Why Sony Thinks Its Indie Strategy Can't Just Be Copied

Although other companies can focus on indie games, Sony has an executive-level love for small developers, the company explains.

Upcoming indie game The Witness

It's been apparent since the announcement of the PlayStation 4 a year and a half ago that Sony is focusing on indie games in addition to AAA titles. Its past two E3 press conferences have been full of indies. In May, Sony vice president Adam Boyes even said that indies are the "heartbeat of the industry."

According to Sony executives, this isn't just a surface-level commitment. They say that anyone can put money into indie publishing, but few can match the love for small developers that exists even on the corporate level.

In a recent interview with Gamesindustry International, software product development head Scott Rohde described the depth of commitment to indies that Sony has fostered in the past few years. He argues that, while the acts can be copied, the spirit of Sony's indie policies cannot. "Sure, it could be replicated by someone else, but it can't be replicated in a corporate-style way," he explained. "It's not something you put on your business plan and say 'Let's go make this happen.' It's because the people--Shahid [Ahmad], Adam Boyes, Nick Suttner, Brian Silva, myself, Shu Yoshida--there's a genuine love there, and people feel that."

"Whenever folks from any of the Worldwide Studios America team would show up at any room, any event, whatever," he continued, "the quote they used was they felt like the prettiest girl in the room. When the PlayStation guy would walk in the room, the indies would flock to them, because there's a genuine love there and they want to be part of that."

How did Sony stimulate this change in attitude? The PlayStation 3 was notorious for having difficult development cycles that weren't conducive to indie developers. Rohde explains that it was not so much a shift in corporate policy as it was a change in personnel. "To be quite frank, within the [Sony Computer Entertainment America] walls, there's been some turnover of staff. In the past there might have been some people who were more inclined toward the corporate side of business who would manage those relationships."

At E3 2014, Sony announced a couple new indie titles including Entwined, and reaffirmed support for upcoming games like The Witness, No Man's Sky, Axiom Verge, and many others.

To me, it seems like the new focus is working for Sony. I'm excited by No Man's Sky and The Witness, and I enjoy the increasing number of excellent indie games being ported to PlayStation systems. What do you think of Sony's commitment to indie titles? Let us know in the comments!

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121 comments
noncasualgamer
noncasualgamer

99% indies, 1% multiplats. Not very surprising that no one is copying them.

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

It's called the holy shit we have no games for our new console until 2015, Indie strategy.


I appreciate Indie games but need something more than just "hey look how retro our game is" kind of Indie.


I'm excited for games like Below and No man sky.

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

why is Gamespots facebook page reposting old articles.....

pspearman
pspearman

I suppose if your own studios are struggling to get games out that are worth playing you need to get them from somewhere. Indie games are fine but they are not worth buying a console for. Stop re-organising your studios and get them working!

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

Well that's all well and good but I haven't found an amazing indie title on a Sony platform since Guacamelee.


No Mans Sky, Grim Fandango, and New and Tasty have potential.


But if any gamer wants the latest indie masterpiece that is for die-hard gamers 'Shovel Knight'? It's on 3DS/Wii U/& P.C.


If Sony really are as dedicated as they say? Grab this game, it's so freaking good :)


I'm not hating PS4 indies, but best they've brought that wasn't on X1 or Wii U is Mercenary Kings.

lostn
lostn

Can't wait for Rime and NMS.

59Hertz
59Hertz

So I'm always seeing Gamespot users who complain that "graphics aren't everything, It's all about the gameplay".
 Then I come here and see nothing but complaints about how indie games look old and are short and blah blah blah.
 A lot of these indie games have a lot more creativity, better stories etc than most of the "AAA" games.
 
What we get for AAA is hit and miss. The ever present 5 hour COD with it's popular MP, The ever so repetitive  Assassins Creed. Another Halo, Another shitty unfinished Battlefield etc. 
 
There are a few decent AAA titles, but basically nowadays AAA just means they threw a bunch of money at something. Even if that something is a pile of crap.

oflow
oflow

@59Hertz you have have to look at the other side of the coin though. A lot of indie games are fairly generic 2D platformers too.

As someone that grew up in the 70s playing 2d platformers because thats all we had, I personally dont really care for them that much because I played literally hundreds of them between my intellivision, atarti 2600 and my commodore 64.

Theres a difference between creative gameplay indie games (Journey, Fat Princess, Dont Starve, Magicka) and another generic 16bit dungeon crawler that Steam is literally flooded with.

I personally would like to see more 'happy medium' games.  I dont really care about cry engine or how great The Order looks.  I want memorable fun gameplay like say Rayman Legends or Rogue Squadron III.  (Yes I know RL is a platformer but its an exception not the norm)

59Hertz
59Hertz

@oflow I agree with you on that. I would love to get another Rogue Squadron and I'm still in the process of completing Rayman Legends.

