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Jonathan Blow Talks “Massively Negative Experiences” on Xbox, Sony Being “Really Tremendous” and Crazy New Ideas

June 13, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

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Jonathan Blow, Developer on The Witness (which is coming to PS4 first), has always been regarded as someone who speaks his mind within the industry, especially following his inclusion in Indie Game: The Movie and our hottest men in games list.

As one of the final interviews that will be happening on the PlayStation LiveCast (can you believe E3 is almost over?), Jonathan Blow spoke to Sid Shuman, Social Media Manager at PlayStation, where he was asked why The Witness is PS4 exclusive off the bat:

Well, coming off my last game [Braid], I definitely had had mildly unpleasant experiences with other platform holders and things [it came to 360 only, and was ported by another dev to PS3/others a year later]. But I saw some of my friends who had games like a year or two later have massively negative experiences. So that became very important to me, I want to partner with someone where the relationship’s not like ‘let’s just keep kicking you, but you’re gonna put up with it because you have to to be on our platform’. So that was thing number one.

Jonathan then discussed how he had talked with PlayStation about putting The Witness on PS3, because they were thinking it might come out in 2011/2012, but as it became bigger, they held it off because it would be better timed for the next-gen consoles. After a little waiting, they received dev kits early on and went to developer meetings, which Jonathan doesn’t think is “typical” and hasn’t been his “experience for this console generation with some other platforms. Some people are a little better, some are not. But what Sony’s been doing is really tremendous,” with Blow then bringing attention to all the PlayStation indie titles at E3, calling it “amazing” and wondering why “everybody doesn’t have a more open policy.”

Specifically looking at indies, Jonathan talked about why they’re good for the industry and gamers:

So, AAA games are super expensive – hundreds of millions of dollars sometimes – and when you’re laying out the money to make one of those games, it’s very difficult to justify making totally crazy creative decisions. Because you could make a decision that everybody thinks is stupid and then you just lost $300 million, right? So, AAA games tend to be a little bit conservative, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how it has to be if they’re going to be more or less financially stable.

But then where do crazy new ideas happen? Well, what happens is, the crazy ideas get explored in smaller, less expensive projects. But other people in the industry are paying attention, so if you make a crazy game that does some new game mechanic or has some new aesthetic, other developers tend to pick up on that and it makes its way into AAA over the next couple of years. You know, that’s happened a bunch of times.

Following up on Sid asking how today’s indies may be inspiring the next generation of AAAs, Blow said, “and some of them become the next generation AAAs. You never know what’s going to happen.”

What do you think about everything Jonathan said? Let us know in the comments below.