With the popularity of thatgamecompany’s titles Journey and Flower on the PSN, and an overall increased interest in low-budget but fresh and original content through Valve’s Steam, Sony has shifted gears leading into the next-gen by opening the doors to the independent developer scene.
As expected, the specs for the upcoming PS4 show that it will allow for an even greater sense of realism in the graphical arena, and as a result, the cost to develop these upcoming powerhouses will expand exponentially. This higher cost is what is compelling AAA developers to take fewer risks and shut doors, (LucasArts and THQ .. you will be missed), leading to what some are calling a rehashed and predictably brown gaming future. However, independent game developers have smaller teams, smaller budgets, and are willing to take greater risks on untested gaming ideas … and Sony is really taking notice.
In the recent past, an indie dev was required to submit to a process, (dubbed the “two-stage” process), wherein through constant feedback, green lighting measures, and voting their game might have made it to PSN. All of that is now being simplified to cater to these smaller and more focused teams.
In an interview on Gamasutra , Sony’s Adam Boyes had this to say:
“… the big games are critical and important, but at the same time, the creators are always going to be born and raised out of smaller projects. So, it’s just continue to listen, and as soon as you stop listening and stop caring about them, then they go away. So we’re just going to be laser-targeted on [independent creators] for very many years“. He goes on to say that they are looking into streamlining the certification process in addition to already waiving the fees associated with minor patches.
Sony’s recent partnership with Unity to allow compiling of games created with their engine to be compatible with the PS Vita, PS3, and PS4 only solidifies their strong attention to anchor their consoles as a stable home for smaller titles. Coupled with the x86 architecture of their new system, Sony might just be aligning itself to be a stiff competitor to the PC, iOS, and Android markets as it pertains to indie games. It remains to be seen how Sony will hold at bay the bombardment of the less than stellar titles that plague the aforementioned devices, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.