A8ADD0N
A8ADD0N

@deathstream 


Absolutely. Indie devs, just like any other devs out there, are going to want to make the most money they can. The best way for them to do that is to obviously put their games out on as many platforms as possible.

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

Originally I disliked indie games.  Why?  Because they often reminded me of the terrible Android and iOS microtransaction "scams."  But as I've played JOURNEY, BROFORCE, GUACAMELEE, HOTLINE MIAMI and others, my mind has changed.  I still look to AAA's as console pillars, but indies are quickly competing for the same value.  When I want to play APOTHEON and SECRET PONCHOS as much as the new ASSASSIN'S CREED, something big has changed in the console arena (at least for me).    

ghostpez8
ghostpez8

I purchased my ps4 to play games like Axiom Verge. Yes, there are AAA titles I am excited about, but I am having a blast with indie games like Resogun, Transistor, Guacamelee, 1001 Spikes...its a great time to be a gamer!

skiggy34
skiggy34

So far this new gen I like Dead Nation, Outlast and Resogun.  Thats it.  Hopefully better ones are on their way. These 8-bit nonsense games wont cut it.  I'm sorry but Octodad sucks, Transistor sucks, Contrast sucks and anything that looks almost 20 yrs old sucks....  I didn't buy a ps4 to play 8 or 16bit games...  

A8ADD0N
A8ADD0N

@skiggy34 


Nah. Octodad, Transisotr, and Contrast don't look like they're 20 years old. Are you blind? And Transistor is great, if not a bit short.

sakaixx
sakaixx

I enjoy indies, mind you that indie dev have created amazing games such as guacamelee, hotline miami, flower, journey and the upcoming no man's sky. Indie is actually awesome if you give it chance.


Anyway I'm supporting this, those guys who run ps4 better release more indies cause those games are AMAZING !

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

@sakaixx What I enjoy most with indies is that 1) many have great gameplay on a budget; I can afford to buy many indies for the price of one AAA game 2) good indies often have a strong sense of style and personality that often lacks in AAA 

xxstrghtmnyxx
xxstrghtmnyxx

Can't wait for the whole indie fad to fade away so that the focus can shift to truly memorable experiences.

Lt_Logan
Lt_Logan

@skiggy34 Even better comment.


/s

mikec11169
mikec11169

Indie games can only take a console so far, before people start clamoring for a game that will define the system to come out. I love a lot of these new releases, but sometimes I feel like they over price the hell out of some of them, which in turn stops me from buying them.

Vegeta-sama
Vegeta-sama

It means nothing because Indies first love will always be PC and PS4 isn't exactly getting decked with indie exclusives especially with the shared hardware 

VegasAceVII
VegasAceVII

"Blah, blah, blah, we're are the best place to play indies."

rasterror
rasterror

No, the best place to play free to play games. Do you not watch their conference?

Sun-Tzu-GE
Sun-Tzu-GE

I can't wait for this indie fad to die out so we can finally get back to real games.I didn't buy a next gen console to play games which look and feel like they were made for the PS1.

rasterror
rasterror

I like having both. Indie games are like the sides to a main course meal.

Sun-Tzu-GE
Sun-Tzu-GE

@jeager_titan @Sun-Tzu-GE I enjoyed Gone Home and that's about it.I really don't understand what all the hype about No man's sky is.It's pretty and it has an infinite possibility of planets.But it seems like there isn't anything interesting to do in it. 

jeager_titan
jeager_titan

@Sun-Tzu-GE Well I think the indies are stepping up their game. With games like No Mans Sky, the Forest etc, future indie devs needs to come out of the 8-bit sidescroller bubble.

Lt_Logan
Lt_Logan

@Sun-Tzu-GE @jeager_titan The thing to keep in mind here is that these indie games aren't detracting at all from you getting your "real games". In fact it can have the opposite effect. It's very truly possible for both AAA games and indie games to exist together, that's exactly the situation right now. It's the folks making AAA games that need to step up their creative efforts in many cases. 

hystavito
hystavito

@Sun-Tzu-GE @jeager_titan I am also wondering what there really will be to do in No Man's Sky, but it's early so who knows.  Initially I felt like people were just gushing over the heavily stylized art, and maybe they were, but after seeing interviews there does seem to be a lot more to the game than that.

bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

I'd be furious if I shelled out $400 for the supposedly most powerful console in history and all they do is talk about indies and f2p games. Then trot out their movie and TV shows and an overpriced game streaming service to hide a lack of BC. Yet people including the author of this article is just eating it up. 

