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Sony: Support Indie Devs For The Sake Of Innovation

In order to maintain freshness, it's often a good idea to see what the little guys have to offer.

SCE boss Shuhei Yoshida told Develop that it's important for Sony to support the independent game designers; i.e., the "garage developers." Said Yoshida:

"As an industry, we have to support those smaller teams, and let them try out their ideas. Without doing so, the whole industry will stall, in terms of innovation."

To this point, Yoshida mentioned that the new PlayStation Vita has been made "to be as easy as possible for developers to use." The development kit "isn't too expensive," either, so a great many teams - even smaller, lesser-known studios - have a shot at making games for the new portable.

Sony continues to back smaller game studios on the PlayStation Network, as evidenced by the teams have already produced several full downloadable titles and Minis. Added Yoshida:

"Speaking on the issue of providing developers with a digital platform, Yoshida said: “Having the capability to sell their games on the network is key to giving those smaller teams an opportunity to come up with ideas, and sometimes invest their own money to come up with something special and have their projects meet with millions of users."

For the record, Sony's take on the matter seems to be running opposite to Nintendo's; Reggie Fils-Aime said they're "not looking to do business today with the garage developer." It just isn't business they "wish to pursue." Well, Microsoft certainly isn't interested, either, so Sony seems to be the only risk-taker out there.

Tags: sony, shuhei yoshida, game news, games industry

7/11/2011 8:47:15 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (42 posts)

Highlander
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 9:33:00 PM
Reply

*This*.

This is why Sony is the most beneficial console maker in gaming today. Unlike MS they don't use money muscle to buy exclusivity of third party games, and unlike Nintendo, they are prepared to try new things.

The fact that the head person at SCE says that supporting independent developers is essential to gaming; tells you more about who and what Sony is as a gaming company than anything else.

Last edited by Highlander on 7/11/2011 9:36:22 PM

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onyotix
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:44:28 PM

two thumbs up highlander...thats exactly what i wanted to say :)

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JMO_INDY
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 3:25:48 AM

HEY WOW WOW WOW, Forget your comment (though it is a valid, great, and much agreed with post) YOU CHANGED YOUR AVATAR!!!

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Fane1024
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:33:40 AM

Add one more female and your name, etc. will be pushed down below the image.

LOL I see it already is on replies.

I think you may be pushing the limitation on avatar size, but you've earned the right.

:D

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Qubex
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 8:37:18 AM

...and yet Homebrew developers have been completely side lined by Sony which contradicts exactly the intentions Sony have. I understand it though, Sony feel they can't control an open Homebrew market.

They want innovation but they want to control it. You can't blame them, they are a private company, but I still feel they have been overly harsh with this generation of Homebrew developers that already exist on the PS3 for example...

Having come from a background of the Commoder 64 and Commodore Amiga generations - where these computers where embraced by bedroom programmes that made everything from tech demos to full blown PD games and utilities - I was pretty much hoping Sony would permit this type of development on the PS3. Alas, we found out pretty quickly though how ruthless they have been in protecting their I.P.

It's nothing new, its just Sony saying - "yes, we want you to innovate and we will make the development kits cheap enough for you to do so, however, we have ultimate control over the product, how its distributed and whether or not it passes our quality and certification processes."

I think its good to sustain product quality, but that true freedom of developing tech demo's or apps a programmer may wish to have, is not really there from what I can see.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Last edited by Qubex on 7/12/2011 8:40:52 AM

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 1:24:54 PM

Qubex, It's not so much that they've sidelined bedroom dwevelopers. Such developers have never really been part of the console game equation. Sony is independent friendly because they have a streamlined publishing process for PSN distributed games and they have a whole section of their staff set aside to deal with independent developers. Of course they want some level of control, as we've seen in the world of networked consoles you need to be able to ensure that software running on the console meets certain quality and security constraints.

As much as we might wish that everyone could develop games in the bedroom like it was in the 8-bit days, things have moved quite far beyond that point, and the requirements for vetting developers and applications for network distribution and access have to be tight now. So those hobby devs really are going to have to learn to either focus on Linus and/or x86, and stop worrying about the console world.

Fane, I keep the filesize and height to a minimum. So far I haven't broken the limits, but if I do, I'll shrink the avatar a bit (width wise) and remove some characters to make sure it fits.

