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Sony boss: “the Steven Spielbergs of our industry” are indies

Thursday, 11th July 2013 00:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

SCE America boss Jack Tretton believes the indie scene is responsible for the superstar creators of the games industry.

Speaking with CNN Money, Tretton said the flourishing indie scene of the past decade has saved the games industry from a mediocre future.

“Looking back, the fear was always that you’d have a few giant publishers making middle of the road games. But the opposite has happened,” he said.

“Thanks to independent developers and smaller studios, you have the Steven Spielbergs of our industry coming out of one- and two-man teams, out of university development projects, where somebody just has a really creative mind and they come out with a game that maybe doesn’t have $100 million, 300-person team polish but is absolute genius.”

It’s not hard to guess what Tretton means – games like Minecraft, Braid and Fez have made Markus “Notch” Persson, Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish well-recognised names, an honour usually reserved for people like Cliff Bleszinski and Ken Levine, who arguably have less creative control over and responsibility for the final product – a triple-A game.

Tretton said the rise of indie auteurs making games which fall outside the rather narrow range of games offered by traditional, publisher-owned development is good for everyone.

“That bodes extremely well. You’ve got creativity flourishing. It’s great for the medium and validates that this is mainstream entertainment,” he said.

“It guarantees there’s going to be something for everyone.”

During the same interview, Tretton said that the PlayStation 4 received a positive reaction because Sony did its homework.

It’s all Sony and indies, all the time this morning; we’ve had PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny predicting the new hardware will continue Sony’s indie-friendly trend, and Fireproof Games boss Barry Meade noting that Sony is well aware that it needs indies more than indies need it.

Thanks, GamesIndustry.

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28 Comments

  1. Lahanas

    Is anybody else sick of companies constantly sucking the dicks of the indies? Never before in the history of this business has a certain category of games been overestimated so much. There is absolutely no way that these niche, simplistic, cheap games can be at the forefront of the industry.

    AAA blockbusters >>>>> indie games

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Sylrissa

    Nope, not sick of it, I still enjoy my fair share of AAA games.

    But I’m really glad to see Indie games doing so well, and I find myself playing indies on steam far more often then even my favorite AAA games.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Aullah

    @1 Indies dont have much money, so they have to be creative. AAA games are not creative… its the same game over and over and over again.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Sylrissa

    @3 Occasionally a truly great AAA game comes along and amazes me, but it is few and far between.

    Indies is certainly where creativity thrives in the gaming industry.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Aullah

    @4 Once or twice a year.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. DSB

    I get really scared when people in charge of multi-billion dollar corporations sound like they actually know what they’re doing.

    It’s gonna take some action if they want to be as progressive as the movie industry though. Those indies need a way into the industry proper, and the industry proper badly needs their creativity.

    The only real solution is a long overdue farewell to the AAA-grind.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. xxJPRACERxx

    @1 Agree with you. It’s nice to have these indie games, but 95% of my playing time is not with indies.

    I don’t buy a $400-$500 console to play games that could run on an PS2.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Phoenixblight

    @7

    I have 3 games that are worth 20$ altogether and have over 200+ hours in game time. There are very few triple A games I can think of I have put that amount of time in(think Dragon Age Origins was the most recent)

    #8 1 year ago
  9. xxJPRACERxx

    @8 Ok… I’m glad you got 200+ hours of entertainment for $20…

    #9 1 year ago
  10. bpcgos

    I’m always remember Alfred(you know, from Nolan’s Batman) everytime I saw his photo. Weird!!

    #10 1 year ago
  11. The_Red

    @1 & @7
    Maybe %95 percent of your play time is outside indies but you aren’t the only gamers.

    There are also gamers that spend %95 percent of play time WITH indies only. I’d take Spelunky, Binding of Isaac, Hotline Miami or FTL over a billion AAA FarCrys, Halos, Battlefields and Marios.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. manamana

    This gaming world would be a brownishgrey tristesse without the color and spice of indie games!

