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N+ Developers talk XBLA: "There's like 100 games, and they're all shit." (plus more!)

Draft

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http://gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17960

Oh man, they get on pretty much everyone, but MS receives most of the slam jams.

Was there a lot of waiting around? That's what I've heard from some other people. I don't know if it's gotten smoother since then.

RB: We've been waiting a month and a half.

Mare Sheppard: Since it's been through cert, yeah.

NW: Yeah, that has been a bit of a wait.

That's what I was talking about. A month and a half is not too bad, compared to other stories I've heard, like three months and more.


RB: That's true. We actually dodged a bullet. The only reason why we weren't even more bumped is because we spent all kinds of money on the launch party, which was last week, because it was supposed to be coming out the week before. Also they're doing a postmortem [at GDC]... they are doing one of a game that isn't even out yet. [The game debuted on the Wednesday of GDC.]

NW: It's only by one day.

RB: The guy at Microsoft was like, "Because of those things, I was able to prevent you from being further bumped." It was like, "FYI, you could've been even more screwed!"

NW: This is where you really feel being small. You see this giant wave coming toward you and you can't do anything about it. You've got to move.
The thing that struck me I was hearing was that it sounded like he wanted to put the retail model into the downloads, where you don't get to try before you buy.

NW: No, I love the demo. I think the way it should work is that it forces the games to be good, because you can't just rely on marketing. Marketing will get people to download the demo, but it's not going to get people to pay for it.

Then again, when you look at how many games are selling, like, who's buying Pinball FX? How many games have you bought on Xbox Live Arcade, seriously?

RB: Doom, Geometry Wars, Pac-Man, and one more.

NW: Same here. I can count them on one hand.

RB: There are only five or six good games.

MS: You bought Carcassonne, didn't you?

RB: No, Carcassonne was free. There was one more that we bought. There are okay games, but like with Alien Hominid, we have the Gamecube version. A lot of the games that are worth getting on Live Arcade aren't the originals. Like Pac-Man CE, it's awesome. And Geometry Wars is really good.

NW: To come back to the demo, I've tried a lot of games.

RB: We've tried every... there's like 90 games on PartnerNet, and not a lot of them...

MS: Very few of them we'd purchase.

NW: Yeah. The whole "try the demo and buy your game or not" is the perfect system to weed out games that are shit. The problem is, on Xbox Live Arcade, like retail space, they limit it so much. They should open it up and let people go, you know?

Nintendo has been suggesting that WiiWare is going to be very open.


RB: That's what they said to us, but then they wouldn't explain how that works.
But I don't trust YouTube ratings or number of views or anything like that. If there were searching and tags and stuff, and if you could see what your friends like, that would be good.

NW: Which is part of why that's such a big deal in Xbox Live Arcade, seeing what your friends are playing and stuff like that.

RB: I think the thing with Live Arcade, though, is that I remember the last year and the year before. Two years ago was when we were first talking with Microsoft about doing it, it was really exciting, because Live Arcade had just came out, and they were like, "Oh, it's new. It's not going to be like retail. There's not going to be all this crap. There's going to be all these small, great, fun things."

But now it's exactly the same. There's all these big-budget ones with big publishers making them, and the real problem, I think, is that the same people who are deciding what retail games get greenlit are deciding what Live Arcade games get greenlit.

I guess it's because they have a lot of power that no one has pointed out that that's the primary reason. Those decisions that are ruining Live Arcade... it's like, who greenlit Word Puzzle? Who green-lit that hoverboard game that's just shit?

Nick has this racing...do you know Iron Man Off-Road Racing, like the old arcade game? It's four-player, and a little isometric. Nick made a racing game like that, and Microsoft was like, "Well, racing is too saturated on Live Arcade." But that's because they've greenlit like ten really shitty racing games. There's no good racing games.

They have that Yaris game.

RB: Oh my god. Exactly! That's the whole thing. They all suck. It's like, when we started out, we were excited, just like with N. There were 30 games on Live Arcade. If N was one of them, it would stand out. Now there's like a hundred games, and they're all shit.

MS: People are used to seeing crap on there.
Well, there's some stuff in there.

RB: Oh no, but there's a lot of like, "It's people walking out of a door!" because that was new then. But that's been superseded to the point where you can't do it anymore. I wish... was it you who came up with the idea? Like, why don't they split-fork it so that there's Live Arcade Retro and Live Arcade Original titles? That would eliminate 50 of the hundred things you have to support.

NW: I think that would help anyway. The way you sort through games right now is... they didn't change it.

RB: It's still better than Wii, where it takes five minutes to load each three games or whatever, and it doesn't remember where you were.

They also don't have a hard drive.

RB: Yeah, I don't know how WiiWare is going to work for that. That doesn't make any sense.
RB: That's another thing. We wanted to put our Gamerpics and themes, like the N+ ones, for free, because we figured, "Who even buys themes?" It's not worth 500 sales. Why not everyone have it for free?

Because then it's good as marketing, and it's people who are fans who get something. It's like, everyone wins. But apparently they have a policy where you're not allowed to. But apparently that's a lie, because you can get Halo...

