Bithell: A console release is a badge of honour

Thomas Was Alone and Volume developer Mike Bithell has said that getting his games released on consoles has made a big difference to his success.

It’s really interesting, the credibility consoles still have. I think because PC is ‘the open platform’ and anyone can release a PC game,” he told Gamasutra. Your average gamer who is not seeking out weird indie stuff – for them, me having a PC game coming out doesn’t impress them.

It’s actually a badge of honor to those people. I know Thomas Was Alone gained an incredible amount of ‘mindspace’, or whatever pretentious bullshit term a marketer would use, because it was out on console. And I saw a ridiculous sales boost just because, the second people saw it was coming to PlayStation, it became a ‘real game’ for a lot of people.”

Bithell also explained that PlayStation is increasingly playing the role once served by Steam, adding that the rise in the number of indie successes and the opening up of platforms mean that both traditional and new forms of marketing are again growing in importance.

I struggle to believe that Thomas Was Alone would have been successful were it to come out now on Steam,” he admitted. It was on the front page of Steam for a week. It was released right before that final moment where being on Steam meant Valve thought you made a great game. That used to be what that meant.

I thought Steam Dev Days was going to be the announcement of ‘Everyone can be on Steam’. But I think that’s what’s coming – something like the App Store, with very simple checks to make sure you’re not uploading a virus, and that’s it.

I guess it’s not dissimilar to the Nintendo seal of approval they have on the boxed games. Steam meant something at one point, and being on Steam said something to players that allowed a lot of people with weird, esoteric games to get an audience. That’s going to be harder to find now.

You’ll require more traditional marketing and talking to press. I think other curators will come in. Look at YouTubers with their audiences who get ridiculous numbers of views. I know from my own data that they lead to a lot of sales. So I think that’s going to come through. It’s sort of a return to it being about marketing.”

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