Sony’s love affair with indie games seems to ebb and flow. The platform holder got behind independent titles in a big way with the PlayStation 4’s launch, but the support doesn’t always last very long or returns only when it’s convenient to PlayStation. While the publishing policies of the three console manufacturers are usually a closely guarded secret — which tend to only come out during a court case — sometimes someone will just kind of go on a rant about them in public and we get better insight on how these things work.
In this case, we get an explainer on indie publishing from Iain Garner, co-founder of Neon Doctrine. Garner’s publishing label has put out a fair number of titles so far, most notably the pixel-art horror game Yuppie Psycho and has experience publishing on all three consoles and PC. While Garner did not outright state which platform holder he was venting about, the initial and subsequent tweets on the subject indicate it is a console that is neither Microsoft- nor Nintendo-lead.
“I am mad enough to burn some bridges. Because honestly, what’s the point of a bridge that I am not allowed to cross,” Garner starts the tweet thread with.
He goes on to describe a number of barriers and blockages to properly marketing a game from what is presumably PlayStation. Garner’s claim is that Sony performs an initial evaluation of a game and that determines how much promotion they will give it. These evaluations are largely clandestine and the process of how it works is never made clear to the publisher.
He then presents a laundry list of other grievances, including being limited on providing launch-sales or any sales that they have not been explicitly invited to participate in, account managers that either disappear or just never materialize in the first place, and that a $25,000 minimum is required to guarantee promotion.
In a Kotaku report on the subject, the outlet says this number can go as high as $200,000.
To be clear, Garner never outright defines this as PlayStation. He could, for all we know, be talking about the currently-embattled Intellivision Amico. Who can say, really? But if it is PlayStation, it kind of sounds like a sour process, all things considered.