PS4 In 2014: To Unity, And Beyond (Interview With SCEA Dev Relations)
Heading into 2014 I wanted to get a better feel of what PlayStation had in the pipeline as far as independent development goes. Naturally I reached out to developer relations at SCEA with my hand raised and a ton of questions in my brain. After the Holiday madness subsided, I received the email I’d been waiting for; Adam Boyes and his team at developer relations had chewed up my inquiries and elegantly spit them out. SCEA developer relations manager, Brian Silva donated his time to answering my inquiries.
One of the biggest revelations we’ll see for independent developers in 2014 is the roll out of Unity on the PS4. The popular development engine has just gone live on PS Vita, opening that platform to a new group of hungry developers. The full integration on the PS4 may change the landscape of console gaming forever. I was eager to know when the hotly anticipated Unity Beta would begin on PS4, when a full launch was expected, and what would likely be some of the first games on PS4 utilizing Unity.
While I can’t really comment on the timing of the Unity beta, we’re really excited about Unity support to rollout on PS4. It’s still too early to tell what will be the first game shipped on Unity , but Galak-Z: The Dimensional from 17-Bit, Ray’s the Dead from Ragtag Studio, Assault Android Cactus from Witch Beam and Pavilion from Visiontrick are all Unity games that we have announced as coming to PS4. Unity would be able to give you the exact information on the full rollout.
Having seen the entirety of that list of games in action, and even playing some, I have to say that Unity will be contributing great games to PS4 right out of the gate. Back at VGX we saw Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky for the first time, and other high-profile indies like Kingdom Come: Deliverance have since popped up. I was curious if SCEA was actively approaching developers like Hello Games and Warhorse Studios to become a part of the PlayStation platform,
We are reaching out to new developers daily to come to PlayStation. There are always new and exciting games being announced and released, so we are never at a loss for new teams to speak with.
Most folks have a list of games they’re interested in, some even have a ‘most anticipated’ title that’s on the horizon. I asked Silva what upcoming game he was head over heels for,
That would be like saying which of your children you love the most. A few others you don’t mention I am looking forward to personally are Luftrausers (PS3 and PS Vita) and Nuclear Throne (PS 4 and PS Vita) from Vlambeer, Towerfall: Ascension (PS4) from Matt Makes Games and Metrico (PS Vita) from Digital Dreams.
After Brian’s strong parental defenses wore off, we moved forward. PlayStation has gone the extra mile to showcase the importance of independent games on their platforms. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large selection of indie games being presented on-stage at a handful of prominent public media briefings. I felt the need to inquire as to Brian’s impression of what indie games bring to the table.
I think that Indie games offer a sense of freedom to explore themes, art, and gameplay that are not found in most games on the market. The games often help expand the definition of a game and genres with elements being adopted back into larger scale games.
It’s apparent that indies are important to the PlayStation ecosystem. I often see them featured on the PS Blog and the PlayStation Store. If you’re an indie dev, or know much about the scene, you’ll know that continued exposure is one of the hardest things to come by. Both Sony and Microsoft have briefly spoken about how they plan to curate indie content to increase coverage, but I wanted a better understanding of Sony’s plans.
It has been our goal to provide a lot of options to our developer partners, which we’ve demonstrated with our flexible self-publishing, our incubation program and PubFund, to name a few. We created an Indie category within the PlayStation Store that showcases our indie content, but that content also exists among all the other content in our storefront in other categories—it’s not segregated from the main Store. We offer full integration in various Store promotions and sales throughout the year along with other co-marketing opportunities, so our indie lineup is well represented throughout PS channels. We even offer PR support, and, as you’ve seen, have had our developers and titles shown on stage at various high-profile industry events—PS4 announcement, E3, dedicated events for indies during GDC and Gamescom. We feature indies daily on PS Blog. The bottom line is that we do a lot to highlight our content and show off the strength of our indie portfolio, just like we do for our AAA games coming from major publishers.
After seeing Silva’s comments a few things are readily apparent. He loves his job. PlayStation hearts indies, and the indie scene as a whole is exploding. We’ll have more insights from developer relations very soon. You can also check out our teaser articles that led up to this piece. They centered around PlayStation’s GDC 2014 plans and the driving force behind SCEA’s developer relations.
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