Sony faced a new wave of criticism after it was revealed that PlayStation charges devs at least $25,000 for promotion. Indie developers started sharing their experiences of working with the company, pointing out the lack of support, bad discoverability, and low sales among other problems.
The whole thing started on June 30 with Iain Garner’s thread where he opened up about his experience of working with PlayStation (you can read about it here). Later on, other indie developers decided to share their own stories.
Those Awesome Guys project manager Cristian Botea confirmed Garner’s claims, citing the lack of launch support and problems with participating in sales. “I can’t quite figure out what’s their reasoning on leaving behind so many titles that do really well otherwise on other platforms,” he wrote.
As someone who also publishes games on said Platform X, I can mirror @NeonIain‘s frustrations entirely.
Backend is a mighty maze that’ll take you a while to figure out and you’ll never quite figure it out.
Launch support? Haha, good luck.
— Cristian Botea 🎮 (@summoningpixels) June 30, 2021
Kotaku also wrote an article based on Garner’s thread, confirming that PlayStation really charges between $25,000 and $200,000 for prominent promotion. In a twist full of bitter irony, Twitter user @saucenaopls later shared a screenshot of emails from Kotaku. It turned out that the outlet happens to also charge indie developers $25,000 for promo.
“Apparently it’s okay for Kotaku to charge you $25K as an indie dev for prominent advertising, but not Sony, where you’ll likely get much better exposure, lol,” @saucenaopls wrote.
WOW, IMAGINE CHARGING PEOPLE $25K TO ADVERTISE ON YOUR PLATFORM
— 🔍 Anime/Art Source Locator 🏳️⚧️ (@saucenaopls) June 30, 2021
No More Robots head Mike Rose also shared a few thoughts on his colleague’s criticism towards Sony. He said that indie developers are “too worried to say it publicly”, although most of them agree with the problems. Last year, Rose was the one who pointed out issues with poor discoverability on the PlayStation store.
Matthew White from indie publisher WhiteThorn said that PlayStation is the “worst performing platform’ for his company, as it accounts for less than 3 percent of total sales. According to White, they had to wait eight months for devkits. It also takes months for Sony to answer emails, and the company allegedly sends sales reports in “Excel-driven invoices that require manual invoicing like it’s 1928.”
Alright, I’m gonna unfortunately throw my hat in here as well. We **love** our Platform X friends, and I’m former Platform X employee myself, but we cannot move the needle on the platform.
— Matthew White (@matthewmwhite) June 30, 2021
Hypnospace Outlaw creator Jay Tholen also confirmed Iain Garner’s words. He said that his game has generated more revenue on itch.io than on PlayStation, which makes Sony’s platform even less attractive for indies.
Moving the spotlight away from Sony, Rock, Paper, Shotgun co-founder John Walker urged developers to share how much money Microsoft, Nintendo, and Steam charge for features and promos. Hopefully, it means that we’ll soon have intel on other platform’s promotion policies.
BTW, if anyone would like to share charges for store prominence from Microsoft, Nintendo or Steam, my DMs are open, and it can be off-the-record/anonymous.
— John Walker Is Double Vaxxed (@botherer) June 30, 2021
Nicely summing up the struggles of his fellow devs, indie developer Mohammed Fahmi wrote this: “The silliest thing I read from the whole console discourses is that people think all you need to do to survive in the game industry is to ‘make good games.’ Don’t get me wrong, game’s quality is super important. But it’s just a few steps in a long ladder filled with death traps.”
And we haven’t even touched the fact that without proper nepo— *cough* I mean Connection, releasing a game is a Herculean task.
There are probably thousands of potentially good games never went pass ideas & prototyping just because the devs are in the “wrong” part of the world.
— fahmiツ (@fahmitsu) July 1, 2021