“PlayStation Looks on Top Right Now” Over Xbox for Indie Games

Between PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, PlayStation has the upper hand when it comes to independent games, says Mike Rose of tinyBuild Games based on his microtalk at GDC 2015 entitled "The Turning Tide: Independent Game Sales in 2015." The following figures are based on surveys and inquiries that Rose made with indie developers on sales figures, which he admits Sony and Microsoft don't particularly like developers to reveal.

On Xbox One so far, where there were about 20 indie games released in 2014, sales for low-end games ranged from 1,000 to 5,000 where sales of high-end games range from 20,000 to, well, Mike has no idea. The campaign for indie games on Xbox One hasn't resulted in too much success yet, but we have the recent Screamride (for which I just gave a stellar review) and the upcoming Ori and the Blind Forest. However, a parity clause where Microsoft isn't keen on indies publishing on Xbox One if they have already published on a PlayStation platform has turned off some of the indie community.

Comparatively on PlayStation Network, where about 60 indie games were released in 2014, sales for low-end games ranged from 1,000 to 10,000 and sales of high-end games range from 30,000 to 200,000 games. What has been a successful strategy on PSN is selling the game at full price for the first few months and then accepting a deal with Sony to publish the game for free in a PS Plus deal, for which Sony will give the indie developer a fixed chunk of money as an estimate of how much the game would have made during the period of time it's on PS Plus. Since PS Plus reaches plenty of subscribers, many indies don't mind the deal as it extends the reach and popularity of the title for a secure lump sum.

Of course, Steam still reigns supreme with over 125 million active accounts with approximately 1,850 indie games released in 2014. , low-end sales on Steam were about 1,000 to 10,000 if the game is poorly rated, had no marketing, or was relatively unknown. On the flipside, a high-end indie Steam game in a popular genre (like zombies), critically acclaimed, or a hit with YouTubers and Twitchers could fetch 100,000 to 3 million sales. Steam also has frequent game sales that result in sporadic up-ticks in sales.

Mike Rose also approached the topic of mobile and Nintendo indie sales on 3DS and Wii U. Mobile is a high-risk, high-reward free-for-all where there are about 500 games per day on iOS. There's so much noise that it's impossible to make it big on iOS or Android without immediate buzz. 3DS and Wii U is all right, especially if Nintendo features the indie game on front of store, but it's difficult porting a title to 3DS and Nintendo doesn't frequently do sales so sales tend to taper off. Both are worth considering, though, for additional sales revenue.

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