Maybe you’ve noticed that a lot of indie games end up on PlayStation 4 before Xbox One, and one of the studios that has partnered with Sony time and time again has shared one of the reasons for this.
Vlambeer business boss Rami Ismail says that he loves working with the people at Sony, and that’s why his studio has brought its games like Luftrausers and Nuclear Throne to PlayStation devices before the competition. In a fireside chat at the GamesBeat Summit in Sausalitio, California, Ismail gave his view on the business of making games from the perspective of an indie developer. He pointed out that teams of one or two people don’t always think about business first. Instead, they often make deals because they have a deep connection with their work, and they want to partner with outside companies that share that passion.
“Literally, the only reason we’re launching on PlayStation first is because we love working with them,” said Ismail. “Indie creators are generally emotional about their creations.”
Sony has worked to build up its third-party relations team in the days of the PlayStation 3, and it continued that through the first few years of the PlayStation 4. That continuity is making it easier than ever for studios like Vlambeer to deal with a major platform holder. At the same time, Ismail points out that this may not be a great model for every indie studio.
“[Sony and Microsoft have] done everything right, and that’s kinda backfired in a beautiful way,” said Ismail. “Platforms have done really well to improve the process for the established indie developers, but that is making it even harder for people who are just coming up.”
Vlambeer and other companies like Super Brothers developer Capybara have concrete relationships with Sony and Microsoft because those studios made successful games last generation. If you don’t have that existing connection with the platform holders, the market is too crowded (such as on Steam, the world’s largest PC digital store and community) and that’s squeezing newer, smaller developers out of the market.
“People say it’s easier than ever to make a game,” said Ismail. “But it’s also probably the hardest it’s ever been to bridge the gap [to making a living from your game].”