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Yoshida announces "Playstation Indies" Initiative. 9 New titles being announced...


Romier S
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Yosp's new Playstation Indies initiative was announced this morning:

 

https://blog.playstation.com/2020/07/01/introducing-playstation-indies-and-a-morning-of-captivating-new-games/

 



Hi everyone! As some of you may have noticed, I have long been a big fan of indie games, and ever since I was appointed as Head of Indies Initiative for PlayStation in November the last year, I have been working closely with all departments at Sony Interactive Entertainment to elevate our efforts to help make indie developers’ lives easier and their titles shine in this super competitive videogame market.

I’m pleased to formally announce the PlayStation Indies initiative. With PlayStation Indies, we hope to spotlight and support the best of the best indie games being published on PlayStation and the entire indie community as a whole. Our goal is to make PlayStation the best place to develop, find, and play great indie games.

 

They'll be announcing and spotlighting 9 new games throughout the day today and that initial post will be updated with all of them in due time.

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5 minutes ago, Angry the Clown said:

I had assumed all of these would be PS console exclusives, at the very least timed exclusives, but Recompile was also announced for Series X.


The point was to announce the initiative which includes more indie titles appearing regularly on PlayStation Now (which is no longer just a streaming service), the fact that the PSN Store would have a new dedicated section for Indies and to highlight some interesting games. Some may end up being timed or exclusive but nothing was ever presented as such, no. I even mentioned that “Creaks” was announced for Xbox One in my earlier posting.

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3 hours ago, Romier S said:


The point was to announce the initiative which includes more indie titles appearing regularly on PlayStation Now (which is no longer just a streaming service), the fact that the PSN Store would have a new dedicated section for Indies and to highlight some interesting games. Some may end up being timed or exclusive but nothing was ever presented as such, no. I even mentioned that “Creaks” was announced for Xbox One in my earlier posting.

 

Gotcha. These were all coming so thick and fast that I glossed over Creaks.

 

This doesn’t seem like quite the level of investment in indies Sony had in the early years of the PS4 then? Just new means to amplify a select few.

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6 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

 

Gotcha. These were all coming so thick and fast that I glossed over Creaks.

 

This doesn’t seem like quite the level of investment in indies Sony had in the early years of the PS4 then? Just new means to amplify a select few.


Yoshida’s role at Sony now is specifically to nurture and curate indie developers and games. Combined with what we saw at the PS5 reveal (which included a number of exclusives on the indie front) and the fact that this is an ongoing initiative and not just a one day thing, I’m not understanding the perspective that there’s a lesser investment here? Perhaps your memory is skewed by the fact that Microsoft didn’t give the slightest of fucks about indies in the early years and Nintendo was in the thrall of the Wii U being a disaster? It wasn’t until the ID@Xbox initiative launched and ramped up and the Switch came along that we started to see indie games really start to take across multiple console platforms in a big way. Sony defacto appeared to have more “investment” by way of them making it far easier to publish on their platforms and focusing on them more with the PS4 to fill in the gaps in the library early on and especially on the Vita which was an indie games beast. The landscape for indie titles on consoles has dramatically changed since then.

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1 hour ago, Romier S said:

The landscape for indie titles on consoles has dramatically changed since then.

 

No doubt. I had tuned out of Xbox so much over the years that little about ID@Xbox registered with me even when they got that up and running, but certainly I remember the absence of any kind of Xbox Live Arcade initiative being felt, and Sony being the only one to show genuine interest the the time the current systems launched. In Sony's case though, I'm also thinking back a few years when Jim Ryan openly admitted that indies were less relevant to them, at least ones that were not developing for VR, and as you say that's probably much to do about the changing landscape where the Switch was becoming something of the new indie darling, the birth of some dedicated indie game publishers and so on. Perhaps they even felt burnt giving too much of a platform to No Man's Sky. Who knows...

 

Still, it was sad when some indie devs began talking about how closed off and un-engaged Sony had apparently become in the community a few years ago, and that's really what I mean by their investment. There was a definite sense that something was lost when Adam Boyes left I think, even if it was just the loss of someone keeping tabs who who was who, and who was making what, regardless if it lead to any assistance or deals. A little good will goes a long way, and many of these little devs could be developing something huge in the years to come after all. 

 

If part of Yosp's brief is to fill that role Boyes vacated after however many years it's been then that's good news, as we know how passionate and approachable a personality he is. Again, it's really a sense that that personal investment, via way of a certain few personalities within the company, has escaped SCE in recent years more than anything. Maybe I'm also a little thrown by what they're doing here on account of them tooting the horn for a new Worms game as part of this initiative. I'm not sure a well known franchise from a thirty year old developer and publisher quite fits the mould of needing this kind of amplification, so from that perspective the angle feels a touch different to where they were in 2013/2014 (which isn't to deem it the "wrong" thing to be doing by any means. The landscape has changed as you say). 

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There was no downside to Sony giving a platform to No Man's Sky so I doubt there's much regret there, personally. It brought people into the ecosystem. You can argue the extent at which the game helped sell PS4's but the backlash the game received was pretty inconsequential by that point. It sold and it was only available on Sony's platform in the console space (it logged a little over 800k in sales on PC alone at launch). 

