Indie developers have repeatedly talked about the negative experience of working with PlayStation. Yesterday it turned out that the feature in the PS Store costs $ 25 thousand. After that, Sony was hit by a new wave of criticism. Developers began to point out many other problems of the company — including lack of support, poor game findability, and, as a result, low sales of indie games.

It all started with the post of Ian Garner, co-founder of the indie publishing house Neon Doctrine. Among the company’s most famous games are Yuppie Psycho, Vigil: The Longest Night, Lost Castle and Simulacra.

“I am angry enough to burn bridges, he wrote in a thread published on June 30. Garner did not name the platform holder, specifying it simply as Platform X. However, it was possible to understand that we are talking about Sony — including from the description: “This is the operator of a very successful console that does not have a Game Pass.”

Key points from the Garner thread

  • According to the co-founder of Neon Doctrine, developers have to literally “beg” Sony for at least some promotion in the PS Store. The platform can guarantee a feature for only $25 thousand.
  • It’s not enough for developers to just release a good game. To work with PlayStation, you need to go through “incredibly complex” quality control, make a special trailer, write a blog post and prepare the necessary posts for social networks. At the same time, some of these points cannot be done without the approval of managers who do not make contact well.
  • Garner claims that Sony prohibits discounts on games at the launch. Everything happens only with the approval of the company. “It literally took us years to arrange a sale of one of our games. I’ve talked to some popular developers, and everyone has had a similar experience,” Garner writes.
  • Last year, Lucas Pope, the creator of Return of the Obra Dinn, and other indie developers have already drawn attention to this problem. Because of this, it is difficult for studios to make discounts on all platforms at once, because Sony sometimes simply ignores their requests.
  • At the end of his thread, Garner noted that PlayStation is a very successful platform with excellent hardware, but its “backend and other processes are organized as if it’s the beginning of the noughties.”

Reaction of other developers

Garner’s thread provoked heated discussions in the professional community.

Cristian Botea, project manager of the indie studio and publisher of Those Awesome Guys, confirmed all of Garner’s statements. He pointed out the lack of support at the launch and problems with sales. “I can’t understand why they ignore so many games that perform well on other platforms, Botea wrote.

Kotaku sources also confirmed that Sony really charges $ 25 thousand for the feature, and sometimes this amount reaches $ 200 thousand. However, later the user @saucenaopls posted a screenshot of his correspondence with the publication. It turned out that Kotaku also charges indie developers $ 25 thousand for a promo – because of this, many accused the publication of hypocrisy.

“That is, it is normal for Kotaku to charge indie developers $ 25 thousand for advertising, while criticizing Sony, on whose site you are likely to get more exhaust, @saucenaopls noted.

Mike Rose, the head of the publisher of No More Robots, said that many indie developers are still afraid to talk publicly about Sony. However, they all understand and recognize the existence of problems. Last year, Rose himself criticized the PlayStation for poor findability and visibility of indie games in the PS Store.

John Walker, co-founder of the Rock, Paper, Shotgun portal and the website about indie games Buried Treasure, also drew attention to the situation. He urged developers to write to him in person about the cost of promotion on other platforms — including Microsoft, Steam and Nintendo.

Matthew White said that PlayStation is the worst platform in terms of revenue for his indie publisher WhiteThorn. It accounts for less than 3% of all sales. White noted that they had been waiting for Devkits for more than eight months. Sony also responds to emails for an average of several months and sends sales reports in Excel spreadsheets, where all bills have to be collected manually — “as if it were 1982”.

Garner’s words were confirmed by many other indie developers who faced similar problems. Jay Tholen, the creator of Hypnospace Outlaw, said that his game earns more on than on PlayStation.

“People think you just need to make ‘good games’ to survive in the industry. And this is the stupidest thing I’ve read in console discussions. Don’t get me wrong, quality is a very important thing. But these are just a couple of steps on a long ladder full of deadly traps, wrote indie developer Mohammed Fahmi