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How Microsoft's Hostile Indie Policies Could Impact PS4

Push Square: "We’ve been holding off writing about Microsoft’s overdue Xbox One indie policies for a few days now, because this is something that really shouldn’t be particularly relevant on a PlayStation-centric site. There’s always wider competitive overlap that we look to explore, of course, but the details of another platform holder’s self-publishing protocol really shouldn’t matter to fans of the PlayStation 4 and Vita. However, it does when some clauses may adversely affect Sony’s systems."

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xHeavYx963d ago

Easy fix. Indies who don't agree with the policy will opt out of the [email protected], just like Witch Beam did, eventually MS will have to (yet again) change their policy to stop being so restrictive

Dlacy13g963d ago

Or they just stay the course as the policy really has more impact on devs that are already far into developement on PS4 anyway. They still also have options if they truly want to put their game on the xbox platform. The parity clause is for self published games but they certainly could do a publishing deal with MS if they wanted to bring it to Xbox One later.

And before we jump on MS for this policy is it really asking for too much? I mean release parity in trade for 2 dev kits and free access to Unity seems like a decent trade off for a small dev team.

amiga-man963d ago

This does nothing for the devs and nothing for the consumer, this only suits M$, luckily with the PS4 looking to be the dominant platform M$ will not have the same influence as last gen hopefully that means devs give M$ the middle finger and the PS4 is given the support it deserves.

Dlacy13g963d ago

@amiga-man... "This does nothing for the devs and nothing for the consumer" ... free access to Unity and 2 dev kits does help developers sorry to disagree but it does. And while it may not do anything for Sony or Nintendo consumers this policy does ensure Xbox consumers are getting these games on the same day as others. You may not think that is a big deal but the reality is games that launch in parity will perform better than something that comes to a platform after it came out elsewhere.

OrangePowerz963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

Having it mandatory to release at the same time or earlier on the Xbox One is too much to ask. It's small developers with limited resources, they can't launch on 5 platforms at the same time.

If they publish with MS they will get the short end of the stick by having timed exclusive forced on their game, that's how all those indie games where timed exclusive for the 360 because MS published them and forced them to do that.

bromtown963d ago

@Dlacy13g True, the licenses to Unity is a good deal for small devs, and free devkits can only be a good thing but with the PS4 being easier to port games to from PC/Steam (primary indie development platform) are devkits for PS4 as necessary? There are far fewer intricacies when developing for PS4 from what I've gleamed reading dev interviews so maybe Sony can loan devkits out, but most of the work can be done on a PC? Whereas to develop for Xbox you need access to a devkit at all times?

Probably way off, I'm not a developer but just a thought.

amiga-man963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

Typical M$ give with one hand take with another, I'm sorry Diacy M$ is all about control you only have to look at their crazy DRM plans to see that, it's the same with their dominance of the windows market, people are getting tired of M$ greed and it will come back to bite them.

darthv72963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

People need to stop with the assumptions that development on one platform is really that much different than the next. The ps4 and xb1 are more alike than different.

the x86 design is meant to bridge the development gap that existed prior. so if a game is developed on the PC initially (which it very well could be) then the porting process should take less time when going to the ps4 and xb1 because of their PC-esq designs.

Now granted we would all like to see these games tailored to the individual platforms but we are talking about "indie" games not big corporate games. indie games are more about the low cost of initial release and higher yield of returns. To do that then they pretty much have to release on as many platforms as they are comfortable of programming for.

the policy of release parity is not meant to hurt anyone but broaden the scope of exposure. Unless a big company approaches an indie dev for exclusive release/publishing rights these smaller houses are going to do what is in THEIR best interest in making sure their game is available to the masses no matter what.

the part i am most concerned with is the quality of work. Im sure we would not want there to be a slew of half-assed content released on PSN, xbl and e-shop like we have had in the past. We will get the crap but i would hope there is more efforts made to keep the crap at a minimum.

OrangePowerz963d ago

@Darth

You might misunderstand the parity part a bit it's not only about the game being the same it's also about MS not allowing the game if it came out before on another platform and requires that the release date is the same or earlier.

xHeavYx963d ago

@Darth
When did you start developing for the One and the PS4? You seem to have a superior knowledge of how the systems work.

By the way, small companies may decide to start working on their game for a different platform than the One, and unlike big gaming names, they don't have the capital to hold their release and start developing for the One

mewhy32963d ago

this could have a positive affect of PS4. more devs will be coming to Sony.

darthv72963d ago

@heavy...this isnt PS1 and Saturn development days anymore.