 

A lot of this is perceptual as well. The Switch being an indie "darling" is driven by its portability and what that does to help sell those games. Not by any level of exclusive access. There's very, very few indie titles that are Switch only. Vast majorities of those titles appear on both the PS4 and Xbox One but they tend to sell better on the Switch because the more powerful consoles offer little in the way of visual improvements and the portability factor as I mentioned. So owning a PS4 or Xbox One doesn't put you in a position with less access to those titles nor does it make them any less of an indie "darling" machine, IMO.

 

I'm sure there has been some level of disengagement at Sony since Boyes and company left. Sony in the last few years has been first and foremost less dependent on indie titles to fill out any gaps in their games library. An inevitability once their first party production ramped up and secondly (and more bluntly), they don't have to try as hard on the PS4. They have a customer base numbered well over 100 million. What independent developer wouldn't want to have their game in front of that audience?

 

I think what you're seeing with this initiative is a few things:

 

1. Yoshida being allowed to work on something he's very passionate about and bring more attention to titles he feels deserves it. Along with helping to maintain continued engagement with the indie community.

2. Which leads to the second item, which is to make sure the indie community keeps titles flowing on the PS5 where they will (surprise) need to again depend on those games to help fill in gaps while they spin up development from their first party studios. 

3. Highlight the fact that we'll be seeing more indie games on PS Now which Sony is positioning as a direct competitor to Game Pass.

 

Even then, I'd argue the PlayStation name alone will ensure a certain level of support, regardless and we just got done viewing an hour+ long unveiling of the PS5 that heavily featured independent games and studios on the platform as I previously mentioned so yeah....

 

Also, I don't personally have an issue with Worms being amplified here. Team 17 remains an independent studio and publisher and the Worms game presents an interesting spin on the Battle Royale genre that could prove enticing to folks on the platform. Why not amplify it? Again, this is not a static one day initiative and it doesn't preclude them from continuing to highlight smaller and more diverse titles in the future.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Romier S said:

A lot of this is perceptual as well. The Switch being an indie "darling" is driven by its portability and what that does to help sell those games. Not by any level of exclusive access. There's very, very few indie titles that are Switch only. Vast majorities of those titles appear on both the PS4 and Xbox One but they tend to sell better on the Switch because the more powerful consoles offer little in the way of visual improvements and the portability factor as I mentioned. So owning a PS4 or Xbox One doesn't put you in a position with less access to those titles nor does it make them any less of an indie "darling" machine, IMO.

 

From a consumer point of view, I don’t disagree at all. I’m merely thinking back to things indie devs have said in the past about Sony losing interest in engaging with their community like they used to, while Nintendo had apparently taken up that space, and from a development point of view the Switch and its portability, as you say, seems to be something of an ideal platform for a lot of indies to right now (hence the “darling”).

 

I feel like Nintendo’s own degree of openness has its downsides though. They’re getting better at seeking out good stuff to acquire and promote (be they exclusives or timed exclusives), but there also seems to be an unusual amount of shovelware allowed to flood the eShop, I assume to help perpetuate the boast of “x number of games on Switch!” 

 

2 hours ago, Romier S said:

I'm sure there has been some level of disengagement at Sony since Boyes and company left. Sony in the last few years has been first and foremost less dependent on indie titles to fill out any gaps in their games library. An inevitability once their first party production ramped up and secondly (and more bluntly), they don't have to try as hard on the PS4. They have a customer base numbered well over 100 million. What independent developer wouldn't want to have their game in front of that audience?

 

Right, and that ruffled my feathers really as it echoed Microsoft’s past behaviour closer than I’d like. It pays in the long term on multiple levels to constantly keep a close eye on fresh talent, to engage with it and champion it wherever possible. So, to go from that very serious dedication to head hunting talent for several years, then around 2017 openly admitting that it was no longer something they needed to pursue so deeply struck me as arrogantly dismissive. That level of engagement may have no longer be of as much value to a major console manufacturer at a moment in time, but you’d think it consistently valuable to developers. 

 

Now, low and behold, we’re on the cusp of a new generation and here we are with a fresh push of the Indie Initiative because they’re going to want to lean on a lot of new talent again for the next few years (though probably not nearly as much or in quite the same way, again due to how saturated the indie market is across so many platforms these days, and also on account of how many studios now operate under SCE to help roll out major releases).

 

Of course, it’s not like the Initiative was terminated either, it’s always been chugging along in some fashion as far as I’m aware, but its strength really did seem to be determined by the personalities of a few key individuals at SCE at the time, which even I as a mere consumer really appreciated seeing. I’m hoping that, for as long as someone with Yoshida’s degree of passion is heading the project, that the cycle “we love you! We need you!” to “ehhh” will not repeat itself by 2023. Definitely, everything you summarise in the three points you outline would be encouraging way for the Initiative to re-establish itself, and it certainly could be a good thing if PS Now proves to be a decent incentive for Sony to keep the ball rolling in the years ahead.

 

I had it in my head that there was one other well regarded name at Sony who also left around the same time as Boyes, and it was Nick Suttner. Eurogamer actually did a great piece about them and Playstation Indie Initiative as it existed back in 2015: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-04-27-sonys-indie-initiative-how-the-hardware-giant-is-courting-small-team-talent

 

 

 

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Nintendo could solve the shovel ware problem almost overnight if they organised their chart by revenue, rather than units shifted. If they want to. 
 

Meanwhile, “release random junk, mark it 90% off for a few weeks, try to make a profit with those sales in the short time between the price going back up and the chart refreshing” is a tried and trusted technique from certain publishers. 

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