Last edited by Highlander on 7/12/2011 1:26:02 PM

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Wissam
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:52:22 PM

@TheHighlander

Is it me or your avatar is just getting bigger ?

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 5:30:53 PM

They keep multiplying!

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Fane1024
Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 6:47:41 AM

@ High

100% joking. Keep the ladies coming.

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SoulController
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:03:33 PM
Reply

The risk taking is turning out beautifully. Sony clearly has the best & most diverse exclusives.

And Damn right we better pay attention to the smaller developers & anyone trying something different. Sony themselves are proof of that when the psone first came out. Where would we be if we were still using cartridges today. gaming would probably still be considered a kids thing..

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Highlander
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:10:19 PM

Exactly. Of all the gaming companies, I feel like Sony has done most to grow with the industry without cutting off the loyal fans, they have continually sought out innovation. It's clear from these words (and their actions) that Sony sees growth, innovation and diversification as essential qualities for a successful future in gaming. Growing with gaming means that Sony has kept up with the consumers that started with the PlayStation all those years ago, but continues to serve new users and old alike.

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SoulController
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:30:31 PM

Yup, & in gaming you need your own lane. Microsoft wanted a piece of the loyal, gamers for life crowd. Sony pretty much has that audience on lock so I guess we can't fault MS for taking the sports & shooters only audience. It just angers me at how easily manipulated American gamers can be & not understand the value of having a console like PS3, pushing the envelope with its hardware & software

Last edited by SoulController on 7/11/2011 10:32:23 PM

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BTNwarrior
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:17:32 PM
Reply

well you have to give microsoft a little credit for xbox arcade titles, though that is it.

and they bought exclusivity for minecraft

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Highlander
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:28:29 PM

Why do I have to give them credit for XBox arcade titles? And how does that relate to this topic?

I mean, there are several things that I would credit Microsoft with, the formalized structure to online play is one of those things. But, although Microsoft pays lip service to independent development with Xbox Arcade, it's hardly the leading force in development.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 3:55:27 AM

"it's hardly the leading force in development" - hehe, no indeed not, I'd call that an understatement even. Usually they are the leading force *against* development.

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Fane1024
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:41:06 AM

High: "how does that relate to this topic?"
Ben: "Microsoft certainly isn't interested"
BTN: "give microsoft a little credit" (emphasis on "little")

I think he's referring primarily to the Indie section of XBLA and, if so, his point is absolutely valid. I was going to make that point, myself.

No one wants to praise M$ less than I do, but give credit where it's due. As uncharacteristic as it is for M$, the Indie initiative (or whatever it's called) does exactly what Yoshida-san is proposing.

However, in an entirely characteristic move, M$ "publishes" these XBLA games under the banner of "Microsoft Game Studios", as if they were developed in their Redmond HQ.

edit: I see ________ agrees with me. Maybe you're right after all. ;)



Last edited by Fane1024 on 7/12/2011 4:59:51 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:44:38 AM

Minecraft is not a game... It's not anything really.

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jimmyhandsome
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 8:37:15 AM

I think you guys aren't giving MS enough credit at all. I love indie games and even the "bigger" downloadable titles like Limbo and Joe Danger. I have tons of them on both my 360 and PS3. I don't think its fair at all to say that MS doesn't support indie developers. In fact they're having a couple of contests for them this summer alone:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/07/we-band-of-brothers-developer-led-xbox-live-indies-promotion-returns.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 9:28:14 AM

There are several indie offering on Live that are worth looking into.

I don't think anybody is saying Microsoft never supports smaller teams, but it's important to add that they ONLY take a risk when the risk is comparatively low. There's really no evidence of taking great risks in the full-budget realm, like Sony sometimes does (Heavy Rain, for instance).

There are also more indie titles on the PSN, and the Minis are something unique by VERY small teams of developers. I give credit for titles like Limbo as well but in terms of the overall company structure, it's well known that Microsoft doesn't like risks, while Sony WILL take them every now and then.

As an example, Alan Wake bombed big time. ...and Remedy hasn't signed with MS for the next title. One could argue Sony might've done the same thing but if Alan Wake had received the critical acclaim and fairly hardcore following on the PS3, many believe Sony would've continued to support the team despite lower-than-expected sales. And it's because they expect quality to pay off in the end.

