Few people who have played Journey can say they weren’t at least a little impressed by it. The game’s (estimated) sales figures and popularity support that its artsy style and off-the-beaten-path gameplay resonated with fans. With that in mind, along with other indie titles that have risen to the top, Sony is looking to expand its library these “art-house” games.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Adam Boyes, vice president of publisher-and-developer relations for Sony mentioned that the company is “always looking for things that people wouldn’t be able to do normally.” He added, “we really want to feature (art-house game) and have an artful platform for people to put content out on.”
Reflecting on their generally low price points, Boyes spoke of the market for indie games that stray from the norm. “If it’s awesome, that’s sort of the first qualifier. If it’s something that really sets itself apart from what else is out there,that always stacks higher.”
While Sony wants to present itself as the platform for indie games, its stake in them is never great until a title is fully developed. Boyes explained that the company will “find a developer… they pitch (a game) to us, we say ‘Hey, we like it.” And then we pay them upon completion, advanced against the royalties.” Sony likes that model, said Boyes, “because, basically, once we recoup, we go to the traditional model that they would be getting with their self-publishing.”
The games do have to find their own funding first, as sony is admittedly “hands-off” in the development process. “We see a concept, we believe in the developer, and then basically we check in once in a while, but there’s no heavy, hands-on interaction with them.” Sony has dealt with games that have been funded by loans, personally staked, and Kickstarted. The silver lining of Sony’s tell-us-when-it’s-done policy is that the developers are not beholden to deadlines or due dates.
One thing Sony will provide, however, are development kits. If a developer proves its idea worthy, Sony will “make sure they get all the stuff that they need.” This prevents developers with great ideas from having to build them on unauthorized or outdated equipment. Sony has also started waiving fees for patching games after release, allowing developers to put their best efforts forward as problems arise.
Speaking to the future of indie games on PlayStation, Boyes concluded, “I think you guys will see a lot of really exciting announcements over the coming six months about different evolving policies that make things easier for our partners. Self-publishing was step one. Then waiving patch fees for our Pub Fund partners… It’s important to us because developers are the gas in the engine, and that’s the important part we need to focus on: make their lives easier. Because, like I said before, there’s a lot of options these days, and we need to make sure that we’re evolving every day.”
Now it’s your turn, readers. What do you think about artsy, indie games that try to break the mold? Do you tend to drop $10-$20 bucks on them, or are you more inclined to spend your hard-earned dough on triple-A games you know will be good? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on our forums.