Microsoft has swung open the gates to indie developers by making the Xbox One a development kit in its own right. But how much does it cost to start creating indie games for Sony's rival PlayStation 4?
Polygon spoke to various development sources who say that the PlayStation 4 dev kit costs about $2,500, which is $2,000 more than an Xbox One. Indie Xbox One developers will also pay a fee to Microsoft, which a source said is a few hundred dollars. Microsoft declined to talk publicly about the fee.
Although this $2,500 price is being cited in development circles, the game-makers we spoke to all said that Sony had lent them dev kits for a limited period of one year, for free. As of right now, there are no dev kits being sold. Sony is sending whatever it has available to favored developers. "All the indies I know got them for free," said one developer. "Sony has been amazing about kits and development thus far."
Another developer said that Sony is focused on loaners, rather than collecting fees. "They are handing them out like candy," he said.
"Self-publishing has been available on PlayStation platforms for over five years, so it's nothing new," said a spokesperson for Sony. "The process of devs bringing their games to market has continued to evolve, and PlayStation has led the charge in adapting and embracing new publishing rules to allow for more creative freedom for developers."
The spokesperson pointed toward Sony's loaner dev kit program, as well as other support mechanisms. "With self-publishing, we keep things really flexible for developers and give them lots of options, including funding through the Pub Fund, which is back-end funding paid upon completion of the game, we waive patch fees for indies and all digital titles and we embrace new business models like F2P, episodic and subscriptions. We've had more than 500 games self-published on PSN."
In the previous generation, PS3 dev kits cost between $1,000 and $10,000. Generally, there are different levels of dev kits, ranging in debug functionality and pricing. The $2,500 price point seems to be a popular option among most developers.
Sony said it would not be changing its self-publishing processes, which are detailed on a website dedicated to indies. Many developers are happy to work in emulation on PCs. A dev kit is not necessary until later in a project's life, and few indies are aiming to release their games at the PS4's launch.
"By and large, indie development has become extremely accessible, especially on our platform," said the spokesperson. "We offer a lot of freedom and flexibility and we've built our in-PS Store promotions around indie titles and their launch dates. Also, we provide indies with additional support like putting them on stage at E3, hosting indie-focused events like our Indie Arcade at GDC, etc. Most importantly, our Developer Relations team has really developed relationships with the devs. They talk daily, offer advice and really advocate for them and their particular needs."
You can find out more about PlayStation 4 indie games in this Polygon feature.