The head of [email protected] - Microsoft's new indie initiative - is convinced that boutique digital titles can sell systems just as efficiently as bloated triple-A projects, citing Minecraft as an example.
[email protected] head honcho Chris Charla argued his case to MCV. "There has certainly been system sellers that have been indie games – Minecraft is a system seller," he said. "Independent developers are hugely important for the entire industry ecosystem. I am massively excited by titles such as Titanfall and Halo. But I am equally excited when I see games like Papers Please, or Gone Home. Games can be hugely diverse. When you turn on your Xbox One, you see the broadest, most diverse spectrum of entertainment.”
Microsoft's late announcment of the [email protected] scheme made many of us wonder whether they threw something together at the last minute to combat Sony's stalwart indie support, but Charla was keen to shatter that misconception. “The origins of this goes all the way back to Xbox One’s architecture," he continued. "We’ve been planning this for a long time. You can see where this started with 360’s indie titles. We haven’t even released a system yet, so I’d say it’s not a late announcement, it’s quite a timely one.”
We actually agree with Charla one-hundred percent, but I believe that this will only be the case in one or two years' time, once a flourishing indie ecosystem has been established on both next-gen consoles. At launch, I'm afraid, it's the AAA exclusives that will sell systems to the majority of consumers - while many of us will still look to our PCs for a wealth of experimental and independent titles. At least Microsoft is getting with the programme, and acknowledging that smaller focused digital titles have all but replaced the 'AA' games of yesteryear.
That said, it might be worth pointing out Minecraft is that it's coming out on Sony systems too, down the line. Indie games will certainly sell some systems, but Microsoft needs to secure more content to make sure it's theirs.