As it turns out, Vlambeer signed an exclusive one month debut with Sony because that was the only way Nuclear Throne would be accepted onto the ID@Xbox program w/o having to do a simultaneous XB1/PS4 launch.
Much more at the link.
Indie developers in the Xbox One publishing program, ID@Xbox, get two console development kits, a Unity license and the opportunity to self-publish their games – in return, Microsoft asks that the games launch same-day on Xbox One and other console platforms. Launch parity, rather than exclusivity.
Building a game for multiple launch platforms can be hazardous for indie developers, transferring energy from building games to bureaucracy, Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail tells Joystiq. When Vlambeer learned about Microsoft's launch parity clause, it immediately contacted Sony to set up launch exclusivity on PS4 for its next-gen game Nuclear Throne.
"Microsoft was doing reach-out to certain developers back in the early days of ID@XBOX, and we discussed potentially bringing Nuclear Throne to Xbox One with them," Ismail says. "There had been mentions beforehand that there was a launch parity clause in the contract, with the exception of games that were already signed to another platform during the announcement of their self-publishing program. Thus, before we signed with Microsoft, we e-mailed Sony that we quickly wanted to sign Nuclear Throne with them with a month of exclusivity."
This move wasn't out of spite for Microsoft, Ismail says, and Nuclear Throne is slated for both PS4 and Xbox One – it'll just hit PS4 first.
"Honestly, we've had enough trouble with our promise for a simultaneous release for Luftrausers, so by getting rid of parity we'd be able to focus on one platform for Nuclear Throne first. We also liked that we got to honor our long and super-pleasant cooperation with the people at Sony that way."
This is a pretty funny loophole, and could explain all the "exclusive launch" wording we saw at Gamescom.
Update: Vlambeer guy tha_rami stopped by the thread to explain more:
As for those tweets earlier tonight, I posted that because I genuinely had a good talk with Chris Charla. It wasn't awkward or upset, just congratulations with the announcements and some talk about the whole thing that went down. After that, we switched back to talking future plans and Nuclear Throne. It was super pleasant, especially considering we had just semi-broken NDA (apparently Microsoft had already mentioned launch parity before, so I guess legally we're fine anyway) and told them how that deal came to be.
If Microsoft had thrown any threats around, you'd be reading about those in the press right now. We really don't take lightly to legal nonsense like that. If we gave at all about Microsoft getting upset we would not have mentioned that story at all, but we don't, really. We care about letting the indie developer scene know what string are attached to which deal. If Sony ever turns sour, we'll let you know. If OUYA is being a pain, we'll let you know. We like transparency. Our whole involvement at ID@Xbox is trying to go through the gauntlet to let developers know what's what. So far, with the exception of the parity clause, our experiences have been quite positive.
You got to hand Chris that compared to the situation a year ago it's sort of amazing that at this point we're talking specific points of improvement over 'well, Microsoft is anti-indie'. The thing is that Chris Charla genuinely cares about indie games. We've been quite happy with how things at ID@Xbox are going so far, we received our dev-kits last week and the team has been super responsive and pro-active. We obviously don't have the level of trust with them that we have with Sony (and it might be that we never will, because we really love Shuhei, Adam, Shahid, Nick and their teams at Sony) - but we do trust that the folks at the ID@Xbox program are trying to do the right thing here. We don't know what caused this particular clause in the contract, but we do believe (and this is based on nothing) that if they could get rid of it, they would.
We'll continue to argue with Microsoft to try and convince them to drop launch parity, because it'd be a shame if we could only release future titles through ID@Xbox through a contractual exception to be negotiated on a case-per-case basis. It would be stupid if games have to be delayed on one platform because of another. It is wrong for a platform to think that they have the position to affect, by default, how someone does business with another platform. If somehow, they can be convinced to drop that, that'd remove one of the really problematic aspects of the program.
In the meanwhile, we're also just really happy that Nuclear Throne is doing so well on Steam Early Access and working with the amazing team at Sony to get LUFTRAUSERS to Vita and PS3 and Nuclear Throne to PS4 and Vita. For Nuclear Throne, it's nice that we now have the time to develop the game properly for all platforms, including Xbox One.
In the end, it does seem that openness is always the best option, but instead of simply slamming ID@Xbox as a bad program for this one clause, we like to see if we can improve those sort of flaws from the inside. As you noticed we do feel we have the moral obligation to be open about our experiences if those affect others in any way. In the end, we do want to see ID@Xbox succeed. We want games on there to be successful. But we don't want them to be successful because of Microsoft, we want them to be successful for the indie scene. The more available development platforms that treat indie developers as a serious part of their business, the better. While there are some flaws left, ID@Xbox is a really, really big step in that direction.
Basically, the reason I'm typing this is because ID@Xbox isn't "all bad" and I just felt it'd be fair to at least offer that perspective for a moment.
That's all for fireside talking with grandpa Rami about indie games today, I guess. I'd love to spend some more time on GAF, but making games as a two-man team sort of confines me to one social medium (and that ended up being my Twitter) and my metric ton of e-mail. If anybody has any questions or so, feel free to throw them that way. We love this place and super-thank you for all the support over the years <3