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Indies criticize Sony over discount policies, poor communication, more

Twitter thread from Neon Doctrine co-founder Iain Garner has complaints echoed and verified by numerous peers

This morning, Neon Doctrine co-founder Iain Garner posted a Twitter thread about Platform X, which he did not name but identified as "the operator of a very successful console and does not have Game Pass!"

In the thread, Garner criticized not just the lack of promotion it gave indie developers and publishers for their titles, but the choices it made that minimize their ability to move the needle on their own.

"Wishlists have no effect, so all your personal marketing means nothing to Platform X," Garner said. "All that matters is their evaluation. How is this evaluation done? Dunno, they don't share that, nor will they share the value they ascribe to my game."

Garner also criticized a lack of clarity on how a company is supposed to get an account manager (a prerequisite for submitting trailers and blog posts for promotion on the platform), an inability to control launch discounts, an invite-only policy to participate in sales, and a $25,000 minimum spend to have a game featured on the storefront.

"In conclusion, Platform X is super successful and awesome hardware but their backend and process [is] straight out of the early '00s," Garner said. "I have no idea how to succeed on this platform and they won't tell me. Even if I do succeed, they may screw me anyway..."

If there was any doubt that Sony was the platform in question, it was squashed by the numerous responses from independent developers and publishers echoing Garner's frustrations.

Whitethorn Games CEO Matthew White posted a "totally hypothetical definitely not real revenue breakdown" pie chart in a tweet thread noting that "less than 3% of sales as a company are on [Platform X]," which was labelled in the chart as "Nolan North," the voice actor behind Uncharted protagonist Nathan Drake.

White went on to say email communications with the platform are returned in months rather than days or weeks, the process of obtaining sales reports is unnecessarily time consuming and outdated, and it has no marketing, analytics, or advertising assessment tools for developers.

"[Platform X] is our worst performing platform, worse than other well-known plumber or super-soldier related video game systems, and also worse than DRM-free sales platforms like Itch, etc.," White said. "Last month we made more on Google Admob."

Ragnar Tørnquist of RedThread Games retweeted Garner's original post, saying, "This thread mirrors our experiences exactly. Draugen has been out for over a year on consoles. When was the last time it was discounted or featured in a sale? And it's definitely not for a lack of trying. It's disheartening.

"We're a pretty established developer with a proven track record, but I honestly have no idea who to even contact to make console sales happen. It's like trying to be heard in the vacuum of space."

Hypnospace Outlaw developer Jay Tholen went ahead and named names, saying, "Yeah PlayStation sucks for indie devs. We've sold like trash on there compared [to] the other big consoles. Also we make more sales on Itch alone than we do on [PlayStation] I'm pretty sure."

Tholen ended his tweet by saying, "Mike, I'll delete this if you want lol," presumably directed at Mike Rose, founder of HypnoSpace Outlaw publisher No More Robots.

Rose had already weighed in on Garner's thread more obliquely a little earlier, saying, "There's a thread going round today that lots of people are sharing. The reason you don't see more threads like it, is because devs are too worried to say it publicly. But trust me when I say that the vast majority of devs are reading that thread, and nodding their heads violently."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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