Schafer Discusses the Dangers of Closed Platforms, Likely to Lose Support of Indie Games

February 19, 2012 Written by Alex Osborn

Last year, Ron Carmel from indie developer 2DBoy shared his thoughts on the dangers that closed platforms pose to the future of independent games. Double Fine’s Tim Schafer has stepped out to echo Carmel’s words pointing out that both PlayStation and Xbox hardware is very unfriendly to indie development teams.

Speaking to IndustryGamers, Schafer explained the importance behind Carmel’s words:

I really think it’s something they can’t dismiss and they should really pay a lot more attention to because he’s calling attention to a migration, an exodus of real creative talent away from those platforms to more open platforms, and I think they should do something quick to reverse that.

I think that that was kind of a warning call. It’s not like ‘it would be nice to do this’ for developers – [if they don’t] they’re going to lose out. Things change every generation and just because you’re on top and the 900 pound gorilla in one generation, as you’ve seen, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t mean it’ll be that way forever.

I think that these threats that are possibly being ignored are going to hurt those guys.

By cutting off these smaller development teams, major consoles are neglecting an entire outlet that is bursting with creativity. As the industry evolves and games get more and more expensive, we’re going to see an increasing number of developers shy away from innovating and taking risks. That is why it is so essential that the indie teams continue to stay relevant — they could very well serve as the future’s main source of innovation.

Schafer went on to express his love for both main consoles, and how unfortunate it is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to develop for Sony and Microsoft hardware.

We can put something up on the App Store pretty easily, we can put stuff up on Steam really easily. I like the Xbox and the PS3. I like Sony and Microsoft, but those systems are closed and curated very closely and it costs a lot more money to go through that system, to patch a game.

It makes me stressed out that if I put a game up there, I might not be able to patch it because it might cost too much money, whereas these more open platforms will let us manage our own price and our own updates. It’s just a lot more appealing right now.

There are good games on both platforms and that’s the thing, is that I really believe in both those platforms, and I want them to succeed. So when you read an article warning about the migration away from the platform, that’s a shame and we want that not to be the case.

Do you agree with Schafer’s thoughts? Is the restrictive nature of the PS3 and Xbox 360 really forcing the hand of indie teams? Will this backlash result in a lack of creativity in the gaming space? What do you think?