Carrot Creations, a “one man band” indie development studio with Philip Morby responsible for design, code and marketing, recently launched its PlayStation Mobile game “Snake!” It’s a relatively simplistic affair, emulating the old phone game, but it’s one that has demonstrated both the good and the bad about getting a game onto a PlayStation platform.
Morby is, he tells me, the typical “bedroom coder”, doing his PlayStation Mobile (PSM) development after his normal working hours. “I did computer games programming at Derby University,” he says by way of an introduction, “and I had just got my Vita and wanted something to do over the summer if I didn’t get a job after university and PlayStation Mobile offered me a free beta in a language I understood well.”
Philip’s first and only game out at the moment, Snake, has sold over 700 copies but the process of getting it out there was, he says, “a confusing chain of hoops to jump through.”
“While I am not in this for the money,” he continues, “I find it odd that Sony don’t take a cut of the price you dictate, instead making up a price in their head based on the amount of money you would like per sale. For example, I have asked for 45p from every sale, and my game sells for 79p. This means Sony get 34p or 43% from each sell.”
“That’s a bit more than the typical 70/30 split between developer and publisher,” he says.
“The lack of trophies and PSN leaderboards doesn’t annoy me,” he admits, “these are small mobile games, I don’t see how adding features helps, it just needs promoting.”
Philip goes on to describe how there’s a lack of communication between Sony and developers. “It’s just frustrating,” he says, “and I have no idea how bigger developers / publishers put up with it. Once my game got approved it took 3 weeks before it got onto the store, with no real feedback as to exactly [when] it will be out. I couldn’t even promote it myself, it suddenly just appeared on the store.”
Philip’s Snake! running on PS Vita.
“It isn’t rocket science,” he continues, “a bit on their Blog – even if it’s just a ‘these games are out this week’ like they do with the PSN Store – would help. I can’t even buy codes for my own game to give out to reviewers,” he adds, speaking about promoting his game, “which would help matters.”
And it sounds like it’s during that submission process where most of the issues are. “You’re given no great feedback as to why your application has failed,” Philip tells me. “It’s just a lack of communication time after time. I actually got stuck during one bit (having failed submission twice) and at my third attempt, asked ‘If this didn’t work, please fully explain where I need to put this file.’”
“This submission failed with the same reason as before, as well as the statement ‘Also, we cannot answer to questions with application review.’”
“I would say that picking C# as the main language (although again, other languages are apparently on the road map) has allowed coders who probably wouldn’t have joined (myself included) to have a go at being an indie developer,” Philip says. “The PSM SDK speaks of a roadmap where support [for] other languages will be [added], Visual Studio integration (although I’ve enjoyed learning how to use Mono Develop) and other bits and bobs.”
“They’ve all been on that list for a while, and we have no idea when anything will be added.”
However, Philip does admit that the issues with PlayStation Mobile can be fixed relatively easily, and says that he still enjoyed the whole process. “Personally, even with all the troubles, I have enjoyed the journey I have taken since taking part in the open beta last year. It’s just a shame that you can see the similarities between PSM and the Vita itself, an awesome system/store let down by poor advertising and a lack of communication.”
Snake!, by Carrot Creations, is available now on PlayStation Mobile.
We’re looking to speak to anyone making games on PlayStation platforms. If you’d like to have your say, please get in touch.