Rocket League Dev Explains Why They Launched First On PS4 And Then On The Xbox One

“The more players you get yourself in front of, the better.”

Posted By | On 18th, May. 2016 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Rocket League Hoops

One of the things that has marked this generation has been indie game developers favoring the PlayStation ecosystem over the Xbox one- there are probably many reasons for this. Between PS3, PS4, and PS Vita, developers get access to a far wider audience than they can on just Xbox One alone- and there is also the fact that Sony have been far more inviting of independent developers than Microsoft, at least at first.

Until recently, this manifested itself in indie games generally choosing to appear only on PlayStation- something that has gradually changed to now, where games appear on PlayStation first, followed then by Xbox. So when we got the chance to interview Psyonix, we decided to ask them the simple question- why? Why not target both the Xbox and PlayStation at once? Why did they, in the end, go with PlayStation first?

“We launched Rocket League for the PlayStation 4, on PS+, a very good strategy to get the game in front of as many people as we could, with the intent of selling it to other players and other platforms, once they’d have had the good word of mouth from the PlayStation version, which would help with the sales,” said Jeremy Dunham, VP, Marketing and Communications at Psyonix. “Plus simultaneously we would also use the audience we got on the PlayStation side to sell DLC, and to prove to them, and everyone else, what kind of community we wanted to build for the game. And so for us, it was all about creating a community around Rocket League, and not around a single system- and I think that is the right approach to take, because the biggest challenge for any game developer is whether or not they have the resources to run on that game platform. And you have to find similarities between each one to see which ones work best for you.”

It turns out that indie game developers not having much marketing resources is one of the reasons that they opt for PlayStation first- where the wider install base, and the visibility one gets thanks to programs like PS+, help get the word out.

“The reason we started our whole marketing campaign on PS+ was because Sony has a very large user base, and PS+ was a great avenue to solve the problem we had, which was, ‘how do we get this game in front of all these people without a large marketing campaign?’ So my challenge was to try and figure out how to market this game with no cost to us. Because we didn’t have any marketing money, we spent it all on development. So that strategy, it turned out it worked for us, and the reason it worked on a technical level was because we started development on PC, and the toolset available to us as developers on the PS4 is very similar to the tools we used to build Rocket League on the PC, so it was very easy for us to do simultaneous development on those two platforms.”

Another reason that Xbox is usually saved for later is that the PC and PS4 seem to be far closer to one another in terms of hardware architecture than the Xbox is- so by hitting one of those platforms, hitting the other simultaneously becomes easy. For smaller development teams wanting to hit as big an audience as possible, this leads to the PlayStation version being prioritized over the Xbox One version- at first. Psyonix definitely believes that they benefitted greatly from going to Xbox, and that development teams should, given the resources, strive for multiplatform game development, if they can.

“And that’s why you saw us hit those two platforms first, in the beginning, and then Xbox came later, because the Xbox tools, and the way the architecture of the system is built, is different than what we have for the PS4 and PC,” Dunham continued. “And so it’s very key that you go through the platforms in the right order, to do multiplatform development properly, but had we not put the game on Xbox for example, that would have been over 2 million less players than we have right now. And so by not going to Xbox, we would have cut our revenue by many tens of millions of dollars. Plus we’ve added new players into the ecosystem, and we have the opportunity to bridge the gap between the previously closed Xbox ecosystem, and the very soon to be open Xbox ecosystem, and these are all good reasons to do mulitplatform development from our perspective. From any development team’s perspective, the more players you put yourself in front of, the better- but you always have to weigh the time and resources that it costs to get there. And that’s always the challenge, that will always be the difficult decision: where do you draw that line? Because if you don’t draw that line, you’ll never focus on the easiest, fastest, most cost effective way to develop a product, and deliver it to your audience the way you want it to be.”

Rocket League is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.


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  • Generalkidd

    I’m surprised that the PS4 is apparently closer to the PC in terms of architecture than the Xbox One. Both of them use the same CPU and GPU architecture. The only difference in terms of physical hardware is that the PS4 uses GDDR5 for system RAM while the Xbox One uses DRR3 with separate ESRAM. I figured the Xbox One’s DDR3 makes it more PC-like since most PC’s today still use DDR3 RAM. Perhaps it was the ESRAM that made it more complex than a PC compared to the PS4.

