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Sony makes appeal to indie game devs
Sony makes appeal to indie game devs
June 10, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

June 10, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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Following on this morning's E3 press conference from Microsoft, expectations were high for Sony to differentiate itself from its main competitor in a meaningful way. To do that, Sony hit the ground running, opening its press conference with an appeal to qualitative game design, deliberately invoking buzzwords viewers were sure to recall from Microsoft's presser -- graphics, realism, cloud computing -- and contrasted this with some tasteful soundbites on community-friendly design.

This overture didn't last, as once the conference was underway it was all dubstep, polished graphics on enormous screens, and fast cutting of triple-A game footage. And then Jack Tretton took the stage to tell us about... the PlayStation Vita.

However, after the detour, Sony got back to how the PlayStation 4 was going to matter to indies. Opening this segment was Supergiant Games' Transistor, and then brief previews of console versions for Klei's Don't Starve, Wild Stallions' Octodad, Red Barrels' Outlast and OddWorld New 'n Tasty, a new installment into the cult classic OddWorld franchise.

"We're developing the world's best indie game portfolio," said Sony VP of third-party relations, Adam Boyes. He proceeded to confirm that independents would be able to self-publish on the platform, in direct contrast to the Xbox One.

Naturally, there were considerable triple-A offerings on display. Showcases for triple-A titles including Quantic Dream's The Dark Sorcerer and Sony Santa Monica's The Order: 1886 led the charge for what Shuhei Yoshida promised was a sampling of strong original IPs for the platform.

In all, Yoshida said that "one-third" of the 20 announced games in the PlayStation 4's pipeline would be new IPs, with a strong showing from indies among that number.


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Comments


William Johnson
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I really don't understand why Microsoft is putting up this wall garden for their online store. Did they honestly have no idea why iOS is so popular? I know a lot of people complain about the approval process for the Apple App Store, but one of the reasons the iPhone took off was because it was WAY more open then the cell phone provider's own app stores. And hell, the Apple App Store is still more open then the Xbox Live Arcade.

Its like Microsoft wanted to cause the perfect storm of backlash. To alienate developers by killing XBLIG (which to be fair, was garbage but was a nice option for smaller developers). Built hostility with retailers by forcing online registration of games and trying to kill the used market. And then ward off consumers with always online and questionable privacy policies.

And the worst part is Sony isn't doing anything special, they're just keeping the status quo and looking like heroes for doing nothing.

Jeremy Reaban
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I don't think lots of cheap, awful games flooding the store is why iOS is so popular.

For all the hype they get, Indie games really don't sell all the much. What is the biggest indie game? Minecraft, which MS has locked up.

Mark Venturelli
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Jeremy, you ignore the massive profits that indie games have *together*. It's not about one title, but many.

Also, it's not like you're either so stupidly closed like MS currently is, or as open as Apple. There are places in-between, and that's probably what Sony's aiming for.

Joel Bennett
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For me, the reason I liked XBLIG so much is that, as a daytime .Net developer, it made it that much easier to actually develop a game. The API was nice and simple, but with plenty of features, and there was a decent community around it. Rather than having to re-learn another language, the transition from what I was doing at work to what I was doing at home was minimal.

I really don't understand why they killed it, rather than helped it to become something better. Yes, that would have taken a bit more of a time and money from Microsoft, but the potential for a very nice, small, mature marketplace was there. It really would have helped them find the rising indie content, which they could then swoop in and promote/build up, in turn stabbing their competition where it hurts - games.

Perhaps in 10 years, someone will write a book on what really happened behind all the closed doors and decisions on why Microsoft did what they did. I know I'd be interested in reading it!

Ryan Christensen
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PS4 more like an appstore, the war of consoles has already been won. Congratulations Sony.

Companies like Halfbrick, Rovio, Firemint, Pixelbite and many many more were made by an open market on mobile. I am excited to see what games will pop up on PS4. They already had better indie exclusives like Joe Danger, Fat Princess and more. Good times ahead for gaming on the PS4.

What I don't get is being open appstores attracts developers and sells more hardware and subsequently more games. Why would Microsoft shut that down? Bigger economies always sell more.

