As last week’s Xbox One reveal gets further and further away, it seems like statements coming out of Microsoft aren’t accompanied by the other shoe dropping nearly as often. A week ago, Kotaku‘s interview with Don Mattrick would’ve been accompanied by a direct contradiction from Major Nelson later that day, but that’s seeming less likely.
Microsoft “will have an independent creator program,” according to the interactive entertainment head. “We’re going to sponsor it. We’re going to give people tools. We’re going to give more information.”
Coupled with word that independent devs wouldn’t be able to self-publish on Xbox One, we can reach a fairly simple conclusion: small game publishing isn’t changing and the indie section is disappearing.
Sony, on the other hand, has been actively courting independent developers with the PlayStation 4 and their current console’s PlayStation Store.
Throughout the current generation, Sony has focused on carefully choosing colorful, stylish, and creative games for its downloadable library, with titles like Dyad coming to mind, while Microsoft has looked for games with broader appeal like the wildly successful Xbox Live version of Minecraft, which has sold over six million copies as of earlier this month.
The biggest casualty is the aforementioned Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. The Indie Games channel wasn’t exactly a hit machine, with the exception of the stellar I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1, a bunch of Minecraft clones, and an app that turns your controller into a “vibrating massager.” Then it got buried in the most recent overhaul of the dashboard, all but foreshadowing the information coming from Microsoft this week.
Harsh comments from Fez‘s Phil Fish and Retro City Rampage‘s Brian Provinciano don’t help the reputation this cultivates, either. Fish’s well-publicized decision not too update Fez on Xbox Live due to recertification fees and the difficulties Provinciano experienced getting his game posted at the correct price and at a time it would sell both cast a negative light on Microsoft.
While it remains to be seen how it’ll actually happen, it’s likely we can expect to see the same interaction with indie developers from Microsoft, for better or worse, and whether Sony’s courting of those developers will pull them away from Microsoft or just turn the games into multiplatform games.