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Profit Isn't Top Priority for The Witness

| 24 May 2013 03:18

The creator of Braid would rather make a quality gaming experience than an easy money-grab.

As gaming systems grow more advanced, the costs of producing games rises higher and higher. Many publishers can't risk losing money on a lackluster game that tried something new, so they stick to tried-and-true genres with dedicated audiences. Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid and current developer of the PS4 puzzler The Witness, uses his indie status to reject that line of thinking. In his mind, it's an acceptable loss to spend more money building a game than the game earns back - as long as it brings a high-quality experience to those who do buy it.

"I would definitely like to make our money back on this game and I would like to make a profit on it," says Blow in a post on the PlayStation Blog, "but it's not actually the number one priority. The number one priority is to make the best possible game that we can make, that brings the most beneficial experience to the players."

It's immediately apparent that the ideas behind The Witness would leave most publishers nervous. It's an open-world puzzle game with a focus on exploration and, according to Blow, hidden layers of story and philosophy. With no publisher to pigeon-hole The Witness into more conventional directions, it's free to try these experimental designs. "There's a magic there in the subject that we're exploring," Blow says. "And because the game was not constrained by financial fetters, we were able to find the magic and make it as good as we possibly could."

The Witness will be arriving on the PlayStation 4 as a timed exclusive (relative to other consoles), with a PC or iOS port being a possibility on launch day. This is just one of many independent games that Sony is drawing in with its indie-friendly approach to development. "For a while, we had been generally interested in being on the next Sony console, so we kept up relations with people at Sony," Blow mentions. "At some point those discussions naturally turned to, hey, we're going to have a preliminary dev conference soon, do you want to be in there? And ... that was really good, and the ball started rolling."

We'll see whether or not The Witness will prove to be worth the cost of its development when it launches. There's no set release date yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it followed close behind the PlayStation 4 in the holiday 2013 window.

Source: PlayStation Blog

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