- Now, you don't see these too often from me (mainly due to time constraints, rather than lack of opinions), but big sister site Gamasutra just posted a new editorial from me named 'Opinion: Why Indies Can't Thrive On Consoles', originally published in the May 2007 issue of Game Developer magazine.

I'm going to extract just enough of this so you can get the idea - please go over and read the remainder to get a better idea. But I'm talking about downloadable, self-financed indie console games here:

"Imagine the following unlikely scenario: the movie theaters of America are divided into three groups, each of which requires a different aspect ratio and delivery format for any movie showing in it. Perhaps the three different formats don’t actually encourage easy conversion between them. Just think what a chilling effect that would have on some filmmakers who wanted a shot at showing their independent movies nationwide."

"Sure, independent filmmakers might be able to do fairly well with only one-third of the American market at their disposal, but what if a certain target market just wasn’t able to get to a theater that played the right movie format for the film they wanted to see? Let’s say only a third of all art house movie chains were actually equipped to show that film. This scenario would force independent filmmakers to have much smaller budgets for their films since their chances of success are drastically reduced by 66 percent. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the movie available everywhere?"

Wha, movies? "The ham-fisted point I’m trying to make is that the same chilling effect is currently happening with downloadable games for consoles. While Microsoft has a clear outreach channel for independent games with Xbox Live Arcade, the company hasn’t been working with Sony or Nintendo to create standards so that those games are available to PlayStation 3 and Wii owners."

The crux? "In my view, an independent game studio should be able to make a downloadable game for the Xbox 360, sell 50,000 copies at $10 each, convert it to PlayStation 3 and sell 50,000 more copies at the same price, and do the same on Nintendo’s Wii. The incremental conversion costs should theoretically be much less than the cost of developing the game from scratch. This would all contribute to a much more viable downloadable games scene."

Maybe I'm being a little bit optimistic in thinking that the major players would ever 'work together' - but I was hoping that they would at least have similarly open approval processes and make it easy for self-published indies to get their games out on console. Right now, it's even a bit borderline whether XBLA is _that_ easy to get onto for a self-published independent, and the other two systems are even worse. Which is a major shame.