It isnt hard to figure out that both companies went their respected routes to make development of games as close to the familiar territory of the PC as possible.

Pretty much all game development gets started on a PC (of some sort) and then as it progresses it gets refined on development kits that are equal to the target system.

the benefit of both the Ps4 and xb1 being so PC-related should make the whole porting process painless (key word: should). no outrageous CPU's to recode for (cell, RSX, Emotion engine...etc). Perhaps slightly modified but pretty much off the shelf type parts inside: memory system, cpu/gpu...etc.

Where the obvious differences lie is in the control scheme but you can pretty much use mapping to reconfigure one control layout to another controller type.

so unless these smaller devs are taking advantage of the touch pad of the DS4 or the kinect 2 of the xb1...the core game mechanics would more than likely be the same.

"You seem to have a superior knowledge of how the systems work." ....no real superior knowledge needed but thanks for implying.

kingPoS963d ago

What if someone didn't want a devkit with strings attached. That sounds a lot like what some cable companies do; they advertise that the box is free when it really isn't.

Gateway MT6706 2008

TRGMatt963d ago

Indie = Independent...what Microsoft requires takes a chunk of the freedom away from that fact. Indies should be able to release to whichever audiences they wish to dedicate the time and energy (and finances) to reach, not be guided in a certain direction because that's what Big Brother wants. Unless of course they are being paid to do so. Which they are not.

If an indie WANTS to adhere to these policies and they are fine with them, so be it. But they shouldn't be forced to.

Charybdis963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

Currently indie devs enrolling into the pilot project will need to adhere parity policy, meaning: if on multiple platforms releasing the product simultaneously and launching with same 'on disc'content. This changes the roadmap for the smaller indie devs who might decide to focus on pc and xbox one first due to these policies. Might be good for xb1 not so much for ps4.

On the other hand its not a good policy for the xb1. Because we will see indie games launching and already having been launched on ps4 not getting acces to [email protected] program (not sure what the acceptance policie is for these devs, if no exclusivity deal with sony).
It would seem wise to also allow these devs into the program. Since this is a pilot program its likely the clause might be changed as surely successful future and current indie devs on the ps4 can expect an invitation to the program for their respective indie game(s) on the ps4.

dedicatedtogamers962d ago

People know I am no big fan of Microsoft (however, unlike your average internet troll I have a history with Microsoft stretching back to the days of MS-DOS)

That said, I think these articles are barking up the wrong tree. Microsoft is giving out a free dev kit and a free engine license and all they ask in return from self-publishers is that they at LEAST launch their game at the same time as PC/PS4/Wii-U. My understanding is that if you self publish ON YOUR OWN without receiving the free dev kit and engine licence, you are free to do it however you want. Maybe I'm mistaken.

mechlord962d ago

@darthv72

I think youre missing some key points here.
First, this is all about indies. In the real world, indies traditionally develop for PC (steam), make some money and invest part of it into one console. Make some cash and invest into the second console and repeat until all their demographics are covered. They rarely have the time and resources to port a game simultaneously to 2-3 consoles...they're indies you know. The consoles have differences, notable ones, that impact on the whole process.

You should note that this MS initiative is bullshit because:

indies aren't rushing to it like they did (and do) for the ps4;

this deal isnt good for the indies unless youre willing to put extra money (get more people for multiple ports) or extend the time (same guys do the port) and potentially lose a good release window. This is all about MS trying to copy SONY with a "we indie too motto" but they are strangle-holding them. Without this parity nonsense, ps4 is thriving with indies..

+ Show (12) more repliesLast reply 962d ago
JsonHenry963d ago

Sniff, sniff. I love the smell of the open market! I will play your indie games on Steam and PS4 if MS wants to be anti-consumer, anti-productive, and anti-profit sharing! I promise!

JackISbacK963d ago

the article is stating for long run it will be benificial for xb1 ,but at least not for now so for what they change their polisy possibly you will be getting more time exclusives on ps4 but in future things may cahnge because of ms great policy to indie devs ,please dont talk shit for those to whom you dont like stay happy with your ps4 ,iam happy with both ,stop releasing poison for compamnies.

