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How self-publishing on PlayStation has evolved in the last year
How self-publishing on PlayStation has evolved in the last year
July 8, 2014 | By Mike Rose

July 8, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

A year ago, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Agostino Simonetta discussed exactly where his team was up to with regards to self-publishing on PlayStation 4. Today at Develop Conference, Simonetta explained how this process has evolved in the last 12 months.

Simonetta had previously said that Sony's approach to PS4 self-publishing was centered around the phrase, "Every developer is a publisher." He noted that 12 months later, there are now over 1000+ licensed PlayStation developers, and over 100 games have been self-published on PlayStation platforms.

But he admitted that at the time, PlayStation was still quite a walled garden, and that SCE still needed to work hard to provide better self-publishing on PlayStation for developers.

"Our commitment was that we were going to fix this as much as we could, as fast as we could," he notes -- and he believes that today, that process is far more streamlined.

The original concept submission review process has been completely replaced, for example, such that absolutely any game can self-publish for PlayStation, with less focus on what Sony thinks about your game.

"We don't stop you if your game isn't particularly good," Simonetta says, "but if a game is good, we work closely with those developers."

And he adds, "As of today, Format QA is only about the technical requirement checklist. We took a step back. It's your responsibility if your game is buggy - it's a more modern approach." He says that this approach has cut the time down to get through QA by 30 percent.

All of this has resulted in more developers getting their games on PlayStation platforms far more quickly, he reasons.

"In the past we were taking 2-3 weeks to get your title through," he says. "Now, once the title passes, it can go live the very next week." Sony says it is also currently working to make this process even faster, with a streamlining project the team is yet to announce.

"Sometimes it hurts, but we learn a lesson."

As part of the talk, Simonetta invited developers from UK studios Roll7 and Team17 up talk about their experiences -- and Team17's Michael Torode in particular took the opportunity to explain what he felt was wrong with the PSN store.

The PSN store feels like a magazine rather than a useful digital store, says Torode, and it's very difficult to actually find interesting games you want to download.

And he noted that Sony can be bad at sticking to promotion promises. "We agreed with Sony on a promotion, but one week before the promotion we were told we were pulled from the promotion," he explained. "The store team were busy, but that's a discussion for the negotiation stage."

Simonetta took the stand after Torode to say, "Sometimes it hurts [to hear criticism], but we learn a lesson."

"Engagement is listening to people, learning, and sharing," he said. "Team 17 always give us a hard time, telling us what worked for them and what didn't."

He noted that having developers speak out about what Sony is doing wrong can only make the company work harder and better. He added, "We don't just disregard it, thinking that we know better."

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Guillermo Aguilera
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I hope this was true, sony TRCs is a Nightmare.

Steve Cawood
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I'm loving working with Sony. Nothing but good things to say about my experiences so far. Hope they keep up the good work.

Benjamin McCallister
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Steve, I have yet to hear any success stories about targeting PS4 as a platform as compared to say steam. That is to say, as a solo developer working on an ambitious next gen level game, I haven't found a valid reason to spend my valuable time trying to focus on PS4 as a platform when I feel steam can provide me a better return on my investment.

Your thoughts?

Mike Griffin
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Release on both PS4 and Steam if possible.
One is 9 months old, the other is 11 years old.
Both are pretty good for the small developer, and both continue to make improvements to their storefront/service.

Benjamin McCallister
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Thank you for the feedback Mike. I suppose my stance is, I have yet to see any financial posts that breakdown profits made by deploying through PS4.

Whereas on steam I have a good idea of what the game will sell and have even read many post mortems on the greenlight process and read unspecific financials on games that have released.

IE: If my game makes $100,000 on steam, what will it do on PS4.

Matt Boudreaux
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"In an interview with Eurogamer in late April 2014, Thorson says TowerFall, in its various forms, has grossed over $500,000, with the PlayStation 4 version surpassing Ouya and Steam for best overall sales. "

I imagine that has more to do marketing that Sony helped them with than the platform, but still. As I recall the Klei guys were surprised by the massive amount of sales they saw from the PS4 as well but I don't know where it falls relative to their steam sales.

EDIT: Link to interview:

Benjamin McCallister
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Good call up Matt. I had read that article. I attribute his success to a very particular set of circumstances and not necessarily an indicator of Ps4's ability to be a profitable platform for a small developer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being argumentative because I enjoy the fight, I own a PS4 and was going down the path of getting a dev kit, but I stalled on it because I can't afford to do anything that distracts me from the steam release at the end of the year unless it is a garunteed drop in the bucket increase of revenue.

Jarod Smiley
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^Hmm...also look into what type of game you are making and what the biggest indy hits on PS4 do. I know there's certain genres I really don't want to play on anything but a console and vice versa. Wouldn't help to show something to Sony as well, if you have something unique, I've read many times you'll be put into Shahid's Tweets and on the PSblog.

Jan Cabuk
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It is not only about the simple point - I can self-publish. The publishing itself is about platform knowlenge, price and store strategies and also about your target audience and what the PS players are used to. Sony is still big corporation and they operate in different regions with different languages and different audience. Which means for you even more work :) Personaly, there are still two sides - development and publishing. Sony is trying to make everything looks easy for newcommers but still you have to count with not small investments and knowlenge. From my experience as producer at Grip Games, which is publisher for indie developers specialising on PlayStation, is that going through all the technical and administrative processes is not quick and one click task. I like Sony and PS devices and I think that the rules, guides, restrictions and heavy company structure is good because then the customer(player) gets well working game and the developer is forced to do his best for that. If you have questions, feel free to message me as we know how to open doors for your game at Sony.