Feature

PS Vita's indie assault: Devs reveal why they're rallying behind Sony's handheld

PS Vita's indie assault: Devs reveal why they're rallying behind Sony's handheld
Measured against even the most optimistic of projections, the PS Vita has not sold to Sony's expectations.

Yet despite the sagging sales, the Vita is a capable handheld gaming machine with perhaps enough power under the hood to serve as a miniature version PlayStation 4.

Standing alongside this untapped power is Sony's commitment to bringing an impressive raft of indie titles to the gaming handheld.

A total of 24 new indie games were announced at Gamescom 2013 adding to the wealth already on their way to the handhelds, prompting us to catch up with some of the studios behind said games to find out just why they've jumped on board Vita's indie assault.

Stewart Gilray of Just Add Water – Gravity Crash Ultra



Why are you developing for PS Vita?



Why not? I know that could be a silly reply, but it's not really.

The machine is pretty easy to develop for, we really don't need to sell many units to break even, so why would we not?

We don't make games to HAVE to sell millions of units, or even 100k units. It's about supporting the platform and the community that the platform has, which it does.

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?

Depends on your definition really... has it sold out? No. Has it sold 50m+ units? No, but the fact that it's super powerful and has a great following is fantastic.

The machine itself has one of the highest software attachment rates around, and we're not talking 'mobile' gaming with 99c or cheaper titles, we're talking awesome quality, real dual stick gaming. As for things changing, I'd like to see it pickup some steam in terms of sales. The recent price reductions for the machine itself and the memory sticks, should make a difference there definitely.

Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?

Great question, and I'll be honest, I just don't know. I'd like to think the machine sells on its own merits to be honest.






Pascal Bestebroer of OrangePixel - Gunslugs



Why are you developing for PS Vita?

Orangepixel has been a mobile company since 2005, focussing on feature phones and later smart phones because these were very open platforms.

As soon as Sony, and mostly Shahid Ahmad, started being very vocal about looking for indie games, it was really a no-brainer to finally get our games onto a "closed" dedicated gaming platform. So I pitched him Gunslugs, and it's landing on Vita this October.

For me personally, there is still some extra magic in having your games on a dedicated game console, and it's great to see a company like Sony opening up!

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?

Many small indie games make for one really big portfolio of games.

It's obviously not going to be interesting for all types of gamers, but as smartphone and PC markets have shown there is a very huge audience out there that enjoys playing "different" games and will probably pick up a PS Vita to play some of these great games on it.

Hopefully Sony can grow the PS Vita's user base in this way, making it a very interesting platform for all types of developers.

Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?

Yeah I think it can be an interesting match having both devices.

I'm already talking with Abstraction games, who are doing the Gunslugs port to Vita, about some interesting ideas, because now that Sony opened the door I'm hoping it will stay open for some more OrangePixel content to enter








Tim Dawson of Witch Beam - Assault Android Cactus

Why are you developing for PS Vita?

Technically, the Vita has the right control scheme for Assault Android Cactus and Sony was willing to work with a small developer like us to make it happen.

Emotionally, I think the Vita's a cool device and will get a massive kick out of having our game playable on it! I carry mine everywhere, so I'm not being entirely rational here.

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?

I think the Vita is struggling with a catch 22 of needing big budget content to attract users, but needing users to justify the big budget content.

Indie games can circumvent that to a degree since we're working with much lower margins but still have the power to draw people in. Hopefully it ends up growing the platform and everyone wins!

Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?

I think Sony is doing whatever it can to make that happen.



Enhanced Cross Play, Remote Play and Cross Buy seem all about making the Vita a natural accessory for the PS4.






Teddy Lee of Cellar Door Games – Rogue Legacy

Why are you developing for PS Vita?

We made Rogue Legacy to be respectful of the player's time. So we made an average life short, we autosave as often as we can, and we made load times as short as possible.

That way players can pick up the game and play it for 10 minutes or less and still get a full experience. The Vita is a natural extension of this, so when Sony contacted us, we were totally up for it.

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?



I think people will follow the games. Small indie games are only small in hindsight. Bastion and Minecraft were considered small until they got big, so we think brushing aside indie games as products unable to push hardware is a mistake.



Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?

I don't think that will necessarily happen. Historically, the handheld space has been fairly distinct from the console one, with the performance of one not seeming to have much affect on the other.

The hardware is there, so I believe the remaining hole to get sales of the PS Vita is software, and it does look like Sony is trying hard to address that.


Laurens Bruins of Jaywalkers Interactive - Kick & Fennick

Why are you developing for PS Vita?

As a small developer with no budget, let alone a marketing budget, releasing on PS Vita is a great way for us to get noticed.

Of course there's a torrent of indie games coming, but it's nothing compared to what you see on iOS for example.

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?

We think the PS Vita will pick up steam as more games become available and the PS4 hits, bringing lots of extra value to the Vita.



If Sony can make sure to deliver some big games as well, apart from the many indies, the Vita's future looks bright.



Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?

The many cool cross-platform features the PS4 and Vita have definitely make it an attractive proposition for PS4 owners.

