Check out this mournful article on the Verge lamenting Microsoft’s perceived lack of outreach to indie game devs for the Xbox One compared to Sony’s for the PS4.
While it sounds as if MS is giving up ground to Sony in that arena, anyone who can see the forest for the trees realizes that said ground isn’t very valuable for high end consoles. That’s because blockbuster games that can take full advantage of such processing power – especially 8-core x86 systems – take millions of dollars to develop. That’s beyond the reach of most indie studios.
So what are indie studios good for? Small, simple games that don’t require hyper-realistic graphics, modeling, and AI. This makes them perfect for mobile devices, which have limited hardware and power to run that sort of stuff anyway. However, it falls far short of pushing the limits of a high end console. For example, take a look at Luftrausers, and indie game trumpeted by Sony as headed to the PS3 and Vita:
In case no one noticed, those graphics are laughable at best. Nostalgic gamers who grew up in the 80s might jump in, but enthusiast gamers used to Halo, Call of Duty, etc. will pass. Pushing a console for indie games is akin to marketing pickup trucks for grocery runs. It underutilizes the hardware so badly it’s basically pointless. Ergo, Microsoft isn’t missing much here at all.
There’s also the fact that MS already have an indie dev strategy: the Xbox One will run (slightly modified) Windows 8 apps, which opens up the platform to all Windows developers, great and small. This is all part of Microsoft’s write once, run everywhere strategy: who needs to go after indie game devs specifically when ultimately anyone will be able to write an app that runs on phones, PCs, tablets, and consoles with minimal to nonexistent porting effort?
Given that, Sony’s current indie games tack becomes less of an advantage. In fact, it still leaves a gaping hole in Sony’s strategy: although the PS4 is an x86 machine it doesn’t have much else in the way of app development commonality with any other device, including previous PS* hardware. Whoops.