The indie game scene has always been an important part of gaming. Recently, console manufacturers have finally started to see the light, and with the digital marketplace growing stronger every day, indie games have finally found their place in the world through digital delivery. However, there has been a surprising amount of discord growing within the ranks of the indie elite. Self-publishing on some platforms has been ridiculously costly, and most small developers simply don’t have the funds to see a project through to fruition. Thankfully, it looks like all of that is going to change.
It would appear that Sony has figured out the secret formula to working with indie developers and with, well, people in general. In a recent interview with EDGE, as reported by Videogamer.com, Sony’s Account Support Manager Nick Suttner let the proverbial cat out of the bag. It’s a secret that could quite possibly change the future of gaming–“Don’t be jerks.” Suttner went on to talk about Sony’s efforts in the indie game arena, a project that has unfolded over the last 18 months, and that “the indie PSN content and announcements you've seen so far this year are a direct reflection of those efforts.” But those three words–“Don’t be jerks”–really say it all. Hopefully, this revelation will permeate the industry.
The gaming industry is rife with “jerks.” Just this week, Marcus Beer (Annoyed Gamer of Gametrailers.com) started a full-on Twitter war with Phil Fish (creator of the indie hit, Fez) that ultimately ended in the cancellation of Fez II and Fish’s decision to leave the gaming industry for good, which you can read about here. While I may not agree with the way that Fish responded to the lashings of Beer, I can’t help but think that this entire situation could have been averted with simple civility and professionalism. In essence, the “don’t be jerks” mentality.
In the wake of Fish’s departure, Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski offered some advice to Fish via a lengthy Tumblr post, telling Fish, “Come back, Phil. We miss you already. Maybe I’ll be right behind you, returning with Adamantium skin." (Read the full story here.) At least Cliff, not unlike Sony, can see the value in cultivating innovative developers and lending a helping hand like a decent human being.
So don’t write off your dreams of becoming an indie legend just yet. Sony is really opening up the doors and clearing a path for anyone brave enough to traverse the wilderness of the gaming industry. But they aren’t the only ones. Microsoft has had a checkered past with the indie community, and their policies and practices in the indie market have sometimes been touted as anti-indie. But a recent announcement has revealed that any Xbox One system will be able to be used as a dev kit. This is huge news considering that dev kits traditionally cost thousands of dollars, something outside the typical budget of any fledgling independent development house. More announcements regarding Microsoft’s self-publishing policies and Xbox One’s capabilities are expected at Gamescom later this month, and the announcements will hopefully give us more insight into Microsoft’s intentions toward the indie scene. But for now, the future of indie development looks pretty bright.
So it would seem that the major console manufacturers have, at last, come around. The doors are opening for a flood of indie developers to put their money where their mouth is. This could facilitate the development of the games that the gaming industry needs to progress as an entertainment medium. Now, whether or not we can keep the “don’t be jerks” attitude while it all happens remains to be seen, but it sure would be nice, wouldn’t it?