a fad in both hardware and software sales. If you look at the size of the HD console installed base now and compare it with PS2 and Xbox at a similar time in the lifecycle, it's not that different. sure, that's not accounting for the Cube and the Wii, and it gets tricky with the Ninty faithful anyways (there's a number of Ninty gamers who wouldn't buy anything else no matter how good it was). The resurgence of PC is also a strong sign that there are plenty of people interested in dedicated gaming experiences.

Alan Rimkeit
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"there was a big drop in overall console sales over the last couple of years, but that was due, in large part, to the nature of the Wii, "

I have been saying this for so long and agree 100%. People got comfortable with the inflated numbers the Wii crowd created. Then the Wii peeps left and stopped buying games. The bubble popped back to normal size.

Jimmy Albright
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"(there's a number of Ninty gamers who wouldn't buy anything else no matter how good it was)"

I know maybe my experiences are moot but I don't know a single hardcore nintendo gamer who doesn't also own an xbox/ps3 or a PC. Just my honest experience, for what it's worth.

ian stansbury
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Don't forget the rise and fall of the party games, I'm looking at you Guitar Hero, that at one time drove huge numbers of sales but have fallen out of fashion with the non-gaming crowd. Add in the growth of casual/mobile gaming + age of current consoles and I figure we're about where we should be.

Dave Long
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@ Jimmy/Dario - aye, sorry, I wasn't trying to typecast everyone with a Ninty device (they lost me on the Wii - only console I ever regret guying - but I've still got a Cube, loved the N64 and may get a Wii U if that turns around) - and the Pachter quote is very pertinent. The main point I was trying to make is that the HD console market is still there, and that the decline in Wii sales (and a far slower uptake of Wii U) confused the issue, but don't mark a decline in the overall audience.

Jimmy Albright
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The Wii, was an interesting experience. I bought one very early, played it a ton but got bored without any titles I was REALLY interested in playing. Near the end of it's lifecycle I kind of went full circle and came back and realized there are some really solid games that take advantage of the Wiimotes, without taking away from the gameplay experience. The on-rails Resident Evil shooters were absolutely fantastic to play with my wife, who loves co-op but lacks the balls of steel to play more intense games such as RE5. Epic Mickey was shortcoming, but still an enjoyable enough experience. Super Mario Bros Wii, and Metroid Prime are also some examples of great use of the technology.


My Wii did collect some dust, but no matter what I always find myself excited to come back to Nintendo. I also don't think we'll see any sales figures that are at all close to the Wii. You're right in that it attracted a lot of new gamers, a lot of people who maybe picked one up and played it with friends for a few months before shelving it.

What the WiiU could have used was a much larger hard drive, and a high-quality online experience. That being said so far I'm much more excited about my WiiU (despite having it for months) than the upcoming PS4. For now though, this console generation is anyone's race.

Steven Christian
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More open than the OUYA? I'll believe that when I see it..

Lex Allen
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Honestly, I can't see a company like this being developer friendly to indies. If they really open the platform, I can imagine endless development hurdles will have to be jumped over. I'll believe it when I see it.

wes bogdan
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Just as long as i have my MASTER CONTROL PROFILE so I can FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE controls attached to my PROFILE which would allow you to override the default settings in all games that featured dual analog or twin stick games.


The differences between twin stick and dual analog is while i would use inverted aim southpaw and flip face buttons with the dpad up as down and down as up needs to have an exception so you don't fire down while pushing up in pixeljunk shooters 1,2 for example.

Craig Hauser
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When I heard about self-publishing content on PSN I imagined something along the lines of PlayStation Mobile or XNA, but much deeper, perhaps even using a standard console as a dev unit.

Hopes: dashed.

Roger Tober
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When you listen to Gabe Newells vision, you can see that Sony is miles behind the indie movement and getting players involved in the development process. There's really nothing to differentiate consoles anymore. PC's are cheap, can be put in the living room, and play more games at lower price levels.

Bob Johnson
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Problem with Gabe's vision is that pcs in the living room aren't for the masses. That's why the Steambox exists.

Jarod Smiley
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I'll likely support that when it happens, but atm...PS4 is looking like a fine console. Ouya and Steambox look interesting as well, but I don't see them as being more desirable in the slightest.