    #12 1 year ago
  13. zersus

    Brenna, I don’t agree on “Cliff Bleszinski”. The rest was ok.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. The_Red

    @13
    I used to respect him… Then he began being a HUGE shill and corporate apologist, defending EVERY SINGLE anti-consumer move and saying “Without these, gaming will DIE!”.

    Right now, I’d say Bobby Kotick, Don Matrick or Peter Moore’s actually poop is worth more than anything coming out of Cliffy’s mouth.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Asgaro

    @Lahanas GTFO out, son. Calling indie games simplistic?
    Go play some more Assassin’s Creed with their lame combat system or any other AAA game that holds you by the hand.
    Every single AAA game nowadays gets dumbed down, it’s not hard to see.

    Edit:
    And “innovation” doesn’t mean automatically “niche”. For example, the survival-horror genre is huge on the indie PC scene, while publishers don’t dare to make true survival-horror games on consoles.
    Too much risk involved considering most console gamers want the easy road to achieving something. Games without an XP leveling system probably wouldn’t even sell anymore on consoles LOL.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. manamana

    @15 you haven’t played TLOU then?

    Edit @Asgaro would be nice, if you alter your text by another ton of text, to mark it ‘Edit’. That way, everyone knows that following comments are aimed at the ‘old’ text.

    Just saying.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Lengendaryboss

    @16
    Or seen shipped sales figures.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Asgaro

    @manamana Unfortunately I haven’t yet. I will when it drops in price.
    (got a PS3 Slim but I’m a Steam addict and I’m used to waiting a bit to get discounted games)

    But it’s not hard to see that lots of AAA games get dumbed down the further they go in the franchise: AC, Splinter Cell, Hitman, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Mass Effect…
    Most of the times I don’t feel the fulfillment I feel in indie games…

    Edit: @manamana Done :)

    #18 1 year ago
  19. manamana

    @18 I do agree that indie games have a certain appeal, which is hard to get from AAA titles. For me, indie games remind me of the fun I had back in the arcade days. It was all about fun and new stuff.

    Edit: :-D

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Asgaro

    @19 / manamana: Exactly, it feels refreshing!
    I like my fair share of AAA titles but I certainly also can’t live without indie games anymore. The Binding of Isaac, Bastion, Mark of the Ninja, Amnesia, Lone Survivor, To The Moon, Limbo, Braid… all fun and challenging games :)

    And I also feel that the standards of indie games get higher: in the past people wouldn’t mind a bit of a broken game, but nowadays the quality seems to get better and better.

    Glad to see Sony will invest heavily in it (and they already did with games like Flower, Journey, Rain). Lots of stuff that originates in the PC gaming scene (patching, dedicated servers, free2play games, game streaming, digital distribution) eventually finds it way on consoles too, so it’s good Indie Gaming will get full attention in next-gen!

    #20 1 year ago
  21. sh4dow

    Well I would certainly hope that indies don’t turn out to be Spielbergs. Would hate for them all to actually be commerce whores.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. ps3fanboy

    indies is where it happens, thats for sure… it is where they grow the new big aaa games, so indies is very important for future aaa games. its good to see that sony see this. while micro$haft are more interested in cashing in the quick bucks, than making new great games. it shows sony is in it for the long run and are here for the gamers, and not just a corporate rat like micro$hafts.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. jmg24bad

    If the cost of AAA games are going up? why dont they keep current gen graphics but add more to those games with the extra resources the machines have left over?

    Indie games have no problem doing that at all.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. DSB

    @23 Exactly. I think AAA is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The publishers say “People don’t want games that don’t cost millions and millions to make, so that’s all we make”

    But if it’s all they make, then there’s really no way to know if anything else would actually work.

    I think that’s the games industry right now. Complete failure of leadership. Instead of showing people new ways to enjoy games, they’re trying to squeeze the juice from the exact same group of customers, using the exact same kind of product, and expecting that to be a sound investment in the future.

    I think it’s sad to look at games from just 10-15 years ago and see the kind of ambition they showed. They might fail in adding a cool feature or mechanic, and they might get the design wrong, but at least they tried.

    It just seemed closer to a creative industry, rather than just another packaged goods business.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. bradk825

    Lately indie games have been getting overestimated a lot, but this is WAY over the top.

