Sony have announced their next generation gaming platform the PS4 which could be in the shops by Christmas. According to the press, the new hardware will be based on an x86 AMD chipset and is described as a “Supercharged PC”.
This is quite an interesting prospect for those of us who have dabbled in the Indie game scene on platforms such as Xbox Live Indie Games, iOS and Android. When Microsoft opened up the XBox to indie developers they managed, to a degree, to recreate some of the feel of those old 8 bit game developer days back in the 80’s before the advent of proprietary consoles. Many of these grew into the household name game developer brands today. Microsoft have managed to create an industry with an incredibly low cost of entry as, once the initial AppHub membership fee is paid, the development and publishing tools are provided for free. Thousands of titles are available for download to XBox users for as little as $1 a time and many of them are pretty good too.
There is of course another problem. Consoles are now competing against mobile devices which are getting powerful enough now to run some pretty sophisticated games. These are all on open platforms and again have a very low cost of entry to new game developers.
This is all a far cry from the expensive, tightly controlled, development consoles completely out of reach to those of us outside the mainstream development community and from what I’ve heard, the PS3 architecture was a nightmare to work with even when you had the kit.
So my plea to Sony would be this: open up your console to Indie game development, create a marketplace that competes with XBLIG. The benefits of this could be huge. It starts with the sale of additional consoles (currently if we want to write a console game it has to be an XBox). It continues with the generation of revenue from an online marketplace. It results in the creation a whole new generation of game development talent who will go on to build the games that ensure the future of the console business.