Opinion

PlayStation Plus and Indie Games: A Match Made in Heaven?

Today, we look at two instances where PlayStation Plus has served indie games well. PlayStation Plus is a subscription service offered to Sony gamers. In addition to enabling online play, it also gifts subscribers with two free games per month. However, these games can only be played so long as your subscription is ongoing.

Games offered along with PlayStation Plus often receive a boost in popularity, as gamers are introduced to titles that they otherwise might not have explored. This is good news for indie developers who do not have the marketing budgets of larger studios and thus cannot spend a fortune on advertising.

For the following two games, PlayStation Plus helped greatly with expanding their playerbase.

1. Rocket League

Rocket League is a game where you get to play soccer with rocket powered cars.
Rocket League is a game where you get to play soccer with rocket powered cars.

Put simply, Rocket League is soccer game that replaces human players with rocket powered cars. The idea might sound ludicrous, but the game has been fun enough to amass millions of players. Rocket League is developed by Psyonix and, since its release in 2015, has remained one of the most popular multiplayer indie games. It enjoys an average of 1.6 million players daily.

Rocket League’s success could easily be attributed to its addictive gameplay that is easy to learn yet hard to master. However, there is another factor that serves in Rocket League’s favor. Upon release, Rocket League was given out as a free PlayStation Plus game. As Dave Hagewood of Psyonix once explained, “PlayStation Plus was an ideal route” because budgets are usually depleted by the time games are close to release, leaving little money for marketing. It is a risk, however, as it requires developers to forfeit the profit that they would have made had customers simply purchased the game.

Fortunately, for Psyonix, the gamble paid off and Rocket League saw an astonishing influx of players. This proved that if a game is built on ideas that resonate with gamers, merely exposing them to it is enough to create colossal fandoms.

2. Fall Guys

Fall Guys is a gaming craze that has swept the world.
Fall Guys is a gaming craze that has swept the world.

While Rocket League was enjoying its success, developers elsewhere were taking notes. Fall Guys is developed by Mediatonic and released in 2020. When described as succinctly as possible, it sounds as unremarkably simple as Rocket League does. You control a jolly jellybean and tackle obstacle courses, not unlike those found in the game show ‘Takeshi’s Castle’. However, as Rocket League demonstrates, sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones. The world of Fall Guys is one where falling fruits, spinning windmills, fake doors, and slimy inclines are your obstacles. It is hilarious to see a flurry of colorful beans flood towards a finish line guarded by cartoonish traps and challenges. 

Fall Guys has quickly become 2020’s indie darling and while its gameplay is funny, its numbers are nothing to laugh at. Upon release, Fall Guys had so many players that its servers had trouble handling all the traffic. On its first day up, it amassed 1.5 million players and on Steam alone, Fall Guys had sold over 7 million copies by the 27th of August.

Once again, PlayStation Plus may have played a role in Fall Guys’ success, as the game was released as a free PlayStation Plus game in August. Since then, Fall Guys has become PlayStation Plus’s most downloaded game of all time.

Mediatonic has made no secret of using Rocket League’s strategy of using PlayStation Plus to boost their popularity. On Reddit, Mediatonic revealed that “it’s something that worked super well for Rocket League which has been one of our inspirations”.

PlayStation Plus is loved by some gamers and loathed by others. Whatever your stance on the service is, it is clear that PlayStation Plus has helped catapult a few indie games into stardom by introducing them to a wide audience. For that reason alone, PlayStation Plus has proven that it is a service with potential.

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