Whenever new consoles are announced, it's all too easy to get swept up in the excitement for the higher-end games that push cutting-edge hardware to their limits, delivering visuals and experiences not possible with previous machines.
But it's important to consider the implications for smaller independent developers, whose role in the success of PlayStation and Xbox has changed over the past two generations.
During the Xbox 360 generation, Microsoft was heralded as the champion for indies with its Xbox Live Arcade, enabling developers to sell shorter and cheaper experiences directly to consumers in a way that retail -- the then-dominant distribution channel -- never allowed for such titles. As Microsoft's attention waned, Sony and its Strategic Content team picked up the baton, bringing acclaimed indie titles such as Hotline Miami to PS3 and Vita, and giving them pride of place as PS4 approached.
Over the course of the past generation, this has again shifted back toward Microsoft with its [email protected] initiative, although indies continued to fare well on both PS4 and Xbox One as digital distribution has matured. And with Microsoft pushing the number of indie titles available through Xbox Game Pass, plus the handful that launched on day one for Xbox Series X|S last week, the company seems keen to be seen as the champion for indies -- at least for the time being.