Charles Cecil: ‘The PS1 destroyed the first UK indie golden age’

British games industry legend Charles Cecil says that the first PlayStation led to the death of the UK indie sector during the 1990s.

The founder of Broken Sword studio Revolution was providing advice from his 35 years working in games development at this month’s Interface event in London, which is taking place today (November 12th).

The time of Broken Sword 2 was a golden era for British developers,” Cecil reminisced. We had Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Worms. The UK led the world in non-console games at the time.

What brought everything to an end was the PlayStation in 1996. It inadvertently destroyed the indie scene the first time around. Because it was so successful, all of the retailers wanted to stock non-PC games. Not only did the cost of games escalate, but it was all about visceral 3D games.”

Cecil said that Apple’s App Store ushered in a second golden age for smaller British game makers, and recalled the beneficial effect of partnering with Apple on a sales promotion for the remastered release of Broken Sword on iOS.

Everything changed in 2007 with the iPhone,” he recounted.

The App Store effectively had an infinite storefront, which meant the barrier to entry no longer existed for younger developers. Everything changed.

We had a second golden era for indie developers. For a time, Flick Soccer was beating FIFA. It was insane.”

He continued: We were invited by Apple to be part of 12 Games of Christmas.”

Deep down, I really felt worried about it, but when Apple asks you to do something like this, you don’t say no.

We got 2.5 million downloads on one day, and Broken Sword went into the Top Ten most Tweeted keywords in the world.

We had launched Broken Sword 2 a few days before. Even when the deal had ended, sales of Broken Sword rocketed the next day – not only did it go up, but Broken Sword 2 went up, as well. Our sales went up by about six because we’d given it away.

It was contradictory to everything I’d learnt about retail to that point.”

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