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Sony sweet-talks indies at Gamescom:  'A renaissance of gaming is coming'
Sony sweet-talks indies at Gamescom: 'A renaissance of gaming is coming'
August 20, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

At Sony's Gamescom press conference in Cologne, Germany, the company unveiled a much-anticipated price drop to the PlayStation Vita, as well as a robust, indie-focused lineup for its family of consoles.

Following a global reveal of the PlayStation 4 UI, which was delivered in complete silence to a packed auditorium, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe executive vice president Jim Ryan was the first to take the stage, announcing LittleBigPlanet Hub, a free-to-play service for PlayStation 3.

Ryan then transitioned to announcing three new "megapacks" for the European PlayStation Vita market, as well as Borderlands 2, independent titles including Starbound, Murasaki Baby by recently formed studio Ovosonico, and -- to the audible surprise of the audience -- Polytron's Fez. These, Ryan said, were just the first of a "long list" of indies promised for the platform.

SCEE senior business development manager Shahid Ahmad picked up on listing off indie console debut exclusives for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, announcing Rogue Legacy, Mike Bithell's Volume, N++ and Hotline Miami 2. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is also bound for the platforms, and would be free for PS Plus users.

"We make no secret of how much we love indie games," said Ahmad.

Also announced for PlayStation 4 were Mojang's Minecraft, Tequila Works' Rime and The Chinese Room's Everyone Gone to Rapture.

PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny kept momentum going, promising that the next-generation console was designed with "quicker, economical, efficient" development in mind. "By game creators, for game creators," he said.

Cerny also stated the PlayStation 4 would be a return to form for the brand, "supporting a broad variety of experiences ... creative freedom and broad content that made the first PlayStation so enjoyable." To that end, Cerny stated that the PlayStation 4 was designed with improving the "presence and visibility" of indies in mind, adding Unity support, financial support through incubation and programs such as the Sony Pub Fund, and loaner dev kits.

"We believe that a renaissance of gaming is coming," said Cerny.

In a further overture, the conference was punctuated with a video featuring indie superstars Honey Slug, Derek Yu, Mike Bithell and others espousing the strengths of PlayStation platforms, particularly the Vita.

Sony also announced a launch date for the PlayStation 4 in U.S. and European markets.

Finally, SCE president and group CEO Andrew House concluded the conference with a thinly veiled dig at Microsoft's repeated modifications to policies and features, saying: "While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining policies and a model that is fair and in tune with consumer desires."

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kevin wright
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"While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining policies..."

Um..., it wasn't that long ago when Sony pulled pretty much the same crap Msft did during the launch of PS3 and lost all the loyalty/developer equity they fostered over the years. They got cocky and lost their collective shirts. And yes, Msft now has a moment in history they wish they could undo, Here is the big difference- it took Sony YEARS to undo the damage. Msft may actually pull it off in months.

Comments like this are grandstanding, and make it seem that Sony has only changed on the surface (after all this was directly from SCE president). And if they've learned from their mistakes as claimed, I say act like it (i.e., get a spokesperson that represents that philosophy, instead of a braggart who isn't owning Sony's own history, much less the industry's). I'm all for competitive banter- but, sorry House, your dig was not honest.

All the BS above and aside, the incubator program they have created (Sony Pub Fund) is a step in the right direction. It has some great incentives for those it selects, but the funding is limited (20 mil) and there is no self publishing intent expressed. Unfortunately it will need to change dramatically if they want it to be as far reaching as many other options for indies out there like Kickstarter, Ouya, Google and even Msft's ID@xBox.

Merc Hoffner
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Third console syndrome!

Dave Long
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The comment is definitely on the nose, and there's no questioning the foolishness of Sony's approach to PS3, but there is also a substantial difference in the way that Microsoft and Sony approached their 'third console'* blunders. Sony pushed hard to introduce new tech (Cell chip) and media (Blu-ray) which were of benefit to gamers. Blu-ray was a good move as well. The Cell, on the other hand, was arrogance and a narrow focus on engineering at the expense of software development. But again, the Cell chip did deliver some of the best games this generation - there's nothing, at all, even close, to the Last of Us on competing consoles. Microsoft's blunder, on the other hand, was all about locking consumers in, extracting rents and fleecing them for all they were worth. Instead of just limiting it to gamers, though, they're clearly looking to lock in broader entertainment consumers behind a paywall, and this is where they've been going.

Both companies stuffed up. One company stuffed up trying to push things forward with too narrow a perspective, the other stuffed up by trying to extract as much as possible from its consumers while providing barely anything new for it (this is _not_ new to Microsoft - they've been doing it with Office and Windows releases for over a decade - indeed, the move fits in with Microsoft's corporate history of establishing monopolies and then extracting rents - they're the communist corporation at the heart of a purportedly capitalist country ;)).

Of course, I think Sony should steer clear of childish stuff like that, but it seems par for the course these days. It does disappoint me, and I'd much rather they focussed on the games, but as long as the gaming media lap it up (and they did) they're just playing to the crowd.

* Far from a perfect 'third', but hey, it's a good trope :).

Jarod Smiley
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PR stuff was good...Like Cerny's vision.