TheDigitalDynasty // Indie Gaming – The War of the Consoles
Indie Gaming – The War of the Consoles
Sony and Microsoft in the current generation have never really tapped into the indie-game market in a big way. Sure, the adoption of the Indie game marketplace and the Xbox Live Arcade over on Microsoft’s platform were huge steps forward bridging the gap for such games as Minecraft to make their way over to the console market, but the accessibility for developers into such markets and the rewards they could see from doing so were never very great. The new generation of consoles set to release later this year though and the influence of the PC platform with Steam Greenlight for instance has had the impetus for the indie game issue to become a more prominent selling point of each respective console.
On the distinctly blue side of the coin, Sony has hit the ground running. During Sony’s E3 conference, the indie titles kept rolling. A huge proportion of their show was actually dedicated to their commitment to Indie games with such developers as Klei (who are bringing their runaway success Don’t Starve to the platform) and Supergiant Games (the people behind Bastion) being two of many developers working on the platform. With self-publishing and the ability for developers to update their game free of charge remaining true features of their new console, it’s clear to see that Sony have it right on the money when it comes to creating an ecosystem ready for indie games to flourish in.
On the green team however, it’s not as clear cut as it perhaps seems. The removal of the charge to developers associated with updating their games in recent days is certainly going to change some people’s minds about Xbox’s dedication to the indie game market. Phil Fish for instance updating his game Fez released in early 2012 to fix a save erasing bug could not do so due to the cost of fixing it. Because of this new policy change, the game may finally receive the update it needed. However, it does seem a bit like it’s too little and too late for Microsoft. Even with this policy change, the ability to self-publish on the platform is one sadly still missing and developers willing to work with Microsoft are few and far between.
The whole Minecraft argument Microsoft seem to be ramming down people’s throats is one that really holds no weight. During their E3 presentation, they almost used the example of Minecraft as a way of showing to the industry their platform can allow even indie games to flourish. That fact that Minecraft succeeded though was not down to any input by Microsoft, but down to sheer popularity surrounding the title. However, as easy as it is to take shots at Microsoft, the Summer of Arcade events they have held in the past have always been hugely successful and have put games into the hands of gamers they would have not perhaps have found in any other content distribution system. However, the distinction here needs to be made as to what indie development is. The overriding majority of successful games on the XBLA marketplace are all published by Microsoft. The need for anyone being able to code a game and get it seen is one that Microsoft has never really nailed and this may come back to bite them.
Although it is long from over yet, the war of the consoles in this indie-game market is one that seemingly only can have one winner and, at least for now, the trophy falls into the hands of Sony.