Why Indie Games Are Ruining PS Plus
Every month in Play Magazine, we take a hot topic and look at the arguments for and against. PlayStation’s love of indie games and their prevalence in PS Plus is the subject of debate this time, with Play’s Drew Sleep arguing the case against. Next week we’ll have the retort from Play’s indie defence force, Paul Walker-Emig.
Indie games are grossly overrated. There, I said it. For some reason we, as a community, have elevated the likes of Jonathan Blow (Braid), Mike Bithell (Thomas Was Alone) and Phil Fish (Fez) to untouchable geniuses but, really, they’re just okay. Vanilla. Braid is by no means a 9/10 masterpiece; it’s a short platformer with a gimmick that overstays its welcome. Thomas Was Alone is not a marvellous creation; it’s a game where you bounce various quadrilaterals around for a few hours before it vanishes from your memory. Fez, while deserving a lot of its praise, still frustratingly forced you to backtrack. By no means am I saying that these games are bad. I’m saying they’re mediocre. Satisfactory.
I feel like now is a good time to throw up a pre-emptive disclamer: I do like indie games. Heck, indie games alone are keeping my beloved Vita alive, and, as a backer for Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night, I love that indie gaming is keeping Koji Igarashi in a job. It’s also great that Sony is lending a helping hand for indie devs – without that support I wouldn’t have been able to ruin my parents’ Christmas by playing Outlast or The Binding Of Isaac on the family TV. I just have my concerns. You see, dear reader, for every great turdy dungeon-crawler starring naked babies is a tonne of Whoa Daves; for every stunning perspective-altering platformer, there is an unstoppable army of Aaru’s Awakenings.
“But Drew,” I hear you cry, “magazines and publications like Play are supposed to find the good indies for us.” And you’re right. We have our very own indie hipster at your service to do just that (hi Paul). The trouble is, though, this influx of poor indies is already hitting you where it hurts: in the IGC, specifically the PS4 IGC. The vast majority of PS4 IGC games since its release have been indie games. That alone is kind of taking the piss, but I’d let it slide if the games were actually good. Alas they are not – a large amount of these games aren’t up to scratch. Contrast? No thanks. Mercenary Kings? Nah, you’re alright, mate. Tower Of Guns? NO. What did you expect, though? Why should Sony go out of its way to secure something substantial for the PS4 at a greater cost in terms of effort and, potentially, money when they have indie developers who are begging for their game to get some exposure?
Again, Sony supporting indies is a good thing, but jamming subpar games on a service that is supposed to offer users a collection of great games is nothing short of unacceptable. It is true the indie games that Sony has had more of a hand in, such as the astoundingly brilliant The Unfinished Swan, are a significantly better experience, and I would enjoy to see this trend continue. But who knows if upcoming Sony-steered indie games like Drawn To Death are going to hit that standard? I’m not sold, not yet, at least.
Indie gaming suffers from the same issues as it’s triple-A sister industry. There are droves of clones and genres have been oversaturated – I’m looking at you, retro side-scrollers. The only difference is that indie gaming is unpredictable. You know that an Assassin’s Creed game is likely to be a mess at launch, but if a game called Super Exploding Zoo drops on your lap, who knows if it’s going to be a blockbuster or an utter fart? If we were to stop this storm of good and bad games, though, we’d be killing the creativity that indies are known for. It looks like we’re stuck with this shit, so we may as well get used to it.