    Spielberg directed Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, ET, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List. Many of the most iconic movies of all time are his work and there is arguably no director more well-known. There are some great directors out there who nobody knows or cares who the fuck they are even though they’ve seen dozens for their movies.

    Comparing indie game developers to Spielberg is like comparing your house cat to a saber-toothed tiger. Sure, house cats are great, but it’s not a fair comparison, one would eat the other and still be hungry.

    One of my favourite aspects of gaming is story-telling. Spielberg is beginning to get involved and I hope he gets involved in game design. It’s not lost on me that Sony is saying this because MS got Spielberg and they didn’t, and they are trying to say “We have our own Spielberg, it’s indie gamers.” But they have the housecat here kids, not the tiger.

    Minecraft didn’t get popular for it’s creativity or storytelling. Minecraft is popular for the creativity PLAYERS can offer the world. I love Minecraft, I’m not putting it down, but it’s certainly not going to be on the level of Destiny in terns of story-telling and combat.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. Phoenixblight

    @23

    Thats because people want more eye candy. Its the same reason why we went from arcade systems to consoles.

    @25

    Spielberg is only an executive producer to a show of MS IP which SPielberg has horrible movies and TV shows as an executive producer and director because its a name only. Transformers anyone?

    #26 1 year ago
  27. TheWulf

    @1

    Quote: “Never before in the history of this business has a certain category of games been overestimated so much.

    That’s… wow. That’s because it’s not a category, now is it? It’s a design ethos. It’s a creed. There are two creeds within videogame development. One has development lead around on a lead by shareholders, and the lead is tugged if they ever go too far away from the money. Thus the game is made more familiar, the story is made less intelligent, the character more “badass,” the gameplay more violent, et cetera. And then you have the alternative.

    The alternative is to sidestep shareholders all together — and this takes a lot of balls and passion. This is about making the game that you want to make, either funding it out of your own pocket, or going via the crowdfunding route. This is going to be a game straight out of the heads of the developers, with no one to tell them no.

    What happens with the latter is that the stories tend to be more intelligent, engaging, and individual. And you don’t have IPs built up where every game is This IV or that III. Indie (which means independent) development is about making risky, wonderfully characterful games that would have shareholders soil their pants.

    And this then drives the industry. What happened with Kickstarter? You had a number of indie oldschool RPGs funded. And what happened next? Publishers who — only a year before — had completely dismissed oldschool RPGs are now knocking down the doors of indie developers trying to get deals.

    Indie development drives the fashion of this industry. It’s the style, it’s the vogue, it’s what pulls the industry forward. Mainstream gaming just tends to be a gauche repeat of everything we’d seen before, overly safe, overly familiar, with those “badass nice guys you know and love, because you’ve seen them hundreds of times before.

    So, no. Independent development is not a “category.” Good grief. Read up on what a category actually is. It’s an ethos. A creed.

    Quote: “There is absolutely no way that these niche, simplistic, cheap games can be at the forefront of the industry.

    Niche: Anything outside of the commonality is a niche. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. That’s like saying that michelin star restaurant food is bad because it’s niche. That’s not a bright thing to say.

    Simplistic: What’s simplistic about an oldschool game like Shadowrun? You’re mixing up the design ethos of indie, with the category of coffee-break games. Please don’t do that.

    Cheap: Because money leads to quantifiably better experiences than creativity, right? Then by your logic, Spider-Man 3, which cost $258m to make, is the best movie ever made. Your… logic is flawed.

    And that’s that.

    @5

    Here are twenty-five good ones released in 2012 just from a glance at Google, and there have been many more.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. DSB

    @25 Spielberg is not the best fit for the analogy, but if he instead used guys like Martin Scorcese, Terrence Malick or Sam Raimi, he would be spot on.

    The games industry just has a long way to go before they can make any claim to recognizing, honoring and promoting talent in the same way though.

    They’re several eras behind Hollywood, it’s still a very rigid “studio system”. We need a guy like Charlie Chaplin to come along and move things forward. Guys like Jason Rubin have been trying for years with little to show for it.

    #28 1 year ago

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