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PlayStation Network has a lot more indie games than you might expect. For example, Steam/iOS darling Cogs is available as a completely free-to-play multiplayer game on your PS3. The only thing is, it's hidden within the confines of PlayStation Home.
Gaming is a big push for Home, especially with its upcoming redesign. However, I had to ask Jack Buser, director of Sony's PS3 social network, why developers would even want to make content for Home in the first place. Wouldn't chasing PSN and the Pub Fund be the wiser choice? Buser told me that "A lot of developers start at Home" because "Home tends to be one of the easiest points of entry for content creation on PlayStation."
"Home is all scripting (LUA), and all the 3D stuff is being done in Maya. So it's super-easy," Buser explained. "You can have teams of literally one person. Usually team sizes vary between 5-10 people. You can create a full-on game the scope of Sodium in six months. That's just not possible in traditional console development."
And sure, approaching the broader PSN market would be more lucrative, the audience of Home is rather sizable. "We've had 23 million downloads of Home. It's a very active service, so the traffic is extremely high. And we just point that traffic to whatever game is featured at the time." At any given time, Home is promoting a game through multiple points of entry, including the What's New icon on the XMB. By clicking through, you'll be able to bypass most of Home's intimidating menus and go directly to game content. "We're a managed platform, we make sure that if you take the time to build a game on our platform, we tell people to go play that game."
The business model is entirely different on Home, with most games opting for a "freemium" model that allows users to play for free, but augment the experience with add-ons. Buser calls development on Home "data-driven," where user feedback is implemented almost immediately, thanks to Home's weekly update schedule. "It's a model that's really common on the open internet, like Facebook games," Buser said. And the results? "You can see traffic and revenue increase over time."
Buser is confident that the Home team will continue to draw the attention of indies to the platform. "You're not writing any assembly, no C. So your cost of development is very low," he said. However, there's an even more lucrative opportunity: getting paid by Sony directly for content. "We do investments ourselves, strategically. If we see a developer with a game idea that we really want, we can invest in those games. We'll actually buy some games outright."
"We can go to a developer and say 'we need a first person shooter built,' we'll just pay them outright to do it." That may be how the ambitious free-to-play FPS Bootleggers found its way into Home. With the impending re-launch of Sony's evolving online community, it'll be interesting to see what other games it will play home to.
Sales for the "pay what you want" Humble Indie Bundle 3 have passed the $2,000,000 mark, an impressive factoid which also provides a handy reminder that today is the last day you can snap up the mega-bargain. If you haven't yet, do so!
The Humble Indie Bundle 3 is now the most successful of the four Humble Bundles so far (1, 2, the Frozenbyte Bundle, and 3), comfortably passing #2's record of $1.8 million. And it's not over yet: you have until 4pm Pacific today to buy the Bundle. If you already have it yourself, you can always buy more Bundles as gifts, to give away now or save for later.
For the very reasonable price of 'as much or as little as you jolly well please,' The Humble Indie Bundle 3 gives you And Yet It Moves, Atom Zombie Smasher, Cogs, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Hammerfight, Steel Storm, and VVVVVV. All games come DRM-free for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and can be activated on Steam and Desura too.
If you pay more than the average price (currently $5.81), you'll also receive the five games from the second Humble Indie Bundle: Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, Revenge of the Titans. These can also be activated on Steam and Desura. Ultra-bargain!
By default, the Humble Bundle money is split between the HIB 2 and 3 developers (27.5% each), the EFF and Child's Play (15% each), and the Bundle's organiser, Wolfire Games (15%), though buyers can adjust the shares. Assuming people don't tinker with the percentages too much, well, that's a whole heap of money for everyone involved and for charity.
Out of the blue, another stonking 'pay what you want' Humble Indie Bundle launched this morning. The Humble Indie Bundle 3 packs DRM-free versions of VVVVVV, Hammerfight, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, and And Yet It Moves, bristling with new features and coming to new platforms.
As with the three previous splendid Humble Indie Bundles--the original two and the Frozenbyte Bundle--you can pay as much or as little as you please for the bundle of indie loveliness. You also get to choose how your payment is divided up between the developers, charity Child's Play, the EFF, and Humble Indie Bundle organiser Wolfire Games.
The Bundle includes Windows, Mac and Linux versions of all the games, which are new for several and debut here. You can also redeem the games on Steam and Desura, which is awfully handy.
As if that weren't all wonderful enough, new features for several games debut in the Bundle too. VVVVVV scores a level editor and some third-party levels, including one made by Minecraft creator 'Notch.' And Yet It Moves has new achievements and bonus content, plus Hammerfight scores a new survival mode.
Wolfire's Humble Indie Bundle series has proved hugely successful. The first made a touch under $1.3 million, the second raked over over $1.8m, and the Frozenbyte bundle earned a very respectable $909k. Across the three, they've raised over a million dollars for charity.
You only have two weeks to snap up the Humble Indie Bundle 3, so hop to it, head on over to the HIB 3 site to buy video games.
The third annual Indie Game Challenge is afoot! Between now and October 3, 2011, independent game developers can submit a working copy of their games (and a pitch video) to compete for $250,000 worth of prizes.
Sponsored by The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, The Guildhall at SMU, and GameStop, the Indie Game Challengeâs selected finalists will also receive something coveted by most independent developers everywhere: serious marketing exposure.
The grand prize-winning developer will receive $100,000, and selected finalists will also have their pitch-videos "promoted on GameStop.com and GameStop TV where they will be seen by millions of people and be eligible for additional prize money and People's Choice Award voting." As if that's not enough, members of each finalist team will be flown to the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas, and "have an opportunity to showcase their games to top publishers in the video game industry set up by the IGC."
In 2011, the $100,000 grand prize awards went to developer Playdead for their moody platformer LIMBO in the "Professional" indie category, and Inertia by Team Hermes (from The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University) won the $100,000 grand prize for best "Non-professional" indie. Both games are currently available for download on Xbox Live Arcade.
To further put the quality of titles showcased by the Indie Game Challenge in perspective, last years winners were in the great company of other finalists like Solace (One Man Down), Monaco: What's Yours is Mine (Pocketwatch Studios), Fortix 2 (Nemesys Games), and Hazard: The Journey of Life (Alexander Bruce). The previous year, Cogs (Lazy 8 Studios) and Gear (Team 3) took away the professional and non-professional grand prizes, respectively.
Finalists will be announced in January 2012, followed by an Indie Game Challenge Awards ceremony in February. The submission fee is $100 per title, which is used to cover administrative costs, with any remaining funds to be "used to fund scholarships for video game design/development students." Details on how to enter a game for consideration can be found here.