PlayStation 4 is The One

“What are you going to do when XBLIG is gone?”  I’ve been getting this since the start of the year.  It’s something I’ve thought about myself.  I figured the obvious answer was “I’ll be doing everything!”  I’ve always owned the full slate of consoles and handhelds, and indies are hot right now.  Not just hot, but courting indies makes sound economic sense.  They assume all the costs of development.  They put in all the R&D.  The console manufactures just take a royalty off the top and that’s it.  Easy money.  Indies also serve other important functions.  They prepare a new generation of super-star game developers.  Today’s indies will create tomorrow’s triple-A titles.  Indies provide content during off-peak months, which is the very thing that got Indie Gamer Chick started in the first place.  They also provide much-needed content that is not on-trend, assuring that a platform has something for everybody.  They take the risks that major studios can’t (even if they want to), because they have to be fiscally responsible to employees and shareholders.  Indies have no such limitations.

In short, indies are now necessary to a platform’s health.

Whether anyone believes it or not, representatives from all three major console developers have a fondness for indies and a desire to shine the spotlight on them.  They understand the drive to create and the need for creative freedom.  They also know that it just makes sound business sense.

Xbox One, named as such because it weighs one stone.

Xbox One, named as such because it weighs one stone.

Some out there will probably argue against this.  “No, Microsoft couldn’t possibly care less about indies.  Nintendo too.”  Um, no.  You’re just wrong.  Maybe their corporate policies don’t always reflect it, but people who love indies do hold key positions at these companies.  If you can’t grasp that, you should probably just stop reading now.

Indies will factor into the Xbox One.  More than just Minecraft too.  Whether Microsoft has said anything yet or not, that’s irrelevant to whether indies will exist on the platform, or whether it ever allows for self publishing.  They know the economics of it.  Trust me, I’ve spent my entire adult life in business.  When Microsoft had to cut million-dollar checks to a couple of XBLIG developers, it made ripples in Redmond.  I can’t fathom it being otherwise.  If it’s not true, then they have problems beyond my scope of comprehension.

Nintendo is on board too.  I know they’re taking indies seriously.  They’ve eased off of some pretty silly policies.  Stuff like only allowing for development on their platforms if you make the games in a dedicated office that has a lock.  Yes, because industrial espionage is what’s going to bring about the downfall of Nintendo.  Not the fact that, you know, they haven’t released a first-party game since launch.  But Nintendo has thrown that rule in the trash.  Not only that, but they’re openly courting indies.  They’re opening up their platforms for self-publishing.  They’re attempting to give indie developers a platform to not only exist on, but profit on.  I’ve been hard on Nintendo here, but they’ve earned my respect in this regard.  Nintendo’s tent has room for indies.

Can't believe I'm saying this, but the Wii U's console is actually the nicest looking one of this generation.  The Gamepad?  Not so much.

Can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Wii U’s console is actually the nicest looking one of this generation. The Gamepad? Not so much.

I’ve never understood the whole “this console is my team” mentality of gamers.  I get it when it’s done among children.  Mommy and daddy only buy Junior one console, and that console becomes his team.  He cheers his team on and boos his team’s opponents.  But for adults who can choose their own consoles, and presumably own more than one, it just baffles me.  Now while I’ve certainly made it clear what console I think is posed to be the most successful, that shouldn’t be mistaken for them being “my team.”  I don’t have a team.  I have three consoles that will each provide me with a vastly different experience.  I’m excited for my future as a gamer, because gaming just keeps getting better and better.  Today, Microsoft and Sony both showed me games that will dominate my free time and drain my wallet, and I expect more of the same tomorrow from Nintendo.  I’m only Indie Gamer Chick on here.  I’m Cathy at all other times, and Cathy has three shiny new consoles to make her imagination run wild.

But, for Indie Gamer Chick, the choice is clear.

PlayStation 4 is the one.

It’s Sony who has told indies “we want you.”  They’ve said it publicly.  They’ve said it clearly.  They’ve given the sentimentality that you’re part of our family, not a party crasher.  For Nintendo, they were too slow to woo.  Before that?  They treated indies like a house guest that you welcome into your home but then follow around like you’re afraid they’re going to steal something.