rasterror
rasterror

Especially when you're claiming to have the most powerful console. It's like buying a Ferrari and {not be allowed to drive in the slow lane or on toll bridges.

rasterror
rasterror

And then him telling you that next year maybe you'll be able to drive on normal roads and maybe even a race track. Just maybe.

skiggy34
skiggy34

@bunchanumbers I think you are absolutely right...  I bought a ps4 day one and this is not what I expected at all.  I have no problem saying that and I think a lot of people who bought ps4s werent expecting this neither, now everyone is trying to justify it because they can't admit they were wrong.  I love my Sony consoles but honestly I think Sony is so broke they need these indie devs to keep people occupied until they can fund 1st party titles...  This years E3 was terrible for Sony.  Most the indies they showed are multi plats and they showed a couple exclusives that actually interest me.  This is why I am fortunate to own other consoles because where Sony is lacking MS is soaring and last gen sometimes it was vice versa.  I just hope more indies can look more like Outlast because these 8 bit crap games I dont want....

bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

@rasterror Could you imagine? You put down the cash for the Ferrari and the dealer starts to talk to you  about how you can use this for picking up groceries. Or how great it idles in traffic? You would look at him like he was insane. 

bunchanumbers
bunchanumbers

@skiggy34 @bunchanumbers People are trying to justify their purchase. All we'd hear is 'POWAH of PS4! Greatness Awaits! etc. Sony is still trying to sell the image of power. But all this talk about indies and all their non game stuff and its pretty clear that its a bait and switch. Yet most media and fanboys still like to act like its the second coming. 

rasterror
rasterror

How can you copy Sony seeing that they already tried copying Steam?

hitomo
hitomo

I have News for you ... as soon as you partner with sony, you stop being an Indie



hitomo
hitomo

@Barighm @hitomo  indie stands for independant developer ... how can you be indiependant if you under contract with a biger company above you ? (regardless wich company)

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

Sony isn't necessarily paying for the development or contributing staff to indie games that come to their platform.

The majority of indie titles sign the necessary agreements to be a Playstation developer and that's as far as the relationship goes.

The games still come from indie development t houses.

Where it's hard to draw a line is when a AAA Punlisher puts out an "indie" title. But that's a minority I. The scope of the games announced by Sony at E3.

hitomo
hitomo

@Hvac0120  I think the term Indie just cant applie to console market, on PC you cvan just produce something and start Marketing it and you are indeed an Indie ... while you have to go to sony or MS if you want to produce for their consoles ... you Need to buy the dev kit, you need to meet the (rather strict) quality standarts ... on x360 for instance it wasnt allowed to have loading times longer then 45sec ... (remember the first AC or may payne 3 in this regards ^^)

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

To me and Indie title is something that was created with a small budget and small team.

The terms for the platforms those games are deployed doesn't change that.

hitomo
hitomo

@Hvac0120  then sonys Marketing Manipulators have done there work on you if you really think indie just equals small steam and small Budget ... dude, that Definition is totally ignoring the meaning of the term 'indiependant'

Lt_Logan
Lt_Logan

@hitomo @Hvac0120 I think you're both missing something here. Indie doesn't necessary have anything to do with team size. It means you're beholden to nothing but your own creative juices. Conversely, putting a game on Sony's platform doesn't make you beholden to them, that's the entire point of their more open stance on indie's. They're still "indie". 

Barighm
Barighm

I say Sony is being a little arrogant because platforms like Steam do the indie thing so much better, but I'm glad to see they're trying and I agree entirely indies are the future. It's the same design philosophy that made the SNES and PS1 era so great, and it's the success of those small studios that helped make the PS2 era so great. It's the strangling cost of the PS3/360 era that cut down on the number of new and upcoming devs (9 times out of 10, that "great new studio" from the last era was just people from another successful studio reforming).


It's important to have a steady flow of new and exciting properties stacked up against the established franchises. It looks like the PS4 will have this, the great multiplats, and the Japanese exclusives you can't quite get anywhere else but consoles (that and the 3DS).

gamer112696
gamer112696

I'm glad Sony supports as many types of games as possible. Although I'm not a fan of indie games and this doesn't affect me, this will make many playstation owners very happy. I can see that Sony and Microsoft are both competing in the indie games thing for both the X1 and PS4. Maybe I'll gain interest in indie games one day, but for now I will stick with my great selection of AAA games for my X1 and PS4.

Barighm
Barighm

@gamer112696 So long as you're not confusing "indie games" with those crappy mobile games, and giving the REAL indie studios a chance. Do you plan to play Star Citizen, an INDIE game? How about Wildstar? Everyone loves Telltale's Walking Dead series.