If you’re wondering why PS5 and PS4 indie games aren’t discounted as often or frequent as their Steam and Xbox counterparts, a lot of it has to do with Sony. Iain Garner, boss of indie publisher Neon Doctrine took to Twitter to explain why certain titles don’t make it to Sony’s consoles and why some don’t get discounted at all. While Garner didn’t name Sony outright, calling it ‘Platform X’ instead, multiple developers speaking to IGN India on condition of anonymity confirm that the policies Garner refers to are exclusive to Sony for PS4 and PS5 game development.
”In order to get promotion you must jump through hoops, beg and plead for any level of promotion,” he tweeted. “And a blog is not as good as they think it is. If Platform X doesn’t like your game, no fanfare no feature no love.”
What’s more is, Sony evaluates what games get featured and promoted. The process is far from transparent Garner noted. The only way for a developer to ensure their game is featured is to pay $25,000 to Sony, Garner claims.
“Wishlists have no effect, so all your personal marketing means nothing to Platform X,” he continued in a follow up tweet. “All that matters is their evaluation. How is this evaluation done? Dunno, they don’t share that, nor will they share the value they ascribe to my game.”
Furthermore, Sony’s policies regarding discounts is so restrictive that developers can’t even do a launch discount without Sony’s approval which is termed as “very limited”.
”In conclusion, Platform X is super successful and awesome hardware but their backend and process if straight out of the early 00s,” he says. “I have no idea how to succeed on this platform and they wont tell me. Even if I do succeed, they may screw me anyway…”
Finally, Garner stated that if gamers are unhappy about an indie game not making it on those platforms, they should complain to Platform X aka Sony.
It’s interesting to see such a volte face in developer opinion regarding Sony. The company appeared to have embrace independent creators with the advent of the PS Vita as well as the PS4. However since claiming a dominant position in the market, its focus appears to be on big AAA games rather than promoting or helping out indie efforts.
Granted it makes commercial sense when you’re targeting the widest possible demographic, but it doesn’t further gaming as an art form or even surfacing a variety of games to the PS5 and PS4 userbase.
This becomes a bigger problem when you consider that Nintendo and Microsoft have taken greater strides in bringing indies to the fold in recent memory.
During the ID@Xbox and Twitch Gaming Indie Showcase, ID@Xbox boss Chris Carla revealed how indie developers have been doing on Microsoft’s independent developer program. According to Carla, indie developers have earned over $2 billion in the last seven years.
“I don’t want to be crass but indie developers on ID@Xbox have earned over $2 billion in the last seven years,” he said during the livestream. A post on the official Xbox site elaborated further, stating that 2,000 games had been launched through the ID@Xbox program since its inception seven years back.
It’s interesting to see Microsoft break out numbers regarding this. More so when it hasn’t been the first port of call for many game developers until very recently. However with the program resulting in the likes of made-in-India adventure Raji: An Ancient Epic on the platform along with a slew of titles from the likes of Pune-based Godspeed Games, it seems that ID@Xbox has done its fair share of democratising game development outside of the usual set of studios concentrated in the US and Europe.