Multiple indie publishers and developers spoke on social media about Sony’s continued negligence of indie titles, its lack of communication, sales restrictions, and severe limitations that would allow developers to self-promote their games within the PlayStation platform without jumping through flaming hoops.
A group of indie publishers and developers have taken to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with Sony’s PlayStation platform, as reported by IGN. They pointed out several issues, like Sony’s lack of interest and communication, frustrating bureaucracy, discoverability issues, and severe limitations on when and how games can be put on sale. Unfortunately, it would seem that Sony’s negligence of indie titles, which reared its ugly head in light of PlayStation 4’s massive success, continues on to its new generation of gaming hardware.
The discussion was kicked off by Iain Garner, a co-founder of Neon Doctrine, who criticized Sony in a Twitter thread. Though Garner didn’t explicitly call Sony by name, but a “Platform X,” who is, according to his tweet, “a very successful console and doesn’t have Game Pass.” His thread was quote-tweeted by several indie publishers and developers, who affirmed many of the issues Garner pointed out, criticizing the platform’s tools, communications, lack of transparent processes, and interest in supporting indies, or lack thereof. Not to mention the extremely limited ability for the publishers to discount or promote their games within the said platform.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Sony has been accused of mistreatment for indie titles and their developers and publishers. The problem can be traced back to the financially underwhelming release of PlayStation 4, at which point Sony acknowledged that it had been manufacturing and selling its consoles at a loss. As a result, the company focused more on highly profitable, triple-A exclusives, not lending enough oxygen to smaller, third-party developers. This was a reasonable business move, at least from Sony’s perspective, which later skyrocketed PlayStation 4’s commercial success.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s [email protected]’s self-publishing initiative paved the way for some of the most renowned indie releases on Xbox, which prompted Nintendo to spotlight indie games and Nintendo indie exclusives – Nindies. Independent developers and publishers were still releasing their games for PlayStation 4; however, Sony stopped giving them space and on its platform, making it highly challenging for indie games to garner sales.
Iain Garner’s tweet came at a time when Sony seems to be trying to support the indie community. Just last year, the company launched a $10 million fund to support indie developers during COVID-19. But, given how PlayStation 5 is losing Sony money, indie developers and their releases might get sidelined again. Through further conversations with the press, Garner remained adamant that the “Platform X” is awful for indies due to challenging and frustrating amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy and lack of “customer” support.
Indie developers and publishers involved in the ongoing Twitter discussion agreed that even obtaining a single dev kit was extremely challenging and often outright expensive. They pointed out that Xbox, contrary to Sony, provided dev kits straightforwardly and completely free of charge as a sign of support to the ever-growing indie community. And though Sony continues to outperform Xbox in the sales department, many developers, publishers, and even gamers are outraged over Sony’s continued focus on blockbuster titles, neglecting many independently-developed and worthwhile gaming experiences.