LittleBigPlanet PS Vita dev moves past Sackboy into indie game publishing

Media Molecule is the brain, the heart, and the soul of Sony’s LittleBigPlanet series, but last year’s excellent LittleBigPlanet PS Vita wasn’t wholly theirs. That game was a collaboration between Tarsier Studios on level design for the single player campaign, and the UK’s Double Eleven. Double Eleven was responsible for getting the original PS3 LittleBigPlanet running on the PS Vita in the first place, and it also was responsible for expanding that game’s toolset and more for the handheld game. The studio, young as it may be, is capable, artful, and clearly talented. Its next venture, though, will be helping other capable, artful, and talented developers get their games to the public, as Double Eleven is becoming a publisher.

“We will be expanding into marketing and distributing our own games, and of other indie studios’ games,” reads an announcement at Double Eleven’s homepage, “Initially, we will be using the PlayStation Network as our main distribution platform, supporting both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita formats.”

Double Eleven goes on to explain that it feels that though independent developers have ample representation on PC, Android, and iOS, the PSN is still a relatively untapped market.

“Being sympathetic to the process of making a game allows us to work with developers in a more fair and reasonable manner than they may have experienced elsewhere. Self-publishing our own titles also allows us to pick the projects our staff would like to work on.”

Double Eleven’s ambitions are noble, but the PSN is an unusual choice for a publisher looking to protect the integrity of both independent publishers and their intellectual property. Limbo developer Playdead initially released its debut game as an Xbox 360 exclusive rather than on Sony’s PlayStation 3, because Sony wanted ownership of the property after the fact. “We had issues when we were trying to sign Limbo because of the IP,” admitted Sony Computer Entertainment producer Pete Smith in a Develop Conference talk last year. Sony wanted control of the Limbo IP, and so the game went to XBLA, then Steam, and finally Sony’s console.

Sony has spent much of the past five years growing its relationship with independent developers though, and it’s aggressively pursuing devs to develop content for PSN. In December it signed Velocity developer FuturLab to make Vita games. Double Eleven’s history with Sony on a first-party published game combined with Sony’s changing attitude’s may help the new publisher find its footing on PSN.

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