Following on from Parts 1 and 2 of my exclusive interview with Rami Ismail, the one half of the indie development duo (known as Vlambeer) further expounded upon his theories on why one shouldn’t write off the Vita just yet. Enjoy!
Now you’ve mentioned as to how indie can turn something around. Sony recently stated that they have practically zero games in development for the Vita…
Yeah, first party.
Some people argue that that’s unofficially, an official nail in the coffin from Sony’s perspective where they argue: “We’re done with this platform. We can’t give the Vita support anymore. We’re moving onto the PlayStation 4”. Basically, Sony are now concerned with bigger fish. Or do you think they’re now arguing that the Vita is self-sustaining enough as a platform, with indie support, that it can now do its own little thing? That it has grown up?
Yeah. No, I think it’s way more like that. I think they’re repositioning Vita in their eco-system as the enthusiasts device. The device for people that want to play interesting indie games rather than the big Blockbuster AAA games, because it just seems that those games don’t really do well on Vita because the people on there have different tastes. They are not the Call of Duty audience. They’re people that really, really like the intricacies of game design. They like interesting, weird, quirky, strange experimental stuff. They’re not the same people. Sony is not saying “We’re done with the Vita”, because the Vita is central to a lot of what the company is doing now. It’s a connected device with the PlayStation 4 – they’ve got the game streaming coming to it, they’ve got all sorts of things coming for the Vita. They are focusing on Vita, but they’re focusing on Vita in a way that’s different than what they’re focusing on PlayStation. Because for PlayStation 4, a lot of their audience is still that audience that likes Call of Duty, that likes FIFA, that likes NHL, that likes sports racing, and shooters. So they’ll make those games because their studios are set up to make those games, right?
Is it a bit like the iPhone with the App Store, where the App Store is self-sustaining with a lot of independent developer apps and the App Store doesn’t get a lot of apps in development by Apple? Where Apple have just got an ecosystem…
Why would Apple do that, right? They’re not needed to do that. They don’t need to spend money on making games or apps because other people are doing it. And that’s exactly what Sony is saying, that the Vita is fine. There are games coming out. The device is working. It’s central to their strategy. Having a Vita is a huge advantage as a PlayStation 4 owner. It’s doing fine. Why would they have to make Killzone or Uncharted? Why would they have to have those big games there if the Vita as is, is doing more than fine? I think that’s a very valid strategy for Sony. I think that’s actually a smart strategy. Instead of competing with themselves or forcing other people to compete with them, they just go “well I guess this is yours now. Do with it whatever you want”. I think that’s a good stance.
Do you think the Vita has legs and has a future ahead of it?
I think so. I think since last year the sales have been going up and the fact that our game did second best on Vita is pretty impressive.
Would you argue that even though the machine arguably hasn’t done that well for Sony, that from an indie developers perspective, there’s money to be made from the Vita?
Which I guess from (that perspective) means that the games will always be there…
Yes. I mean, we did. I can’t argue no because Luftrausers did really well on Vita. Super Crate Box did okay on Vita as well and that’s a game that has been around for four years for free, that is available on the Vita for $2.79 because mobile versions of Super Crate Box are paid. Even that game does well, so you can do well on Vita. You can definitely do well on Vita. Can you focus solely on Vita? You can. I would ask “Why would you?” because if you can make it on Vita, you can also make it work on other platforms.
PC mostly, but I think the Vita is a very good platform to also have in your launch lineup. If you can do that, if your middleware supports it, why not? And most popular middleware does support the Vita.
You use GameMaker, and YoYo Games recently announced…
Yeah, GameMaker can support it. I think Unity supports it. The majority of game tools support Vita, so why not just talk to Sony and get the game out there?
You obviously mentioned the indie developer who wanted his game on the Vita. As somebody who doesn’t have a track record, how easy is it for an indie developer to publish a game on the Vita?
So that’s actually the thing I like most about Sony. If you want to talk to Sony and you’re a developer, find one of their representatives on Twitter and reach out to them. That’s all you really need. In general, they’ll respond to you relatively quickly. You’ve got Shuhei Yoshida on Twitter. YOSP. You’ve got Adam Boyes at @amboyes. You’ve got Nick Suttner at @nsuttner. Shahid Kamal at @shahidkamal. Their team is on Twitter and you can simply tweet to them. If you want a bit more private contact, you can just send a tweet, ask them to follow you, and then DM them or email them. They’re very easy to get a hold of and in most cases they will be able to figure out something. That doesn’t mean that they can do that for every game, but for most games that I’ve seen, they can make something work. And I think that’s very, very cool to be that transparent. It’s actually the nicest thing, I guess. They’re just people and they’re there to be people.
Click here for Part 4.