Why You’re Wrong To Criticise Indie Games On PS4
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. Last week, Drew Sleep argued the case against. Now here’s the defence from Play’s indie defence force, Paul Walker-Emig.
I love indie games. For that reason, I’ve been delighted with the open approach that Sony has taken with indie developers and the efforts it has made to get their games onto PlayStation platforms. We’ve had some bloody awesome ones, too: the artful and atmospheric Journey; the intense and rewarding Hotline Miami; Telltale’s gripping The Walking Dead series; smart puzzler The Swapper; the experimental The Unfinished Swan; the colorful Guacamelee. There’s such a diverse range of indie games to choose from – far more diverse than what you tend to get from triple-A studios, incidentally – covering such a vast array of genres and hitting such a high benchmark of quality, that I can’t fathom why indie games get so much hate.
Take Hotline Miami as an example. It’s easily one of, if not the best action game released in years. Not the best indie action game, the best action game full stop. What I’m getting at is that it’s hard not to think that those who bemoan the volume of indie games on PlayStation just aren’t giving them a chance, because so many of them match up to anything triple-A has to offer when it comes to quality, creativity and aesthetics.
Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that all indie games are worse than triple-A games, the criticism of PlayStation and its large roster of indies still doesn’t make any sense. Take one of the most common complaints you hear: that people are fed up of seeing indie games come to PS4 when what they actually want are more triple-A games. It’s fine if you think there are not enough triple-A games on offer, but why do you think indie games have anything to do with that? If indie developers stopped making games for PlayStation, it’s not going to magically increase the rate and number of triple-A games coming to PS4. All you’re asking for when you admonish Sony for bringing indies to PlayStation is to have less games to choose from and that can’t be good for anyone.
You shouldn’t underestimate the impact that indie games have had on making the PS4 the console that’s leading this generation. Sony got a lot of good press for its attitude to indie developers on the road to release and managed to generate buzz for its console by showing off games like No Man’s Sky. We’re not saying that indie is the reason that the PS4 is the leading console this gen, but we are saying it has played its part in making it a successful console that publishers want to have their triple-A games on.
I feel like the main source of the vitriol towards indie games, however, is PS Plus. Every month, Sony announces a few free indie games as part of its PS Plus offering and every month people complain that they aren’t getting triple-A games. The question has to be asked: what do people think would happen if Sony decided not to offer us these indie titles? You think Activision is suddenly going to decide to give us all Call Of Duty for free? You think Sony is saying to EA, ‘we’re not interested in having FIFA on PS Plus, because we’ve got this indie that we want to give away’? No. If those indie games weren’t on PS Plus, you would be getting fewer games.
Indies aren’t holding triple-A back. They’re giving us incredible experiences and if you’re don’t care about them, you’re missing out.