Remote play is a very cool and enticing feature and with PlayStation Plus and all the free games that come along with it, it gets even more interesting. The PS4 looks to become a big hit, so that should work in favor of the Vita.




Sean Murray of Hello Games - Joe Danger & Joe Danger 2

Why are you developing for PS Vita?

We've been asked a lot whether Joe Danger would ever come out on Vita and we'd like to see both Joe Danger and Joe Danger 2 on as many platforms as possible because each is a chance to introduce them to a new audience.

But it's super important to us that the games play as well as they always have.

They have to look great and play really smoothly, and Vita actually has the horsepower to do that. Couple all that with Sony's commitment to Vita right now and we thought that it's an ideal place for Joe Danger to be.

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?

I really hope it will become a success, if only because first I'm a Sony fanboy, and second I love buttons on handheld consoles.

As much as I love iOS and smartphone games I can't bear to think of more traditional game controls going away. I think that indie games are a really good way of helping them remain essential.

Vita and 3DS are already richer for having smaller, more varied games that feel to me more natural for a handheld machine than the first-person shooters and other action games that the mainstream industry has been making for them.

Like, I'm currently completely obsessed with Spelunky on Vita, and I loved Hotline Miami and Guacamelee.

OK, none of these games are native to Vita, they all came from PC and PS3, but they really feel right for a handheld. So I'm hoping that more like them will help form a bigger, more varied and comparatively cheaper library of games that will help Vita be more attractive.



Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?



I guess Sony will be doing a lot to try to create a halo effect for Vita with PS4, but I'm not entirely sure.

I'm not completely sold on this 'second-screen gaming' thing, but I like the idea of better Remote Play, especially in my house.

As ever, it's up to us developers to make an amazing game out of linking a Vita with a PS4. But even then, Nintendo's Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for GameCube and GBA was amazing but completely limited by the fact that so few people had enough of the necessary hardware to play it to the full.

Can we risk making a game that depends on there being enough players having both a PS4 and a Vita? That's kind of a scary prospect.




Ross Brierly of Laughing Jackal - Flame Over

Why are you developing for PS Vita?

Having already released two games on the platform, we're huge fans of the Vita here at Laughing Jackal.

In our experience it's a truly fantastic platform to develop for and we think that having gone through an extensive design phase for Flame Over, the Vita itself is the perfect fit.

Not only that, but when you work with a company like SCEE who genuinely believe in what you're doing and always go that extra mile to help with the development process, then for a small team like ours, that kind of support can be crucial in creating a successful release.

The PS Vita hasn't been a success so far, so why do you think things will change now, especially when it comes to games from small indie developers?

While the Vita hasn't sold quite as well as perhaps people were hoping, its user base is steadily growing with gamers who are seriously passionate about handheld gaming and are eager to try all sorts of new types of games.

And while I'm sure that the recently announced price cut and all the incredible new games - both indie and otherwise - will attract more gamers to the system, for a developer like us, the "type" of gamer that a console attracts is almost as important as the number of gamers.

We think that by releasing a game like Flame Over on the Vita, we have a great shot at appealing to a wide selection of the platform's audience and I'm sure that other indie developers will take the same view.

Do you think the upcoming release of the PS4 will create a "halo effect" for PS Vita?

Most definitely. With all the integration between PS4 and Vita, we're certain that the Vita is going to be a very attractive proposition for most, if not all PS4 users.

As a dedicated Vita user myself, I'm expecting to get a great deal of use out of the remote play feature in particular now that most games will be supporting it.
Thanks to all the developers for their time.

US Correspondent

Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.

Comments

4 comments
View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies
Igor McBell
@Benjamin Kolkman
I presume that you base your suggestion about slapping your face for 1k on your own values. Oh, your life must be really miserable then.
For comparison, Apple isn't paying anyone. They provide great devices, tools and people develop for their platform. Everyone with an IQ higher than guinea pig's can see a problem for Sony here.
This article make as much sense as asking Ruud Gullit why his character is exclusive for Xbox One version of FIFA.
Kallum Smarties
Bit crap really. They have not even sold 6 million compared to nearly 35 million with the 3DS. Think they are under exaggerating their problems because to me, it looks bad. The huge gap in sales to me definitely makes me fell that something is obviously wrong with this console because the gap would of gone shorter by now.
Benjamin Kolkman
igor mcbell if sony paid you 1000 dollar to slap yourself in your face with a fish you would do it.
i am happy they are doing this. gaming on a handheld with amazing graphics and good controls is always good.
Igor McBell
"Why are indie developers rallying behind a struggling platform?"
Probably because Sony is funding most of these ports. Of course developers will say nice things about someone who feeds them.
Important information

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. By continuing to use our site, you consent to Steel Media's privacy policy.

Steel Media websites use two types of cookie: (1) those that enable the site to function and perform as required; and (2) analytical cookies which anonymously track visitors only while using the site. If you are not happy with this use of these cookies please review our Privacy Policy to learn how they can be disabled. By disabling cookies some features of the site will not work.