Sony and Microsoft go to war for the hearts of indie developers

Binding of Isaac

Above: The Binding of Isaac, an indie hit on PC, is coming to the PlayStation Vita.

Image Credit: VentureBeat
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Sony and Microsoft are dueling for the hearts of indie gamers. At its Gamescom press event today in Cologne, Germany, Sony announced a series of indie titles for the PlayStation 4 that show that it, and not Microsoft, is creating the real console for independent game developers.

This is a big turnabout from past console cycles, when triple-A blockbuster developer exclusives were the objects of desire for the console makers. Now, with titles like Angry Birds coming from virtually unknown studios, you never know where the next hit will come from. So it makes sense for the console owners to court indies.

“PlayStation 4 is the world’s most powerful game console,” said Mark Cerny, the architect of the PS4, during the press event. “We have been able to architect a console that truly is by game creators, for gamers.”

As a development platform, the PS4 is also quicker, easier, and higher quality, Cerny said. His firm is supporting indie game developers with support for the Unity game engine, self-publishing, and financial support from a publishing fund.

“We believe that a renaissance of gaming is coming on the PlayStation 4,” Cerny said.

Microsoft made similar pronouncements last night with its own indie-focused program. It will give qualified indie developers two Xbox One development kits and give them resources to self-publish their games — with the full features of Xbox Live — on the Xbox One.

Shahid Ahmad of Sony said that the company is giving developers the freedom to create what they want. That is resulting in new exclusives such as N++, Guns of Icarus Online, and a variety of others being announced for both the PS4 and the PlayStation Vita. All told, Sony announced 15 new exclusive games for the PS4, including indie titles.