They should ‘stop presenting themselves as indie-friendly’
Skander Djerbi from i-Friqiya studios has spoken his heart about the level of support that indie game developers receive from publishers, in a yet to be published interview with us.
We asked Skander about what he thinks about Xbox One’s closed system of game selection process compared to the open environment that Sony is adopting for the PS4, to which he replied in great detail.
“I think that as long as you comply with their technical constraints they should allow you to sell your game on their platform. That’s more or less the case on PlayStation, that’s how the App store works, that’s how the Android market works. But once again that’s their policy, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Maybe they want to avoid alienating the big retail publishers? I respect that but if so they should say it and stop presenting themselves as indie-friendly.”
“One the other hand the main question is not whether the platform accepts (such as the PSN) or not (Xbox live arcade) to host indie projects. The main question is “what kind of visibility are indie games given on the digital channels?” And to be honest with you I’m extremely pessimistic when I look at what happened these past years.”
He also talks about how indie games now need to compete not only with the 10th map of Call of Duty DLC but also with the likes of Justin Bieber.
“When we started the Fuel Overdose project, our objective was to compete with what you could find on the digital channels at that time: indie projects more or less supported by the console manufacturers, HD remakes of the 80’s and 90’s and small games. Then we saw the digital editions of the AAA games coming. Then the big publishers started to release their digital editions the same day as the retails ones. They also stared to fill the digital shelves with the remakes of their games that were originally released less than 4-5 years before, and also their remakes of their remakes, their online passes, DLCs… On the other hand the console manufacturers stared to diversify their offer. So now, not only do I have to compete against the 10th multiplayer map of the latest COD, but also against Justin Bieber and Rihanna.”
He also talks about the level of visibility that a small indie game receives and how the media only covers big budget productions from publishers.
“It’s crucial for us indies to get visibility on these stores because we don’t exist anywhere else but there. We cannot afford to pay for marketing campaigns and if we fail, we don’t get a second chance. If you’re an indie developer trying to bring your game on console, I’d tell you to think twice, because it’ll be nearly impossible to make your game visible by the gamers. And if you count on media to talk about you, you’ll be disappointed. Truth is that most of the media only talk the productions that come from the big publishers. They say that they love the indie scene, always referring to the same games, but they don’t bother covering your news preferring to talk about the latest Just Dance DLC or about some famous game designer that tweeted about his girlfriend.”
He finally suggests that if you plan to become an indie developer, the road to success will be extremely hard.
“Of course you have games like Hotline Miami and this game will probably benefit from a nice marketing campaign when it releases on console, but the guys that were behind this project were smart enough to generate a buzz outside the console ecosystem. To conclude, I’d say that if you want to succeed as indie developer, you have to keep in mind that you’re all alone from the beginning to the end and that if you manage to bring your game to a popular platform (I’m also including the PC platforms), the harder it becomes and that the golden age of indie gaming of digital download is over.”
Do you agree with Skander’s opinion? Let us know in the comments section below.