Prime157963d ago

Do you really not see how this simple policy can be harmful?

nosferatuzodd963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

Microsoft will be the death of gaming just like in the 80s this is the reason i would never support Microsoft they could have the world greatest system ill either stop playing games or go the pc rout

IcicleTrepan963d ago

Don't be foolish. Do you have any idea what caused the problem in the 80s?

Also, saying that x or y will be the death of gaming is extremely alarmist and is equivalent to saying the death of movies or the death of books. It's ridiculous.

GameSpawn963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

In more detail to what IcicleTrepan is referring:

The Video Game Market crash of the '80s was due to the market being VERY small in comparison to now and having too many console competitors in the market. Also, with the vast variety of consoles there was also a vast variety of poorly made software flooding the market on these different systems.

All these factors together caused HUGE market confusions and drove ALL but Nintendo, Sega, and Atari (who scraped by on the skin of their teeth to die in the early 90's) out of the business.

The gaming market is so damned big now that it has created a form of check and balances that prevents too many consoles from being on the market at one given time leading to the problem in the 80's. If you don't believe this is the case, look at how hard it has been for Steam Machines and Ouya to gain ANY traction against Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The home console market is just barely big enough for three consoles to thrive (I say barely because the guy in third is always "feeding on the scraps").

For there to be ANYTHING on the scale of the 80's crash with today's market, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo would ALL need to majorly f'up at the SAME time. So far they have managed to misstep out of sync of each other, though Microsoft's DRM fiasco did coincide with a pretty lackluster WiiU launch -- both recovered before any major damage was done.

come_bom963d ago

I simple solution to all the indies that don't have the man power to do simultaneous release. Release the game first on the X1 and later on release it on other platforms.

amiga-man963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

Or put your efforts into the less restrictive easier to develope PS4 console until it forces M$ to change their controlling ways, better for devs better for the consumer.

BlackTar187963d ago

this is so A$$ backwards Come_BOM

its awful people like you that let these terrible companies (M$ seriously being the worst)to thrive.

come_bom963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

@BlackTar187

So you disagree with Microsoft's policies... but tell me, do you agree with Sony's policies in relation to games that are released on Sony platforms after being released on other platforms have to have extra content, that way forcing the developer to do extra work ?

Stop being a blind fanboy and use your brain. This is a business. Both Microsoft's and Sony's policies are bad for developers, specially indies... but that's the way it is. Take it or leave it.

BlackTar187963d ago

Come_Bom,

You do see the difference right?

Both are stuff that shouldn't be required one is not restrictive though.

I guarntee my brain works way better then yours since you're all for reasoning with yourself with a HUHUH they do this so we do that mentality. This isn't a highschool

Prime157963d ago

Yeah, and that's exactly why some of us are angry. Don't you get it? Sony might HAVE to write the same clause to compete.

You people have too much trust in the company that has always tried to control your spending habits.

come_bom963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

@BlackTar187

Stop with that fanboy mentality. They are BOTH BAD policies (Sony and Microsoft).

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 963d ago
Sarcasm963d ago

Yeah I think MS is missing the whole point of what "indies" are about. Indies are not trying to be restricted by a corporate conglomerate.

But like Heavy said, indies have the choice to not release on it if they don't like it. Pretty simple choice.

rainslacker962d ago (Edited 962d ago )

I kind of want to put this up top so people will hopefully read it. It's pretty obvious that no one responding to you has a clue about developing games, or how to publish them.

This policy, while not all that beneficial or open for either the gamer or developer, probably won't affect most self-publishing indies as much as many are assuming. It does effect the ones that are now close to, or currently developing on PS4 or other platforms, as X1 development wasn't in the works, and they obviously don't want to delay their games to get it going on X1.

Here's the bottom line. Both Sony, and MS are offering free versions of Unity to use for their indie programs. Sony also offers their SDK, but more often than not, and indie is going to go with a multi-platform engine such as Unity or Unreal.

These particular indie devs aren't going to have to code down to the metal, and optimize thousands of lines of code to make the software work on different systems, because the engines act as a type of run time environment. In fact, Unity is a run time environment using Mono. For anyone that's ever played around with Unity, or UDK, you probably have seen that you can easily build a game to different architecture without much issue, and given that the architectures are so similar to the leading platform, most likely PC, it will be even simpler to iron out platform specific bugs.

While it's possible to supersede the run times with low level code, it probably won't be done on such a large scale that optimizing it between a few different platforms will make that much of a difference in the time to market.