I will agree though, Steam prices are cheaper, and I hope that meshes out well this generation.

ian stansbury
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I'm not a Gabe fan boy and I think Steam has its fair share of issues. Having said that I do enjoy using steam as one of the places I use to buy games for my PC. I try to buy direct from the publisher/studio if possible but sometimes the price on steam is so much lower that it reminds me of buying books on Amazon.

The one place that Steam has a huge advantage over the big box guys is that they are more flexible and experimental. Once Sony/MS are set in doing something one way, then it may be years before they can institute any type of change. Plus, you know....Money.

Jimmy Albright
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The opinion seems unpopular here, but I doubt Valve's potential to compete in a cutthroat industy against competitors who will piss away millions just to get DLC content before other multiplatform releases.

Maybe if Valve actually finishes Episode 3, or fixes the laundry list of outstanding issues with Steam.

wes bogdan
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Thanks Dario but remember I'm fine with single analog stick or dpad and face buttons and didn't have a problem until after my n64 shooter days because i learn ed c group /future right stick was move while the control /future left stick was aim which was the PRO MODE unfortunately forwards became backwards /southpaw but sticks only.Triangle flips with dpad up,square with dpad left,x with dpad down and o with dpad right this full face swap is how i've played since i designed it back on ps2 using gamesters phoenix revolution gamepad which featured 4 holes and 4 pods 2 were analog sticks and the other 2 were a dpad and face buttons so after initial set up as industry southpaw i realized i could physically move not just the sticks but the face buttons and dpad as well. I got adapters so the ps2 pad would work on Xbox 1,had my 360 pads rewired and use thrustmasters 3-1 dual trigger on ps3. The only way i can play dual analog vita games like uncharted,gravity rush and ninja gaiden is to use motion aiming while slowing down the right stick to simply help find where i want to aim and then motion aim. Both gravity rush and sigma feature a camera center button which uncharted lacks heck when you aim drakave looks backwards rather than what he would see he turns around for some unknown reason but being a lefty and classic ly trained on n64 without my FULL SOUTHPAW i can't play and if i can't play it why would i buy it. Had i began with dual analog i still might not be wired that way or i might've been fine but without my custom layout ps4 will be an expensive paperweight unworkable and unplayable.

wes bogdan
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On wii u it's x as up ,y as left , b as down and a as right. Whereas Xbox would be y as up,x as left,a as down and b as right this means that the real face buttons will become up,left,down and right such a simple fix when freelooking on left map face button functions to the dpad and dpad functions to the face buttons.

Of course i also use invert aim and prefer toggle to hold the button down slip off and it stops and you will stanfor your headshot.

wes bogdan
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Clearly i've been fighting simply to play SOUTHPAW as a mirror default but with each new piece of hardware i get to start all over and 98% of my ps3 games would be unplayable without my dual trigger 3-1 mapped with my custom scheme.

Only racing,lego games,all stars 3d dot game,lbp or other single analog game is playable...i even turn my wii u gamepad upside down with nano assault neo running on the gp screen to get SOUTHPAW if you try this with the game on the hdtv both flight and fireing get inverted and while inverted freelook is great in killzone or journey it is unworkable in a twin stick shooter.

I don'even know if the guy who modded my 360 pads is still doing it and again allowing me to file n forget this in my psn profile would be the way to go making the ps4 master and every game slave so upon first install it checks default against a customizable profile and if nothings different fine but if your using my full southpaw then that becomes default for you then we can get back to why we're here the games.

wes bogdan
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I called thrustmaster,facebooked them as well and told them their 3-1 dual trigger with it's giant dpad ,360 style gun triggers and the ability to remember 3 separate or even just 1 scheme 3 times gamepad was the best thing around and needs updating for ps4,720 and wii u. It lacks motion so in kz 2,3 when you hit forced motion in kz2 you must pause turn on a ds3 waise you time doing the stupid motion parts then go to turn off ds and back to the 3-1 whereas kz3 requires the move wand.

If just press x works than most motion is a waste of time but in uncharted where drake does rubbings,solves puzzles that takes players deeper whereas log balance,jungle cutting are stupid chores funny then i treat dual stick vita games as single stick and my right stick is motion aiming as the real right stick is unuseable except slowed way down to aim assist where i then use the motion to really aim and yes inverted all the way.


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