In recent years, independent games have multiplied on online stores. These productions, generally more modest than the so-called games AAA and often created by small teams, are acclaimed for their originality and their risk-taking that large publishers refuse.
One difficulty for these developers is to afford visibility. The productions multiply, the releases also, and it is not always easy to stand out in this true tide of titles. They can of course rely on different tools: we think for example of conferences, whether at trade fairs (E3, etc.), during dedicated events (Games Made in France, etc.) or organized by manufacturers (Indie World from Nintendo, etc.), but also to virtual events allowing to test demos (Steam Néo Fest, Xbox Summer Game Demo Fest). But of course, the important thing is to stand out in online stores. And obviously, the PlayStation Store from Sony would not be the best place to hope for a highlight.
This is Iain Garner, co-founder of Neon Doctrine, an independent game publishing company, which set fire to the powder on Twitter. In one thread of 15 messages, he described his experience with the manager of an “X platform, the builder of a successful console that does not have a Game Pass”. If he doesn’t quote Sony, doubt is not really allowed, especially as other developers have corroborated the statements by being less subtle.
Here is what is criticized Sony par Iain Garner :
- It sometimes takes several weeks, or even months, to get a response from a contact person, if such a person has been designated for the studio. This would not always be the case and the procedures are very vague;
- Impossibility for developers to offer a reduction on one of their games without the endorsement of Sony. The promotions would work on an invitation system, and these would be very limited. Sometimes you have to wait several months or even years before you can offer a reduction. This makes reductions synchronized with other platforms very difficult, if not impossible to implement;
- The process for submitting a game to the PlayStation Store would be a totally archaic system according to the person concerned, who qualifies it as “worthy of the 2000s”;
- The fact that Sony is claiming $ 25,000 for a promotion on the PlayStation Store (in addition to the usual 30% commission).
Different developers have confirmed having had similar experiences. Some did not hesitate to offer a graphical overview of sales distributed between the different platforms in order to highlight the low ratio of sales on consoles. PlayStation : pour Matthew White, CEO from the studio WhiteThorn, 3% of sales are made on the PlayStation Store, compared to 80 to 90% on Switch and Xbox. The reason mentioned by Iair Garner: the flexibility that Nintendo and Microsoft in order to offer promotions on games, allowing them to appear in dedicated sections on virtual stores.
Jason Schreier, you site Bloomberg, there is also his comment, explaining that the problem comes mainly from the fact that Sony concentrates heavily on “blockbuster” games, to the detriment of more modest productions. This philosophy of the Japanese giant, already reflected in a restructuring of the studios Sony Japan, directly impacts the department dedicated to relations with independent developers: the teams, led by Shuhei Yoshida, are understaffed. This explains in particular the difficulty of obtaining answers from contact persons.
In other words, Sony, by concentrating on games AAA, seems to forget the independent developers. They have the impression of being neglected and the politics of PlayStation Store coupled with the low number of sales could therefore make some people think about releasing their games on the “X platform”.
Of course, it would be wrong to say that Sony doesn’t give a damn about independent developers. Some are highlighted during State of Play (Kena: Bridge of Spirit, Sifu or Solar Ash) or via the PlayStation Blog, and Sony has forged partnerships with several new studios founded, it is true, by industry veterans. But for a handful of games that enjoy a certain visibility, it seems that many titles are in the shadows, to the chagrin of developers who regret not having enough tools to afford a little light. .
It should also be noted that, if the majority of independent games are found only on official stores, some are entitled to a physical release: this is the case of Spirit of the North Enhanced Edition, available on Amazon.