None of what is going on with [email protected] is going to be the death knell of indies on any platform, nor is there much need for there to be as much drama about it as there is. Its not likely to affect release dates of future indie titles to such a degree that anyone here would notice. And in the end, it would be better for those indies to release in as many places as possible.

Now. All that being said. I really don't feel that MS needs to have a policy like this in place. If they have the market share, people will want to publish games on there at the same time as other places naturally. Running two advertising campaigns for indie games costs more than one, so multi-plat release is generally a better way to go if it doesn't take significantly more time to develop.

Mosiac77962d ago

MS is to harsh on developers and It is all about money. but what they don't know is that holding back on developers it will hurt them in the future. I'm really disappointed at MS for these policies.

BABY-JEDI962d ago

Will MS ever, & I mean ever stop this nonsense. It's cheap shots after cheap shots. This cheap shot could just end up shooting themselves in the foot.
: P

+ Show (6) more repliesLast reply 962d ago
NYC_Gamer963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

I don't see any problem with MS wanting the games to be released on all platforms at the same time

Convas963d ago

Me either, but at the same time, it restricts an indie devs ability to get their games out on other console platforms if they don't have the man power to work on simultaneous releases.

Take Hello Game's 4-man team. No way they can do a simultaneous release. They'd be affected by this clause in the [email protected] program.

MS has to change it. If they truly want a wealth of content to flow on the Xbox One, they've got to get rid of this clause and it's gotta be done sooner, rather than later.

get2sammyb963d ago

If a studio doesn't have the bandwidth to release on multiple systems at the same time, then it has to delay the PlayStation/Nintendo versions -- or launch first on Xbox, even if it doesn't really want to.

That's not good for developers or consumers.

Godmars290963d ago

Its more about not having the money to make parallel multiplatform development. That's why you see a PC or a PC/one console release: the company involved doesn't have the resources to put it out on everything at the exact same time.

Kayant963d ago

It's a problem when/if these games will have to be delayed for other platforms because of it. It's quite anti-competitive because it kills any advantage other platforms give/have just because of MS's unreadiness in offering their policy late even though they claimed it wasn't an answer to other platforms policies but was in development for years. Nothing so far supports this.

This policy harms teams that are small because it creates unnecessary stress of them have to do simultaneous releases even thought they might not be able to. This can after other platforms because they may have to delay the release by potentially a couple of months.

Additionally for XB1 gamers that like indies it's not good news because if a game has already been released on another platform by default they are locked out of [email protected] and MS may or may not work with them on releasing it on their platform.

It's a policy that doesn't really help anyone but MS. It hurts indies & can after other platforms.

dericb11963d ago

@NYC_Gamer

Well look at it like this. Indie devs burn up all their money making the game for PS4 and Xbone. They finish PS4 first and will be a month more for Xbone. So to make some income they release for PS4 because its done. Because they need to money to know survive.

I guess your the type of person who will go to work and not wonder why your paycheck is three weeks late.

rainslacker962d ago (Edited 962d ago )

The reverse is likely true. Knowing this may be the case, they would develop the X1 version first, as they wouldn't want to have to delay it.

That may be what MS wants, so they can claim that the indies choose them first. Or it could be that they just want console day/content parity to not seem like a lesser console. This particular policy is even in effect for the big boys, and not just indie games.

Anyhow, In that way I feel that it is bad for PS owners, as this article posits, however, unless the dev themselves were set on PS/PC/WiiU first, I don't think it would matter as much to them.

However, it doesn't take into account the very real way that games are developed. I have a more detailed comment about that replying to the first comment.

Most indie devs that could take advantage of specific low level hardware features probably aren't going to be worried about all this. The ones that can't are going to be using a multi-platform engine which will streamline the process and make it almost as simple as pressing a button, barring some minor coding for platform differences and compliance.

Gamingcapacity963d ago

It's kind of a bullying tactic. They are bigger than indies so they must do whatever they want.

I'm surprised it hasn't backfired on them yet.

joab777963d ago

2 things. First...if MS is forcing Indies into using this program to self publish then it sucks b/c they may need to release elsewhere to get enough revenue to release on multiple platforms. If their games r done on Sony and they have to wait...they won't and this will hurt MS. But, if MS is allowing some instances in which it has already released...why not wait to sign up until u have released elsewhere. This also hurts MS.