And Microsoft?  They deserve a tip of the hat for creating the first self-publishing platform on a major console.  But XBLIGs were the black sheep from day one and Microsoft did nothing to alleviate that.  They were something that just sort of was allowed to be there, like a child whose parents force him to invite the freckled kid with the bad body odor to his birthday party.  I’m not saying the games should have been promoted to the determent of titles from major third parties.  Anyone who believes that is delusional.  I’m saying that Microsoft showed total disregard for the platform they created for indies, and they’ve given no reason to believe they’ll be any better this next generation.  And hell, that’s not including their treatment of those lucky developers who got a game published on Xbox Live Arcade.  Just ask the guys behind Fez.  I do fundamentally understand Microsoft’s want for glitch-free games on their platform, but modern game development is a complex thing.  The best, most-well funded developers on the planet struggle with debugging.  Patching of games is now simply part of game production.  Doing so shouldn’t put smaller producers in fiscal danger.  Spin it any way you like.  It’s just plain morally wrong.

Comment of the day from Twitter: "It looks like an italicized Xbox One." It really does.

Comment of the day from Twitter: “It looks like an italicized Xbox One.” It really does.

Indies will always be more dominant on the PC scene, and newcomers like Ouya (which yes, will be covered soon at Indie Gamer Chick) are arriving and openly courting the development community.  They’ll all have a place at Indie Gamer Chick.  I’ve already had a little coverage of Wii U games, and trust me, more is on the way.  Xbox One’s indie scene, no matter what form it takes, will be a part of this site.  My new writers Jerry and Kalle will cover those platforms I don’t.  And, until someone turns the lights out, Xbox Live Indie Games will be featured here, and prominently at that.

But for the next generation, PlayStation 4 is it.  It will be the primary focus of my site, the same way XBLIGs have been for the last two years.  Why?  Well, it has nothing to do with the focus on non-gaming applications.  Hey, I use those too!  It has nothing to do with the used game stuff.  I’ve planned on taking a no-plastic, all-digital pledge for this generation anyway.  It has nothing to do with Kinect because.. well actually I hate Kinect, but it still doesn’t factor in.  It’s because this is the platform I feel indies are most positioned to thrive on.  Where their creativity will be nurtured, their passion will be unchained, and most importantly, where they have the best chance of making something of themselves.  For two years, the indie game development community has been incredible to me.  You guys have changed my life like you can’t believe.  I might be harsh on your games sometimes, but I’m always hopeful of your success and proud of you when you’re triumphant.  I want what’s best for you.  I’m going with PlayStation 4, because that’s where your best chances are.  But, no matter what platform you develop for, the Golden Age of indies is about to dawn, and I’ve never been more excited.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

14 Responses to PlayStation 4 is The One

  1. I was checking out the Playstation developer program (http://us.playstation.com/develop/), and it does look like they are opening up the console for developers to self publish. However, on XBLIG if you gave Microsoft $99, anyone could immediately submit a game and have it on the Marketplace immediately after it has been peer reviewed. According to the signup on the Playstation site, it looks more like they expect you to be functioning as a business. This is something that is recommended by Microsoft, but not required. The only time a business entity came into question is for getting paid, but Microsoft also accepted a personal identification number for tax purposes. Sony on the other hand requires an “application” to be submitted, containing information such as your development experience, product history, product plans for the next 12 months, and personnel details. It almost feels like you are submitting them a resume, which could be their way of filtering out all of the undesirable developers. I think this is perfectly fine, but I’m skeptical about how many developer applications will pass their submission process. No doubt this is much better than having to find a publisher or go through a GreenLight process, but it still doesn’t seem to be as open as XBLIG. The Playstation program also requires a static IP, which is something that a developer working out of his or her home using cable internet access won’t have.
    My second concern about developing for the Playstation is that it sounds like a dev kit will still be required in order to develop for the console. This just feels like another added constraint, especially after getting XNA Game Studio and Visual Studio C# Express for free from Microsoft for so long. Dev kits can cost thousands of dollars, but the Playstation site does claim to have a loaner program, however I’m sure those are very limited.
    The Playstation site also doesn’t have any information about their payment methods. They only claim to pay royalties upon release of your game WITH platform exclusivity. Again, they don’t go into details, but that doesn’t sound like a good thing. I will need to read the fine details in the developer agreement. I always thought that Microsoft’s 70/30 split was fair, but I’ve never been a fan of not getting a payout until passing a certain threshold.
    I’m optimistic about the Playstation developer program, but it doesn’t sound like it is going to be as open as Sony is making it out to be.

