Though gamescon isn’t typically known for being a flashy spectacle of triple A games (that would be E3), it still has to be considered odd that on a day marked as the next major battle between Sony and Microsoft, the focus was instead on indie games.
Both companies devoted large parts of their presentation time to how the new consoles will handle indie games, with Microsoft’s approach being the bigger deal simply because no one had any idea exactly how the Xbox One would be releasing indie games, after some ominous announcements regarding their stance on the topic.
Long story short, anyone interested in developing indie games for the Xbox One needs to register with Microsoft to do so, and get their approval. If you get that approval, they provide you with the development kits to get started, which for an indie developer is a pretty big deal.
While the system will be limited at first, the idea is to use the feedback of these regulated developers to help build a system that will ideally let anyone who owns and Xbox One make games for it. The exact hows, whens, and whys of this transition remain something of a mystery, but developers who’ve already been working with the system seem excited about the potential of it, so even though the average gamer may have no idea what the hell any of this means, they apparently can expect some good games out of it.
Sony on the other hand has been continuing their keep it simple policy, and just seem to be inviting every major indie game of recent memory to be a part of the PS4. Highlights include “Rouge Legacy,” “The Binding of Issac,” and the upcoming “Hotline Miami 2.” It’s an approach that may lack ingenuity, but you have to appreciate its ability to be clearly explained in a few sentences.
Ultimately though it’s still too early to tell which of the two will be claim victory in the indie arms race, but it’s becoming more and more clear that indies are gaining some serious muscle in the gaming world, and the time has never been better to be a programmer or designer with a little means and the right idea.
Naturally that means the obvious winner would be the gamers who get to reap the benefits this movement towards encouraging original concepts in and encouraging fresh talent brings. So…yay us.