Update: ID@Xbox’s Chris Charla fired back at Jim Ryan’s disgraceful comments by stating that indie games are more important than ever. Other Xbox employees chimed in as well, calling indie games like Firewatch, Rime, Inside and others masterpieces which elevate the industry.
Games from independent developers are more relevant and important today than they ever have been.
— Chris Charla (@iocat) June 20, 2017
It’s another day and it’s another moment where Sony’s Jim Ryan can’t keep his mouth shut. This time around, Ryan went on a diatribe against indie games. In an interview with GamesIndustry magazine, he made some rather bizarre comments. Keep in mind, Ryan is the head of sales and marketing for PlayStation. He said:
“One of the things we have realised is that these video collages of ten indie games shown in a minute, is almost meaningless. There was a time and a place, in the early stages of the life of PlayStation 4, to make statements. It was more about making a statement that we are serious about the indies…it was just good to talk about in 2013-2014. It is less relevant now.”
Ryan, as always, is completely off-base here. Indie games aren’t “less relevant” because they’re the ones which push the boundaries when it comes to gameplay mechanics and telling powerful stories. For example, remember Firewatch or Transistor? Those titles did more for the industry, in terms of changing the way we experienced narratives, than Sony’s games did. Even if you look at PlayStation VR, smaller titles like Battlezone offer a much better virtual reality experience than their first-party games. Ryan’s comments couldn’t be more disrespectful to indie developers because they’re the ones who made the PlayStation 4 appealing at the beginning of this generation and are one of the main reasons why PlayStation VR is picked up by many consumers.
Ryan seems to be upset at the fact that Microsoft showcased a number of smaller experiences during their briefing. It just seems like a petty insult than anything else. Microsoft spent more than “a minute” on smaller experiences, that’s for sure. Titles like Super Lucky’s Tale got a lot of attention. Even games like The Darwin Project were able to shine. Microsoft had this stigma around them that they’re only the console of “bro shooters” so it was refreshing to see a lot of varying exclusives. They effectively washed away that stereotype. They also demonstrated the popularity of the ID@Xbox program and how much they’re committed to it. Contrary to what Ryan believes, indie games are more important than ever because smaller developers are the only ones willing to take risks and move the industry forward. The only standout games coming out of Sony’s conference were a mediocre Dark Souls close and a superhero quick time fest. Those titles aren’t moving the industry forward like Firewatch. Ryan should really keep his mouth shut because now he’s damaging his company’s relationship with indies.