Image from Twitter account of Matthew White of WhiteThorn Games (edited to fit)

Indie developers make case to PlayStation over store policies, tools and account management

A handful of indie developers and publishers have spoken out on Twitter against PlayStation about the support they receive from the PlayStation Store, particular in regards to the tools and promotions on offer. While none named the platform outright, they all made it very clear to whom they were referring. 

A handful of threads from respected indies was kicked off by Iain Garner of Neon Doctrine (best known for Steam hit Lost Castle). But he was quickly backed up by Mike Rose from No More Robots (Descenders amongst many) and then Matthew White of WhiteThorn Games (Calico and Lake). 

Garner said “Platform X gives developers no ability to manage their games. In order to get promotion you must jump through hoops, beg and plead for any level of promotion. And a blog is not as good as they think it is. If Platform X doesn’t like your game, no fanfare no feature no love.”

He added that wishlists made no difference, that the process of getting a game on the platform required an account manager, but that how to get one was obscure, and that even a launch discount required approval, and that approval is very limited. 

Mike Rose chipped in with a note of general support, saying: “There’s a thread going round today that lots of people are sharing. The reason you don’t see more threads like it, is because devs are too worried to say it publicly. But trust me when I say that the vast majority of devs are reading that thread, and nodding their heads violently.” 

And then Matthew White added his considerable bit to the discussion, opening with: “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.  Less than 3% of sales as a company are on PX.” 

White spent over a year at PlayStation as a Senior Data Analyst, so he is well positioned to make comment on the platform. 

“PX is our worst performing platform, worse than other well-known plumber or supersoldier related video game systems, and also worse than DRM-free sales platforms like Itch, etc.  Last month we made more on Google Admob. Marketing, analytics, CPM, etc. tools are nonexistent.”

“Average email responses are in months, not days or weeks.  We have no visibility or communication with what is happening at PX. It took us more than eight months to get kits for PXs hardware, despite having numerous confirmed IPs on the title.

“We have a full time employee who spends more than half of his time digging through sales reports for PX, as they are sent in excel-driven invoices that require manual invoicing like it’s 1928. There is internal chaos with messages coming from random teams at random times.

“We’re a company with about 19 full time, 10 part time employees, and I’m honestly not sure life to date we’ve made more on this platform than they’re asking us to pay out of pocket for featuring. We regularly have to ‘go over’ our AM directly to corporate to get anything done.

“It’s impossible to plan launch support, vouchers for Kickstarter backers take months to generate, nobody will answer support emails.  We get no store ops opportunities, PS5 featuring and placement is a giant mystery. Our AM regularly says he’ll address them and just doesn’t.

He added “Wanna be super clear that I want all of you in the comments section to stop turning this into a console wars narrative. That’s absolutely NOT the intention of this tweet as we love all of our console partners. Rather, I want to see support for devs improve across the ecosystem!”

Hopefully all of this will create a positive reaction from Sony with regard to the way it manages smaller publishers and developers. It looks like the process needs a complete rework, and Sony has to either spend more to better manage indies who are seeing greater success on other platforms, or open things up and accept that it can’t fulfil the potential of smaller publishers without allowing some more shovelware onto the platform. 

 

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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