    • In the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing just how aggressive Sony is on it. They’ve approached some devs who are much smaller than you would expect to be wooed by such a large conglomerate.

      As for the loaner program, you should probably think of it as a no-interest loan. They’ll take a larger cut of royalty off the top until the investment of the kit is paid off, at which point it will revert to the standard royalty model. The smart money is on them doing that.

  2. maximinusgames says:

    I’m currently developing for XBLIG. Next year, I plan on transitioning to PS4 and/or XboxOne. I also found that Sony’s message is not clear enough. I didn’t find any good answers to some fundamental questions such as ‘how do we get paid’, ‘what are the technical and commercial requirements …’

  3. John M says:

    Well, I will be following you over to PS4. The used game stuff, the game ownership issue, madatory Kinect and online obligations are ALL factors in my decision but I am a HUGE fan of Indie games and I want to be where the best ones are going to be. I always come here to check for a review before dropping my M$ points on a game and it looks like I will not have to find a new source for my pre-purchase reviews.

  4. Jim Perry says:

    If Microsoft doesn’t get their act together and talk about indie from a developer standpoint, I might actually consider moving my game dev to PS4. I’ll still be playing on X1 though. It would suck to have to shell out money for both when I don’t even have time to play all the games I already have for the 360. 😦

  5. AxelMill98 says:

    I just love this article. I can’t disagree on anything.

    Also, “OMG KINGDOM HEARTS 3 FTW XD LOL!”

  6. I would love to develop for the PS4. The burning question right now is, do they have a path from XNA to their hardware? If not, I’ll have to look at the cost of porting my games, and do the math to see if it is going to cover the cost.

    This is an exciting E3, for the first time in a long time!

  7. Matt says:

    I’ll be moving to PS4 for gaming, but I’ve still not heard enough about what either side is offering hobbyist Indies to make a decision about what I’ll do about writing games. I hope it ends up also being PS4 but I’ll have to see how things pan out.

  8. Xionix says:

    What!!! Next-gen is already here? But I bough my 360 like 3 months ago. I stopped buying consoles at launch since I have to buy them with my own money. But I will not go next-gen until I see Super Meat Boy 2, so, give me Super Chuleta 2: Las Carnes Perdidas, y así, y solo así, hablaremos next-gen. But if I have choose, guess it will be PS4, indies plus exclusives is a win-win… still sad that I can’t experience The Last Of Us.

  9. Pingback: Excited about Examples at E3 | Healing the masses

  10. Mike says:

    I think they “have problems beyond my scope of comprehension” – a few million dollar titles from minecraft clones are not causing any changes and not with MineCraft The Real Thing! already announced for X1. Microsoft is inside of a bubble right now, and don’t see things as outsiders do. I can barely hold a conversation with anyone working there now because they just don’t see the market as everyone else (and this includes non-game stuff as well).

    Anyway…

    Sony and Nintendo are already partnered with Unity to offer support for their platforms (including PS4). True at the moment both still have some hurdles to cross to get to publish and it’s not XBLIG/iOS style, but things look to be moving in the right direction and it will take time for them both to adjust (poor sales of their platforms actually help for as AAA back away Indies can fill the void).

    Microsoft still has to announce a self publish option (by this I mean, not require a publisher and work directly with developers). Talking to Microsoft Studios is not this, that is a publisher. Then Microsoft have to announce a technology platform, if they were smart it would be Unity plus whatever else they wanted but for Indies seeking revenue you cannot afford not to look at Unity (free now for PC, Mac, Linux, Web, iOS, Android, WP8 and BB10 even). There is still //Build so hope isn’t dead yet, but if more nothing comes from //Build then it will be hard to believe there is any plan.

    Personally, my console war this year is 3DS vs Vita – both of these are getting interesting, and both platforms holders are more open to Indies here than their living room systems. I’m quite happy to wait a year on X1 and PS4 to see how it all plays out, plus I have all these Steam games to play…

  11. Pingback: Indie Links Round-Up: The Spies Have Eyes | The Indie Game Magazine - Indie Game Reviews, Previews, News & Downloads

  12. Pingback: Indie Links Round-Up: The Spies Have Eyes « DIYGamer

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