MS just wants everything to pay off immediately.

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jimmyhandsome
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 9:50:24 AM

There is no denying that MS doesn't take the big risks or innovate the way Sony does with full budget titles, I never claimed they did. Its unfortunate, but they do like to milk the same franchises they know will sell well (Halo, Gears, Forza, Fable).

They do however deserve credit for really using the popularity of the XBLA platform to promote some of these indie developers and their titles. It is very uncharacteristic of MS, but what they're doing, is essentially what this whole article is about: promoting innovation by supporting Indie devs. So I would think that MS is interested in this sort of thing.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 2:16:03 PM

OK look, Microsoft as an entity wants nothing (and I mean *nothing* to do with indie developers or hobbyist coders. At their heart, Microsoft is a highly ordered and controlled corporate interest.

With respect to Xbox Live Arcade (and XBox in general), it is further from the heart than most things Microsoft, and benefits from being as far away from that corporate heart as possible. Even so, just a quick look at the policies that Microsoft engages in with regard to XBL content should demonstrate that they are less friendly than it might seem. They have made a lot of noise about being independent friendly, and I have no doubt that they do follow through with that, otherwise some of the XBLA games we've seen, we wouldn't have seen.

However it's a far cry from the commitment that Sony shows. The more closed nature of XBL and the greater limits on the flexibility that developers publishing through XBL have compared to PSN are not trivial and have resulted in some devs deciding to support PSN instead. Nothing is absolute though, and I know of at least one instance where a dev has decided to go the other way. But, in general, Sony has a more relaxed environment for Indie devs, and they have marketing programs and support programs specifically aimed at helping Indie devs bring their games to PSN.

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StangMan80
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:18:00 PM
Reply

I love Sony!

One thing is for sure... The PS4 needs to be more "developer friendly" But more importantly it not holding back game quility where the PS4 quility level should be at.

I don't see them doing anything for the PS3 other then PSN stuff.

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TheCanadianGuy
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:34:52 PM
Reply

this is why sony are the best always open to new ideas. just look at Heavy rain. thay took a risk on david cage & it paid off with 1 of the best games of the generation.

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TheCanadianGuy
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 10:35:46 PM
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also just wanted to say great new articles tonight ben good stuff!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 11:23:08 PM
Reply

And some people wonder why we like Sony so much. I got two words for you "Forward Looking." Today's Joe Danger's are tomorrows Uncharteds.

Keep up the good work Sony, it can only mean good things for Vita.

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Nlayer
Monday, July 11, 2011 @ 11:23:40 PM
Reply

This is why I love Sony. Sony is going to have so many amazing games made by the small people. Can't wait to see what I'll be playing next! :D

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 12:14:52 AM
Reply

Flower and Linger in the Shadows are just two of a whole pile of games (mostly PSN games) that no one else would have run with. We have Sony to thank for this.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 6:14:45 AM

While Linger in the Shadows is not exactly what I'd call a loss if it were not on psn I definitely think it's wonderful that it's there, since it's so utterly weird a creation. Not sure if I'd call it "good" even... It's just.. there, sort of. Like some weird art instalment.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 1:28:36 PM

Oddly enough, and Qubex should read this, the people behind Linger in the Shadows are exactly the kind of hobbyist devs that used to/still do populate the demo scene. So although there are hoops to jump through for such devs, something like Linger in the Shadows shows that it's not a lost art. Plus, it wasn't really a game, more of an interactive art piece, but it was innovative, different and in it's own way very high quality.

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Gabriel013
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 12:53:57 AM
Reply

They say this but haven't they hurt the bedroom developers with the changes they've made to the PS3 since launch?

Where do they think the Indy devs come from?

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 1:37:58 AM

They have an entire program devoted to making PSN publication of games available to devs on a shoestring budget, along with making dev systems relatively inexpensive. I say relatively since they are clearly more expensive than a standard PS3.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 2:16:18 AM
Reply

Not just the indie devs, but the second tier as well. The former are good for downloadable titles, and that will increase their funding to get bigger and better projects, but the second tier are the ones releasing decent games to the public and going under because no-one wants to buy their games.