Second, and the bigger issue at hand, is that MS missed a golden opportunity to change strategy when they pulled ahead of ps3 with xbox live and early Indy development. Its as if they r stuck in the mindframe that they need to entice ppl to come over. At one point years ago, they should have relieved restrictions and added incentives to bolster their already strong position instead string arming small companies. Th is has been MS' s policy for so long they may not know how else to do it. Yeah...many Indies cave b/c the idea of getting a paycheck is great and seeing their game on xbox live is awesome...but as the indie community gets stronger, they get more leverage. MS had better b careful.

Christopher963d ago

Here's the problem.

Most teams must release on one main console to utilize those funds to continue development on the others. Their goal in the end is to release on as many consoles as possible, but they have to start getting paid at some point before they can reach said goal.

This means XBO has to be first unless they don't want to release on said platform. This means they force people to be timed exclusive to XBO, and Microsoft gets to advertise it as such "coming first to XBO" when in reality they are forcing this constraint as a negative. IT also means that in order for them to release on XBO and PS4 at the same time, Sony has to invest money into the project or see their "open" indie environment seem like a second-place one as the small indie dev teams are being forced to release first on XBO or not at all.

This is essentially giving Microsoft too much power and the only way PS4 can combat it is to create a similar policy to ensure that they are not left out as Microsoft gains platform timed exclusives just by being limited in who can work with them.

In the end, this is competitive mayhem with Microsoft holding people hostage in order to reach their desired mass audience (all owners of XBO and PS4).

Kayant963d ago

Well said that's a rather interesting insight.

MightyNoX963d ago

Put me down for another "Well said", mister.

Prime157963d ago

Thank you, I was scared I would have to try to write that. You said it much better than I ever could. Bubbles away.

stavrami-mk2963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

i think its a great policy that way indie devs can just pass ms totally and stick to other platforms ..nice one microsoft for speeding up dev times and for putting all there man power on to the other versions

saber00005963d ago

I think these restriction is stupid. Put your Xbox and PS fanboy-ism aside and think. If it's a good game, why wouldn't you want more people playing it on other console. If you play an amazing game, and If you have friends that don't have an Xbox or a PS, but have a Computer or something else... Wouldn't you like them to experience the game that they might enjoy as much as you?

Seems like today's gamers seem to forget why they play video. These restrictions limit and makes game companies from profiting more money.

rainslacker962d ago

These restrictions were in place this gen as well. Both indie and AAA developers had to abide by it.

I don't really feel they are necessary, as prior generations have proven that games that release later on a different console can still do well.

I don't like the policy, and as I said, I don't feel it necessary, but I guess somewhere in MS mind it feels that it needs to do this to remain competitive. To me, it seems that as a gaming division, they would go out of their way to ensure that their user base has every opportunity to play the great games that are out there, regardless of what platform got them first.

In all honesty, this policy seems more reasonable on a AAA game development level, because despite how great some indie games are, they aren't the games that typically make people clamor for a system. These are the games that people buy when they know about them and they just want to play them. If they have to wait a couple extra months, most people will. I hate to say it, but indie games typically aren't the go-to games for any console...except Resogun for me.:)

saber00005962d ago

@rainslacker,

Hit the head on the nail.

+ Show (6) more repliesLast reply 962d ago
WeAreLegion963d ago

It just means we'll see more indie games on the PS4 for awhile, until Microsoft gives in and changes their policies again. It's a vicious cycle.

Christopher963d ago (Edited 963d ago )

Not likely. I think it will mean we will see more indie games on XBO first. Indie devs don't have much option and as long as both games go to both platforms, they'll do what needs to be done.

Edit: To those who disagree with me...

While I don't agree with this business decision, it really is "scummy" in my opinion, I am not going to act like it isn't going to result in a victory for Microsoft here. You guys need to understand that Indie Developers have to make money and they want to release on many platforms. Unless they are otherwise wooed away, the better business decision for them is to either go XBO first or hope to get them at the same time. Either way, the only way they will get on PS4 first is if Sony gives them enough to make up for the loss of potential sales on XBO.

So, from a business stand point, my statement above stands. No amount of how much I dislike this business move will change that.

tl;dr even indie devs have to get paid

S2Killinit963d ago

your comment is right on. I'm hoping that the larger install base of PS4 will cause indies to push back and say, well, I'm doing it on PS4 first, whether or not you like it. Only then would MS be forced to change this policy. But then again, what kind of victory is that? it only means that MS will be forced to change its policies because it had to. Next generation they could be on top, and whats to stop them from strong arming the industry again? Im just so pissed off that MS is getting away with policies like these... ):

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