'The Console Audience Has Woken Up To Indie Games'
PS4 architect Mark Cerny believes that Sony's upcoming console will spark developer creativity and a new gaming renaissance fuelled by indies.
Speaking at the Develop conference in Brighton [attended by Eurogamer], Cerny compared PS4's indie-centric approach to the original PlayStation, in that small teams have the freedom to make cracking games. "With PSone there was no way to make an indie title," he argued. "The hardware didn't support digital downloads and all games were distributed on CD-ROMS. There was no way for creators to directly reach their audience.
"But triple-A game development was very different than it was today. Crash Bandicoot, which sold six million units, was created by just seven people. A typical individual would contribute broadly in the creation of a game.
"Due to small team sizes the barriers to creating new types of experiences were quite low, and consequently the diversity of games available at retail was quite high. As a result, there was a certain fun factor that was an intrinsic part of the PlayStation DNA in those years. Concept-driven titles like PaRappa the Rapper, Devil Dice and Intelligent Cube were well received by the game playing audience and each went on to sell over a million units."
Cerny continued by talking about their new open business model that encourages and even actively headhunts smaller developers to flock to the platform with firm support and financial incentives. "On the business side, we've had a bit of an epiphany," he said. "Since Adam Boyes joined SCE, pretty much the whole process has been overturned. He wanted us to look at the day in the life of an indie developer, and challenged us to explain whether our processes were helping or hindering the creation of the diverse titles we were looking for.
"We ended up radically simplifying concept approval. We fully support self-publishing across all platforms, so it's now possible for developers to maintain complete creative and financial control. We now pretty much support any business model, whether it be buy-to-play, free-to-play, episodic or micro-transactions. And we're doing what we can to support indie development financially as well, whether that be through loaner dev kits or our incubation program or direct support from the Pub Fund."
"So, as a result of these technical, business and platform factors, we believe that a renaissance of gaming is coming on PS4," Cerny triumphantly concluded. "Heavy content will thrive on the platform, but in many ways we will also be returning to the creative freedom and broad content that made the early years of PlayStation so unforgettable."
As a longtime exponent of indie gaming, I may have fallen slightly in love with him.
Sony have been pushing support for independent development over the last two years on PS3 and Vita, and promises a swathe of boutique and indie titles on the PS4 along with avenues for self-publishing. Your move, Microsoft.