Semi-related self-plug: http://www.velocitygamer.com/pt/The-Role-of-Second-Tier-Games/blog.htm

Last edited by Lawless SXE on 7/12/2011 2:17:05 AM

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 2:41:46 AM

Yes! Definitely.

It is in a way like the movie industry as that article discusses. You have the big "studios" pumping out AAA games with high produciton values, even if they have questionable value as games, they look great (much like blockbuster action movies have little in the way of plot or character development, but have incredibly well done action.

Then you have the smaller studios that are always running on the edge of viability that put out great movies that are a little rough around the edges compared against a $200million blockbuster, in game terms they make the kinds of games are are considered overlooked or under-appreciated gems.

Then there are the indie studios, the kind that make movies for a million or less and produce some of the most interesting movies and some of the most terrible movies, but they are the proving ground for new talent.

Finally you have the foreign movies, Bollywood and the movie industry native to countries like China or Japan. They produce movies that are extremely popular in their home markets, but generally fail to spark in the 'Western market' because of linguistic and cultural difference.

Oddly enough, in the movies, the foreign movies are often dismissed as the product of either an immature generation of indigenous film-makers or not modern or contemporary enough for the western critic. Independently made movies tend to be a love them or hate them thing with some critics lauding them and some loathing them. The second tier movie studios tend to receive patchy reviews as well, often their movies are praised for the quality of writing, but panned for sometimes rough editing, direction or production values, or perhaps the acting of one of the 'stars'.

The top tier studios product tends to get criticized by the high brow critics, but praised for the production values at least.

In games it's like the top tier makes games like Call of Duty Black Ops, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Gears of War, and so on. The 2nd tier makes games like Burnout Paradise, MotorStorm, inFamous, Killzone, Wipeout and the like. The Independents are working on stuff like Flower, Linger in the Shadows, Echochrome, Braid and so forth. Then the foreign industry puts out games like Valkyria Chronicles, White Knight Chronicles, Vanquish and so on.

Every now and again a foreign movie hits it big, or an Independent film-maker has a breakthrough picture. Sounds a lot like the successes of the Japanese game makers like MGS4, GT5, or Soul Calibur 4; or breakthroughs like Joe Danger, Flower, Echochrome and so on. But a lot of the games from these makers sink without a trace like much of the film output of these kinds of studio may not even see a DVD release.

The gaming industry is running a neat parallel to the movie industry. I expect that there will be a bit more consolidation before we are left with very few publishers. You can already see this happening With Activision.

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___________
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:05:10 AM
Reply

WTF you talking about?
M$ certainly is interested, have you never heard of the indie program?
theres a reason why XBLA gets games like super meat boy and limbo and splosion man ect ect.
sigh............ sometimes i wonder!

aaaaaaaaaaanyway, back on topic.
everyone needs to let the little guy speak, most of the time there the ones trying to do something different, because thats really the only way to get noticed and get your foot in the door.
look at team bondi, the only big development studio in sydney, and for the very first game they make they go for a massive budget game and a genre and tech no one has ever used before!
its like a 20 year old and a few friends going after Ferrari!
in a market as saturated as this you either take a leap of faith and do something new, or you follow the rest of the sheep and risk blending in with the crowd.

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:46:27 AM
Reply

I'll be honest, I don't care for most indie games... I looked on IGN's 100 greatest games of this Gen and most of them were Marketplace/store/Iphone games... Which was really depressing.

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Lotusflow3r
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 6:48:47 AM
Reply

This is why i support Sony more.

But, MS are also interested too. They have had fantastic independent XBLA titles.

However, i don't think MS are interested in indie devs outside of XBLA titles like Sony are with their Team Ico's and Quantics for example.

Last edited by Lotusflow3r on 7/12/2011 6:53:50 AM

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 9:46:15 AM
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And I support Sony because of their extreme value.

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A2K78
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 10:38:58 AM
Reply

"This is why Sony is the most beneficial console maker in gaming today. Unlike MS they don't use money muscle to buy exclusivity of third party games and unlike Nintendo, they are prepared to try new things."

Question, but where is the crime in Microsoft buying exclusives? If you were ask me Micosoft buying third-party is execlusives is fair game just as it has been fair game for Sony when they also indulged in the practice of buying third-party exclusives.

