Jun 30, 2021 - Technology

Sony's high price of admission

The Sony logo is displayed at the company's headquarters in Tokyo.
Photo: YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

Sony is under fire from indie developers who say it charges over $25,000 for prime placement on the PlayStation store and gives them "no ability to manage their games."

Why it matters: The process of getting listed, and then selling, games on the PlayStation store is a bureaucracy that small developers have no control over.

  • Outside of the work associated with making the game, developers should expect to submit trailers specific to PlayStation platforms, write blog posts, submit multiple social media forms, and so on.
  • This is on top of a $25,000 price tag, if they want to get featured — a minimum, as developers are then expected to give 30% of their additional earnings.

Iain Garner, who co-founded game publisher Neon Doctrine, said on Twitter that "in order to get promotion you must jump through hoops, beg and plead."

  • Garner does not specifically name Sony or PlayStation, instead referring to it as "Platform X" and "the operator of a very successful console and does not have Games Pass."
  • Two sources with direct knowledge of Sony's platform confirmed the policies to Axios as those of Sony.
  • He added that "if Platform X doesn't like your game, no fanfare no feature no love. There is NOTHING you can do to fix this," and that for a platform to promote a game on its official blog, "is not as good as they think it is."

What they're saying:WhiteThorn Games CEO Matthew White cosigned Garner’s thread, saying that less than 3% of his company’s sales come from "Platform X," which he calls their "worst performing" platform.

  • "We're a company with about 19 full time, 10 part time employees, and I'm honestly not sure life to date we've made more on this platform than they're asking us to pay out of pocket for featuring."
  • "I know it seems like I'm jumping on a dogpile, but it's been really difficult to work with our developers telling them straight up not to expect sales on PX."

Mike Rose of publisher No More Robots commented on the thread indirectly. "[D]evs are too worried to say it publicly," he said. "But trust me when I say that the vast majority of devs are reading that thread, and nodding their heads violently."

Sony did not respond to Axios’ request for comment.

The bottom line: Sony's current practices are a tough pill for some developers, many of which are often marginalized creators.

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