Indie devs flock to PS4 to self-publish, how The Witness became PS4 exclusive

February 23, 2013

Indie devs flock to PS4 due to self-publishing rights, how The Witness became PS4 exclusiveSony is taking the indie scene very seriously as reiterated by Shuhei Yoshida, head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios. Many indie developers have already started to flock to the PS4 with the ultimate promise of self-publishing rights.

Over the years, indie developers have complained over Microsoft’s increasingly bureaucratic policies that are viewed as somewhat heavy handed. Hello Games once called Xbox Live a “slaughter house” for indie games citing the fact that Microsoft does not allow developers to self-publish. Instead they have to seek out a third party publisher such as EA or Activision at which point the money made back starts to dwindle on an already low profit margin.

Developers that can’t find a publisher may have the option to have Microsoft do the publishing (if the company is interested). The studio then has to make further sacrifices such as possibility of losing the IP and the right to publish on a competing platform such as the PS3.

Sony started changing some of this with the PS3 by allowing devs to self-publish. However, with the PS4, Sony is looking to take things even further by expanding this concept to its mobile platform. According to Yoshida, devs wanting to create indie titles on PlayStation Mobile can do so for free without having to purchase a dev kit and self-publish.

Just Add Water, best known for the Oddworld series recently announced that it was working on a PS4 game. Jonathan Blow, the brains behind Braid which was a timed exclusive on Xbox Live made a surprising announcement when he unveiled The Witness, a beautifully crafted vibrant open world puzzle game. According to Blow, his game will have no fillers and will be super condensed and will still manage to deliver over 25 hours of gameplay time.

In an interview with CVG, Blow revealed that The Witness will be a timed exclusive on the PS4. Back in 2011, Blow had this to say about PSN:

If you’re thinking about the impact of indie games on the whole forum of games then probably Sony has done more because of the way they curate the games they put on there – they’re actually looking for games that are artful or experimental.

Apparently the reason The Witness became a timed PS4 exclusive was due to Microsoft’s lack of communication.

There were people at Sony who really liked the game and were keeping in touch with us about it, and so we naturally started going to their PS4 developer events, got a dev kit, and started playing with it.

I don’t have good communication with anyone at Microsoft right now, and haven’t been disclosed on their next console, but all our technical people like the PS4 specs a lot more than the leaked Durango specs, and we like the positioning of the PS4 (it’s about games) a lot more than what we perceive Microsoft’s positioning is going to be.

This perception that Microsoft is pushing indie gaming is something that has been building over time. A major complaint from the XBLIG community is Microsoft attempt to burry the indie game section deeper and deeper within the dashboard menus with every update.

This is what one angry indie developer said about Microsoft’s dashboard updates:

I think Indie Games was originally conceived to goose the major publishers in to supporting digital distribution – since they were slow to adopt. "Mission accomplished, now Indie Games go away."

Journey was voted Game of the Year by many gaming outlets overtaking even full retail packaged games. Self-publishing is going to be a big deal going into the next generation for a lot of these indie studios and it seems that Sony is looking to embrace this model.

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16 Responses to “Indie devs flock to PS4 to self-publish, how The Witness became PS4 exclusive”

  1. Zoar:

    Wow. good news!

  2. ncaissie:

    Wow shit news! PSN has enough shit games now it will be loaded with shit fart apps.
    Thanks Sony!

  3. ncaissie:

    The Witness looks like a stupid iPad game. Trace paths and that’s it? What the fuck? Is that what we can expect for next gen?
    I wish they would fuck off with these shit games like flower, flow, journey and now this?

  4. phranctoast:

    Very narrow minded ncaissie. You’re not forced to buy or even play any of these games. Why would you “wish” for games that others really enjoy but you don’t to go away?

  5. ncaissie:

    I have to sift through that shit every day on iOS so how does it not affect me? I’m forever spending money on this shit because they steel screenshots (or switch them after they are approved) and they turn out to be non functional shit. I call apple and they say will will only do this once. There is no accountability with this crap. I know you like those gay games flower and flow so I can see your frustration. It’s fine.

  6. oldschool1987:

    Flow is a good game and Journey has topped many game of the year awards, I can’t speak to Journey so I can’t give an opinion if it deserves it but the game is recieving critical acclaim.

    I know they ain’t your type of game Caissie but there’s no need to totally bash them and call them gay lmao. I like Flow and I’m not gay because I don’t push back lol!

  7. harry sachz:


  8. oldschool1987:

    Hey Harry, how you been pal? And what you laughing at? Lol

  9. Roca.:

    Sony keeps on giving

    Meanwhile on XBL…

  10. harry sachz:

    heh you Oldie! I hope you don’t mind, but I shall be stealing that joke and using it myself.

    How have you been?

  11. oldschool1987:

    Oh the push back? Haha …wasnt a joke *frowny face* lol.

    I’m good pal, just back into battlefield which isn’t good because too many games out soon. Not enough time in the world as it is.

  12. oldschool1987:

    Walking Dead game- 10/10 just completed all episodes, brilliant in every way. One of the best narratives in a game since, god knows when.

  13. astrixzero:

    So many things wrong with this article:

    1) The Witness is not PS4 “exclusive”, as it will also be also available on PC/Steam; same deal with the Oddworld developers. This hardly constitutes “flocking” to the PS4.

    2) Journey isn’t really an indie title, as it was funded by Sony and used their engine, and SCE Santa Monica worked on the title as well. The game’s development almost bankrupted Thatgamecompany, which is why their next game will be multiplatform.

    3) The Joe Danger developers clarified their “Slaughterhouse” comment:

    In which they actually complained about third party publishers on XBLA and their lack of quality control. Furthermore they actually praised MS in being straighforward to deal with, and noted that whereas Sony is more individual and take a more hands off approach, MS tend to be more structured and reliable.

  14. harry sachz:

    Yeah I downloaded the first episode about a month back, haven’t played much of it yet as the 4 year old hogs the ipad.

    I’m getting back into Dead Island, it’s on my pile of shame. It’s a freaking long game! I haven’t even done many sidequests and have poured a heap of hours into it already.

  15. Godless:

    welcome to Blorge astrix

  16. Roca.:

    “The game’s development almost bankrupted Thatgamecompany, which is why their next game will be multiplatform”

    Actually the reason they are going multiplatform is because their 3-game deal with Sony ended with Journey.

    Most indie developer agreed that XBL is a worse than PSN. That’s why we’ve seen many more exclusive on PSN over tha last couple of years.

    Machinaruim never was released on XBL for a reason. Here is what the creator of the game said: “Microsoft just refused Machinarium for XBLA after a half year of talking with them. They like the game and know it would be very successful on their platform, but they don’t want to support games which aren’t Microsoft exclusives. Machinarium isn’t, since we’ve also released versions for Mac and Linux. We have another option to approach some big publisher to bring the game to XBLA, which is quite absurd to do and lose maybe a large part of revenue because of that”

    Also, Witness is a console exclusive even though it will be on PC/Steam. It was the same with L4D, Gears 1, Mass Effect and many others – they were all available on PC but were called “360 exclusives” (even the case of some of these games said “Only on Xbox” – )

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