Grip Games talks PS4, Vita and highs and lows of the indie scene
- Posted October 20th, 2013 at 06:00 EDT by Steven Williamson
(continued from previous page) ...this critical mass in the audience now. A lot of people are interested in independent games and are buying them and the platform holders understand that. As long as we are able to put our games into major retail channels, indies will be around. AAA is becoming more and more risk-averse and that’s where indies come in and introduce new ideas, even invent new genres.
PSU: There are very few incredibly successful indies and we’ve seen many companies come and go in a turbulent decade for the industry. What do you need to do to ensure Grip Games is still making games in 10 years’ time? Would it be wrong to say that the goal of an independent studio is to be bought out by a bigger company?
I think that every indie developer starts with a certain idea of what they want to achieve. Somebody wants to make games and, if possible, make a decent living out of that. Somebody else is looking to show their talent to find a smart publisher who will take them under their wings, while keeping their development freedom. Some achieve their goals and some don’t and call it quits.
To remain successful and relevant, we need to stay interesting. We need to come with interesting and entertaining games, while keeping our feet on the ground and realize the realities of the industry. Daydreaming is probably the biggest indie-killer.
PSU: PSU has always championed smaller studios and reviewed their games, but we noticed there are very few reviews of Atomic Ninjas online yet it was released over a week ago. Why do you think that is and do you find it disheartening that more sites don't review indie titles?
As I already mentioned, getting attention of press, and through them the players, is incredibly difficult. It is about establishing relationships with every single journalist out there, every blogger, and every active forum member. You can’t just send out a press release and sit back & relax. It’s a constant struggle.
As for the reviews, they started appearing quite a lot in the past few days. I guess it is like a chain reaction. But that brings another set of problems. When reviewing an AAA game, the journalists never dare to do a sloppy job. But with an indie game struggling for its place under the sun, that’s not always the case. We have seen more than enough of reviews where the reviewer obviously didn’t even play the game for more than a few minutes, didn’t spend the time exploring, or simply didn’t care to understand it. So, the reviews are all over the place, from as low as 3/10 to high 8’s and 9’s.
PSU: The relationship between indie game creators and console makers has been strained in the past, but Sony looks to be addressing that with its indie-friendly attitude for PS3, PS4 Vita and PlayStation Mobile. What do you feel about the current PlayStation environment? Is PS4 the best choice for indie studios?
Releasing on PlayStation is still very rigid and bureaucratic process, when compared to AppStore. But Sony has come a long way since the minis days. Every environment comes with its own set of problems. I think that PC is still the best environment for indies, with a lot of players looking for something new. Mobile is a slaughterhouse and consoles are more about doing business than creating games, which is not a comfortable position for a lot of indies.
PSU: Having worked with PlayStation Vita, what are your thoughts on its future and why do you think it hasn’t really taken off in the Western world?
I will tell you a secret. Vita is doing fine. At least for us. The sales split between PS3 and PS Vita was around 50/50 with Foosball 2012 and we expect to sell much more copies of Atomic Ninjas on Vita than PS3. There are only a few millions of Vitas out there, but every single Vita owner is a games enthusiast who loves games and loves to spend money. It is probably not enough for AAA publishers, that’s why we don’t see that many major games for Vita out there. It all comes ... (continued on next page)