Thomas Happ
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I'm excited! But I'll be more excited once the majority of console gamers have transitioned to the new consoles. Seems like Sony's got it in the bag this generation.

James Coote
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My concern is that Sony are just cherry picking the best indies (those already successful). As opposed to creating an environment that will grow and nurture indie developers, or allow for experimentation, both of which can mean games are less than polished

Ryan Watterson
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I'm cautiously in praise of sony, it really depends on the execution of the self-publishing platform. They have to strike the right balance of allowing things to shine all the way up from the bottom without it feeling like a chaotic, overwhelming amount of data. I'm going to trust them and aim to develop something for the platform as I believe they are truly sincere but the devil's in the details.

There is also a need to provide categories that make the mainstream public who will access the markets more comfortable with what to expect from games made by 1-2 people, 6-10 people, 50+ people, 150+ people scope wise. The gaming consumer base is already a demanding consumer base which is something big studios can absorb, but when it's just one guy behind the wheel of a dev project or just a couple of people that kind of pressure and demanding attitude is just not really helpful.

I guess another way to say this is that 'indie games' are not really a mainstream brand, mainstream people are not comfortable with 'oh YOU personally made the game?/your friend jeff made this?/you can show me the inside of this and know how it all works?/I could do this?'

Joel Bennett
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I think Ryan really hit the nail on the head. The key for any potentially crowded marketplace is helping filter the better content to the top. Perhaps I have a bit too much faith in how things work with that regard, but the good content should naturally bubble to the top. Of course this means that there needs to be a way for this to happen, which seems like it is currently done through user ratings and comments. Whichever marketplace facilitates this the best definitely has an advantage over the one that doesn't.

Yong Wu
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I'd say it's a bit too early and not enough information to say that they are only cherry picking the best indies. Since the system is not available to public and they are trying to generate more hype, it would make sense for them to bringing up the bigger names in Indies as that would create the most buzz. If you are trying to sell something you need to bring eye balls and after you have eye balls you can slowly work in all the other goodies.

James Coote
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Hmmm. At some point I'll want to get my own game on the PS4, so how that goes will I suppose be the real acid test

Regis Leboeuf
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That seems promising! Let's hope that they've made the development tools more accessible than the ones on PS3 for small indie teams, to allow them to focus on their creativity.

Mark Venturelli
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Kris, "OddWorld Inhabitants" is the name of the company, not the game. The game they unveiled is "New 'n Tasty", and it's apparently a full remake of Abe's Odissey.

Kris Ligman
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Thanks for the correction! I've updated the article.

Morgan Ramsay
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"World" is also not capitalized.

Chris Wightman
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Sony just showed how they have been ahead all the way since PS3 (really since Playstation 1). Oh you want one box for the entertainment center that plays blurays, streams video, surfs the net and everything in between? That's a Playstation 3. :P They were doing all of this out the door from pretty much day 1 with their system years ago. NOW Xbox Ones big thing is... duh duh duh... what Playstation was doing years ago. And here in this gen Playstation is focusing on what matters to gamers right now (indie, sharing, dlc, quality games, online functionality, etc...). Its really funny MS's big thing is "You can talk to your system". Save the talking for conversations between people. :) So I predict the next xbox after xbox one will have what the PS4 has this generation. :) Sony won a long time ago and MS will always be playing catch-up.

Kujel s
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Sadly for indie developers self-publishing on systems like this are largely a waste, besides your game is tucked away in a corner it is over shadowed by the big budget guys. People don't buy these machines expecting good gameplay they buy them expecting shinny graphics and many indie games struggle to compete with that. I expect sony's indie channel to be at best no better then XBLIG but more likely worse.

Jarod Smiley
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Change starts somewhere doesn't it? Because consoles are simply known for big budget games Sony should just play to it's strengths and ignore this surge of new developers with creativity and new ideas? They're trying, and that has to count for something.

Also, while I maybe in the majority as a forum guru, spreading information and exposure may begin to change what mainstream gaming means, and get more people involved into these excellent less exposed titles.

James Coote
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You can't expect the store to do all your marketing for you


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