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Steam, XBLA, PSN key to indie success - Murray

By Dan Pearson

Tue 26 Jul 2011 6:45am GMT / 2:45am EDT / 11:45pm PDT

"Without the support of at least one of those outlets, the chances of success are reduced from tiny to almost non-existent"

Hello Games CEO Sean Murray has spoken of the importance of services like PSN, Steam and XBLA to the success of indie development - arguing that they represent a near-vital part of the publication process.

Speaking to after his presentation at Develop earlier this month, Murray touched on a number of topics surrounding the UK development industry. One of the key issues, he believes, is the continuing support of those services which allow developers to get games in front of huge audiences at minimal cost, but also their ability to promote a game once released.

"I think without the support of at least one of those outlets, the chances of success are reduced from tiny to almost non-existent," Murry said when asked about the role of XBLA, Steam and PSN.

If you talk to indie developers, they might say, 'we've been turned down by Steam, or XBLA or PSN'. It's often a real finishing blow for any studio

Sean Murray, Hello Games

"I think that if you talked to other indie developers, they might say, 'we've been turned down by Steam, or XBLA or PSN'. It's a really common thing to hear, but it's also often a real finishing blow for any studio.

"Often people are 100 per cent relying on it. Not just their approval process, but with someone like Apple you are 100 per cent reliant on them promoting your game. Without that, the service is nothing. It's the same for Steam, it's the same for XBLA, PSN - being on their services is only worth the amount of promotion that you're going to be blessed with.

"I think they are also in complete control of that scene, in complete control of the output of indie developers. It's kind of a scary place, but I think we're certainly lucky to have them. If you look at the last generation, you couldn't make a PS2 game unless you were with a publisher and had a pretty sizeable team. There were no other options."

Murray's comments also reflect those of fellow Develop speaker, ngmoco co-founder Alan Yu. He made clear in a panel discussion the importance of highlighting the distinction between self-publishing and self-distribution.

"You can self distribute, but everyone else can too, right," Yu told "That's like saying that if you get the key to Walmart then you can get in and put your product on the shelf with everyone else.

"Whether or not you work with a publisher or you do it yourself, I think you have to have competence in differentiating your product, knowing your audience, learning how to speak to them and getting the word out - whether that's a publisher or you doing it yourself. Self distribution doesn't mean self-publishing - they're two different things."

For the full interview with Sean, head over to the features section.

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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

962 187 0.2
Steam certainly, XBLA? :P

Posted:5 years ago


Matthew Green Producer, Solar Studios Inc

36 0 0.0
total bullshit this is the stupidest article of the year to date.

Posted:5 years ago


Matthew Green Producer, Solar Studios Inc

36 0 0.0
murray would have said the same thing about dreamcast if he just signed a deal to be on dreamcast or the apple2 or the nokie engage

Platforms will allways be replaced. Its the games that migrate throguh time and platforms that last. what a load of crap.

Posted:5 years ago


Martyn Brown Managing Director, Insight For Hire

150 68 0.5
All of it boils down to promotion, generally by the platform driver (Apple, microsoft, Sony, Valve). You need to be on the front page, its how it is.

Posted:5 years ago

I agree with Murray. If you are not in the mobile space (iOs or Android) you need to be at least on one of these platforms or you will not be financially successful. It is hard even if you are on these platforms. Without it I think it is impossible to reach enough customers. I know we all can list a few who made a website and sold a lot, but they are the exceptions to the rule. The reality is that even now lots of indie developers go down unnoticed, because they could not put their game on any of these platforms.

Posted:5 years ago


Bruno Jordaan Lead Game Design, Ranj Serious Games

3 0 0.0
@ Matthew:
Funny how you call this "bullshit and "a load of crap" yet you stem from an Indie company that styles itself "a leading interactive entertainment corporation (..) [which] focuses on development, publishing, and distribution of cutting-edge entertainment software." I suppose you are an expert on "a load of crap"?

Nice website by the way, very slick.

Posted:5 years ago


Bruce Nesbit Programmer

7 0 0.0
Dont both PSN and XBLA require concept approval from Sony/Microsoft ?

Posted:5 years ago


Matthew Green Producer, Solar Studios Inc

36 0 0.0
@bruno My point is platforms come and go they allways have. Buy my game sketchbrawlers coming out soon NOT ON STEAM XBLA OR PSN!!!!!!!!
Funny murray leaves out nintendo with the one of the top installed base of all time

Sketchbrawlers coming on PC ATOM and Windows mobile, WiiU Maybe as well if the market for wiiU does well.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Matthew Green on 26th July 2011 4:57pm

Posted:5 years ago


Steve Fowler VP Strategy, Ayzenberg Group

8 3 0.4
There are a few issue that were left out of this article. In the digital distribution era not only do you need to "distribute" with top quality populated distributors (just as in the retail world you need to be in Best Buy and Wal Mart in the U.S.) you also need to market to your consumers. Leaving this up to chance and hoping Steam, Microsoft, Apple or Sony will do this for you is ridiculous. You need to control your own awareness generation and purchase intent. Just hoping Apple will select your game for app of the week or relying on Steam to put you in one of their bundles is far too risky. You need to spend a % of projected revenue on marketing your game. If you don't know how to do this or have not budgeted for this you are at the mercy of someone elses agenda.

Posted:5 years ago


Bruno Jordaan Lead Game Design, Ranj Serious Games

3 0 0.0
My point is you're calling something "bullshit" and "a load of crap", which are very strong words. To me it's apparent he just has a different definition of 'success' than you. He isn't saying it is impossible to develop/distribute a game outside of Steam/XBLA/PSN, merely commenting that financial success and stability is nigh impossible to achieve without the backing of one of these three platform holders. Even if your game is hugely successful financially without the backing of Steam, XBLA, or PSN, you would still be the exception to the rule. The fact that platforms come and go is completely irrelevant as he is clearly speaking of how things currently are.

P.S. I won't discuss this further with you. Judging from your swearing, use of Capslock and exclamation marks, you aren't what I would call 'good sport'.

Posted:5 years ago


Mel Kirk VP Marketing / Public Relations, Zen Studios

1 0 0.0
In our experience it has come down to relationships with the first parties - clear communication on what they want to see in order to take advantage of their marketing programs. It does not have to be a 'hit and miss' issue, there is a process that ZEN Studios goes through with every release to ensure 1) First Party support 2) Consumer Awareness 3) Max buzz leading into launch 4) SALES

Case Study: We really implemented our approach with the release of Pinball FX2, which has barely left the weekly top 10 on XBLA since it's launch back in October 2010 - the formula works. We continue to evolve our strategy with the changing marketplace, let me be clear, what worked six months ago does not work today!

Posted:5 years ago


Matthew Green Producer, Solar Studios Inc

36 0 0.0
appologies to anyone offended by my grammer, caps, or word choice. In America you are allowed to speak your mind and use improper grammer at will.

Posted:5 years ago


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