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Publisher Burns A Bridge By Throwing Sony Under The Bus

It doesn't always take a lot of people to make a great video game, but it does take some amount of community and company support to be successful. Today, one developer felt angry enough to share some industry secrets, throwing Sony under the bus in the process.

Iain Garner from Neon Doctrine, an indie games publisher responsible for titles like "Project Altheia" and "Legrand Legacy," stated he was ready to burn bridges in order to discuss the hardships indie developers face. He justified his decision to speak out, saying, "[W]hat's the point of a bridge I'm not allowed to cross?" Garner explained that he wouldn't name the company he had a grudge against, although he did offer, "I will not be defining Platform X but it's the operator of a very successful console and does not have Games Pass." 

Garner made many claims about "Platform X," which most readers assumed to be Sony. He said that the platform "gives developers no ability to manage their games. In order to get promotion you must jump through hoops, beg and plead for any level of promotion." Garner revealed that developers have no way to change the rules or question how games are evaluated or ranked. No matter the level of personal marketing a publisher puts into its game, the platform itself must independently evaluate the game and decide whether to advertise it.

Paying for promotion

While detailing the process that independent developers must go through, Garner said that some parts of it were particularly opaque. For some steps, "you need to go through an account manager, when asked how to get an account manager, we were told 'I'm not sure, they are assigned by resources.'" Developers can't even promote games via a discount, as approval for discounts is "very limited."

Perhaps most surprisingly, Garner explained that publishers can get guaranteed features by paying $25,000, on top of the 30% commission the company already takes from sales. At the end of the thread, Garner urged readers to remember that he is "an English speaking British guy who can travel the world, attend showcases, shake hands and meet with power in these situations." In other words, indie developers with fewer resources, or who are marginalized, might not have the sway Garner does within the industry.

Kotaku explained that all of Garner's figures matched with Sony's policies regarding PlayStation's storefront, independently verifying that Garner was, indeed, talking about Sony throughout his rant. The relationship between independent game developers and powerful gaming companies remains tense. For example, Activision recently chose to sue an indie publisher under shady pretenses, and Sony itself desperately wants gamers to forget a few things about the PlayStation. Garner concluded the thread by asking players who felt disgruntled about the situation to complain directly to "Platform X," letting it know that treating indie publishers fairly should be a priority.