    • SilverSee

      It may have something to do with managing the ESRAM cache, and possibly with the choice of using DirectX vs. a cross platform API to target the PC.

    • Generalkidd

      Yeah I believe ESRAM is the likely culprit as well. However, I’m not sure about the DirectX API. When targeting games for PC, I’m pretty sure DirectX tends to be the top choice. Although if Rocket League was originally built on OpenGL, possibly for Mac and Linux support, then I guess it makes sense to target the PS4 first since it also only supports OpenGL. But the problem with that is Rocket League was built using Unreal Engine 3 which has full cross-platform compatibility in terms of API’s. So most likely it’s just the ESRAM that sets the Xbox One apart more than GDDR5 setting the PS4 apart.

    • Psionicinversion

      PS4 doesnt use opengl, its sonys custom api and is its own thing its certainly not cross platform

    • Generalkidd

      Ah yes you’re right. I did some more research into it and it was the PS3 that used a modified version of OpenGL. As for the PS4, I was surprised to find out that the PS4 actually uses Microsoft’s DirectX 11.1 API that’s been paired with Sony’s own custom low-level hardware API.

    • Psionicinversion

      Direct X is the dominant api on PC. opengl just doesnt even come into it and seeing as MS makes directX then its only natural they would use it on there own console and windows to

    • SilverSee

      Yes of course. The question was what did the developer use for PS4 that made it more like the PC than Xbox. It turns out that the PS4 does in fact have a DirectX 11-like API, so that’s probably not it.

    • Psionicinversion

      well it has to have a dx11 like api because they both utilise the same hardware in the GPU, they just use it differently. you cant just add stuff to software.

      Tbh if its anything its because xbox has esram. but realistically neither console is anything like the PC

    • LordCancer Kain

      wasssaaap bruh

    • Psionicinversion

      not seen you in while. you alright?

    • LordCancer Kain

      yes, i am good thank you. yourself?

    • Psionicinversion

      yeah im good. ive stopped the trolling and crap talking btw cus im sick of it. you just go round in circles and theres more to life! i still look at vg247 and sometimes post but in those special articles i go in look see all the mud slinging and leave. you back in vg247 under a different name?

    • LordCancer Kain

      no, i sometimes post on the facebook page as cer can, which is this account, i use facebook to log into disqus but they banned me so i am not going to pretend so i can be subject to their immoral and whimsical enforcement of whatever particular mood turd martin is in. besides like you said that community is a troll hole. though i did particularly enjoy going back and forth with you on occasion even if you were entirely drunk and wrong, plus that hundred dollar ship joke never got old haha ; ) man i can’t wait for e3 this year, you playing anything these days? i just got the valkyrie chronicles remaster.

    • Psionicinversion

      hahaha yeah the star citizen stuff used to really wind me up hahaha its my special baby cus its really the only game im looking forward to. of course there others like mass effect andromeda and BF1 and of course GTA6 and cyberpunk 2077 but there like whispers in the wind compared to how long ill be playing that for.

      Im playing The Division but less now cus theres not much do till possibly next week and of course DOOM bloody ace game. then theres Blood and wine on the 31st so yah.

      Matt Martin, you should of seen the Vive article he did, its like the Vive killed his child and was asking for death row or something. full of hate.

      you should give star citizen a try when its released, not now way to early and of course squadron 42. I feel SQ42 is going be pretty damn good

    • LordCancer Kain

      all they gotta do is make a really good story campaign and i will buy it and i am glad they split it up because i hate paying for multiplayer games. i have so little interest in multiplayer anymore, online is dead, no one talks and bf4 just ended up being an exercise in frustration.