With all that mind to be critical of Microsoft for buying exclsives when Sony have engaged in the very behavior you're criticizing really make no sense.


"Finally you have the foreign movies, Bollywood and the movie industry native to countries like China or Japan. They produce movies that are extremely popular in their home markets, but generally fail to spark in the 'Western market' because of linguistic and cultural difference."

there are tons of foreigen films that do well in the western market critically, commercially or both. And for the record Slum Dog Millionaire and the King's Speech are recent examples of foreign-made productions that have done well both critically and commercially.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 1:29:30 PM

There are not tons of foreign movies that doo well in western markets. There are some, but the other 99% of them are never seen or heard from in the west, and you know that's true.

The crime is buying exclusivity and forcing a platform switch that damages existing customers and markets. I have no problem with any console maker commissioning a game in a new IP specifically and exclusively for their console, but I do have a problem with console makers paying companies to jump ship (switch platforms), so to speak, or cut off another platform. That is damaging to the market and gamers and is - at least in my opinion, less than ethical.

Last edited by Highlander on 7/12/2011 1:32:44 PM

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A2K78
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 11:38:42 AM
Reply

"The gaming industry is running a neat parallel to the movie industry. I expect that there will be a bit more consolidation before we are left with very few publishers. You can already see this happening With Activision."

First of all in the last 10+ years Activision have been a very successful publisher and its clearly been so thanks in part to the brilliant leadership of Kotik, this when you consider fact he turned around a company that was on the brink of collapse and single handedly forged a merger Blizzard transforming Activision into an even bigger fish, one that is bigger than even EA.

Another thing to consider, thanks to being a daughter company of one of largest media conglomerates arounds(Vivendi SA), Activision is going to be around for a very long, very long time.

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Douchebaguette
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 @ 4:45:37 PM
Reply

Very admirable.

You don't see major labels in the music industry give opportunity, fairshare and freedom of choice towards unheard of beginners; perhaps they need one. I suppose the gaming industry is different, but that's because Sony alone is a distinguishing factor. They keep the fuel burning in order for the gaming industry to survive. Just look at the huge collection the PS1 & PS2 era had - random games, perhaps questionable games, but they all had one thing in common = they contributed towards keeping console gaming full of life: a healthy dynamic.

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DeusExMachina
Wednesday, July 13, 2011 @ 3:18:20 PM
Reply

This is extremely amasing to hear and I love Sony for this (they will always stay my fav console designer and video games giant) there's just one little snag, South Africa isn't legible to submit games to the PSN not even to scee (cause thats what our PSN is based off of).

I hope this means that that's is going to change as I've been emailing scee and asking them about the situation but I have a feeling Im not talking to the right department, cause they keep referring me to either the employment or R&D department.

I'm currently in college studying VFX at Film school as I got into games and movies since a young age and I tinkered quite a bit in game making through out my childhood and high school with a buddy or two and I decided I wanted a better concept of story, narrative and plot and will then also concentrate on graphics and art design (eventually getting to 3D modeling , want to focus on 2D sprite games for now as they are easier to beautify, plus jus has an indie flare and it has been lacing this gen I feel).

Finally I have a team set up already and we are all training, I already have a working concept (based off of a student animation a friend and I did, which we wish to recreate to help market the game). We have 3 programmers, 4 graphics artists/designers and 4 sound/and music guys all interested and busy prepping, we are hoping to have a beta build by the end of next year (after the rest of us graduate) and then spend another 6 months polishing the game. However Im trying to get info out of Sony now already cause I dont wanna splurge in the dark on number 99and let our hard work and passion go to waste on a mediocre service ,were also already saving up capital to purchase the dev kit from sony and any other costs. I jus think Sony can grab a nice slice of uncontested pie here in South Africa as both the normal and indie gaming scene is growing rapidly and none of the major services support SA for indie (Steam, Xbox Live, Apple App etc.).

The only thing is theres no way to get to Sony's premium indie care from where we are at, so I was wondering if anyone here knows or can find out what I can do to move forward, as a final alternative I also have family in Canada that I can maybe sign up and work through (with my uncle's brother having experience in the gaming industry) although Id much rather have the service supported in South Africa its easier for me and more beneficial to our gaming industry.

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