      i call the squad score frustration points, i earned all 1.9 million playing with no micers getting the points and leveling my perks up just by selecting the objective they are nearest. it gets old. i went from playing bf3 over 1100 hours to just 360 in bf4 and then i see them talking about limiting lone wolfs more in bf1 and im like are you even serious right now? i am going to go from 360 hours down to the beta with bf1, i don’t believe they are capable of making fun games. with all the complexity they are adding to bf1 i just don’t see how they will make the game fun. they have all but said they will penalize me because no one is on mic. at this point if they don’t force people out of party chats and into game chat at least for ranked modes i will not buy it. two years later people still don’t know how to play bf4, the quad xp event was not worth playing with people who clearly have no capacity to learn or work together.

      i had mixed feelings for doom after being really excited for the game i played the beta and changed my mind. you say its good are your referring to the multiplayer or single player? because i think i wanted something else as far as multiplayer goes. i haven’t read any reviews but i heard the developer couldn’t even beat their game on the hardest difficulty so i just figured it is a game i will never trophy. my next game will probably be the odin sphere remaster and at some point i want to get xcom 2 but i will buy xcom 2 as cheap as possible like under $5 for there stupid decision to make it pc only.

    • Psionicinversion

      with Squadron 42 it will be if you like the wing commanders then youll like this but dont go expecting any Uncharted level of story or some award winning novel type thing but its the gameplay im after. Tbh i think there selling it really cheap. $45 for a 20 hour AAA quality (detail level) full motion captured game with gillian anderson, mark hamill, mark strong, gary oldman etc plus $15 for a basically a full fledged Persistent Universe, its not a tacked on multiplayer its a full on universe you could spend literally years playing thats what im after.

      Im always a lone wolf as you call it in online games like battlefield because i just cant be bothered stick with any one most of the time. I used to love playing operation locker all the time so its such closed in map it didnt really matter what team you were on you just always grouped together at the choke points anyway.

      With doom i didnt like the multiplayer much but the campaign is good, it is classic doom you just blow the crap out of everything till its dead constantly moving around, jumping, just dodging and weaving. The developers of any game rarely beat there own game on the the hardest level because there busy making it. They aint got time to get good at it and when they do have down time they will probably play something else to get away from it for a while thats why its down to us guys to beat the hardest modes. theres 3 difficulty levels you can have until you beat the game and unlock more and the middle one is enough for me, it can get a bit hectic but its a good hectic.

      I read they made Xcom 2 pc only because having Xcom 1 on console they had to make compromises to the controls on pc and it felt clunky or something. its not my type of game so never played it but yeah.

      I really hope Roberts promotes SQ42 at the PC gamer show at E3 and not Star citizen because SQ42 is releasing first and SC atm just isnt good enough for them to keep giving out free fly weekends. They got a fair amount of network optimisation to do theyve got to redo the physics system to send as little data as possible and all this other stuff and the server tick rate is really low so all there doing is damaging the image. It does look good but if someone who has never seen it before logs on and says damn my fps is rubbish and its lagging theyll quit it and uninstall. There focusing on the wrong stuff imo.

    • LordCancer Kain

      i will have to look into doom, i did really enjoy doom 3 single player.

      xcom 2 pc exclusive was because consoles sales were lackluster i do not believe that bs about their vision was only possible on pc. if the game sold better on consoles they would have made it for consoles. i bought enemy within on xbox and playstation and the bureau on playstation, so hopefully they bring it to playstation at some point. i would like to get xcom 2 trophies but whateves.

      i will definately be getting rare’s sea of thieves and re-core on pc.

    • Psionicinversion

      yeah your probably right about xcom. Sea of thieves looks amazing im defo playing that.

      That Cliff Blezinski is funny. With lawbreakers im making a PC only game…. then sells out to sony as soon as he could hahahah hes full of crap. He probably projected PC wouldnt cover his costs cus hes a fool and we dont care about him or his stupid game

    • LordCancer Kain

      i do not particularly like cliff and gears of war is a big part of why, i have no interest in his new game. zero.

      but some games deserve to sell better than they do, the witcher series tapped out the same 3 million pc users with each game give or take and then exploded on playstation. i firmly believe while there may be some crossover these are two fundamentally different markets with different users and they just buy different games. i am glad to see cd project and the witcher 3 finally breakout. they didn’t even have to complain about piracy this time.

  • So … Where is the linux version now ?


 

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