MS: The Live Marketplace page says, "Some of these you can get for free, and some of these will set you back a few."

NW: You can get Halo themes for free and Grand Theft Auto themes for free.

RB: Oh, really?

I imagine the reason those are free is because Rockstar paid for free themes. I'm not sure.

MS: But it's not an option for us. Just blanket not an option. It's so superficial.

RB: It seems retarded to charge. Who buys those? Why not make it... how much money are they making? It's like a hundred dollars.

MS: Then again, I guess they're pretty desperate for money these days. (Dang :lol)

RB: If they changed the 60-watt bulbs in their offices to 40, they'll make like ten times more money than if they made all the themes for free.

NW: That's awesome. I like that.
And that's not even all the funny quotes. These guys deliver brutal real talk. I love it.
 

Visualante

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Mar 3, 2007
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If Peter Moore were still in office he'd do something about these atrocious events.

This is not the Jeff Bell I voted for.
 

Zombie James

Banned
Dec 28, 2005
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RB: That's another thing. We wanted to put our Gamerpics and themes, like the N+ ones, for free, because we figured, "Who even buys themes?" It's not worth 500 sales. Why not everyone have it for free?

Because then it's good as marketing, and it's people who are fans who get something. It's like, everyone wins. But apparently they have a policy where you're not allowed to. But apparently that's a lie, because you can get Halo...
Wow.
 

KTallguy

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I noticed this and was considering posting it.

This is kind of why I prefer Sony's "idea" of downloadable games more.

However, Sony needs:

1. At least 2 a month.
2. They both have to be really good.

Right now, the content comes a bit too slowly, and there are still shit games on PSN.

But I greatly prefer their process to "shame of the week" on XBLA.

And paying for themes is a crock of shit.
 

Stumpokapow

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May 21, 2006
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I've gotten a lot out of XBLA.

I haven't bought anything that hasn't been worthwhile. I have the Arcade SKU (got a hard drive for 50 bucks and a headset for 8) which came with 5 XBLA games and I bought the XBLA Compilation disc for like 8 bucks. Both were worth it, although I wouldn't buy most of the constituent games of either on their own.

In terms of stuff I've bought, Carcassone, Catan, Castlevania: SOTN, Doom (400 pts), Marble Blast Ultra, Bomberman, and Worms... everything has been worth it except Bomberman, and Bomberman would be worth it if my social circle was still actively playing it.

Paying for themes is a crock of shit, yes, but to be quite honest I don't give a fuck because most of the themes are gaudy as hell. I've never bought a gamerpic or a theme. I don't really know anyone who does and doesn't regret it later.

I'm sure from a dev perspective there are a lot of gripes with XBLA, but I've never had trouble finding games to buy. I've got a dozen or so games I'm interested in buying but haven't yet. Just go to Metacritic or an XBLA-specific site or read the GAF threads, and sorting the wheat from the chaff becomes easy. I guess the release schedule sort of means that sometimes the chaff overpowers the wheat, but if you just look at the backlog I don't think anyone is picking Shrek over good games.
 

AMUSIX

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I love that early on with Live, there were tons of complaints that the games weren't coming fast enough, that they should release more per week, and such.

Now the complaint is that there are too many games.

To say there are only a handful of good games on Live Arcade is pure BS. I'm sure most people here can deliver a list of a dozen good Live games, and there will be a lot of varying entries on those lists.

Yes, MS needs to separate new from retro, but neithher Sony nor Nintendo is doing it nearly as well as they are right now. That may change in the future, but I've seen so many interviews heralding WiiWare, and not a single one explaining how it will be better, or how it will get around the system's shortcomings.
 
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KTallguy said:
But I greatly prefer their process to "shame of the week" on XBLA.
But this is just reductive bullshit. That's like, no wait, that IS saying that every single game XBLA shovels out is garbage.

N+ was one of those "shames of the week" and is an absolutely fantastic game.
 

Mario

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I imagine the reason those are free is because Rockstar paid for free themes. I'm not sure.
Themes are free on retail games because Microsoft makes more revenue per retail title, so they can "afford" to give them away for free. They charge for them on XBLA titles so they can monetise those titles more.


AMUSIX said:
Yes, MS needs to separate new from retro, but neithher Sony nor Nintendo is doing it nearly as well as they are right now. That may change in the future, but I've seen so many interviews heralding WiiWare, and not a single one explaining how it will be better, or how it will get around the system's shortcomings.
Yeah, like in the other recent thread praising WiiWare and slamming XBLA. I really don't see that much difference between the two services at a high level - they are ultimately going to be facing exactly the same challenges.
 
Jun 25, 2006
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KTallguy said:
And paying for themes is a crock of shit.
People actually paying for themes and gamer pictures is an even bigger crime. They'll (generally speaking) never become free at this rate...
 

RiskyChris

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Feb 21, 2007
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Great article. This is why it's hard for me to take people seriously who say XBLA will completely revolutionize indie gaming potential.

It merely provides a step up for indie games, but there's so much beaurocracy and bean counting that not everyone gets a turn.

Steam is tip-toeing into providing support for indie games, but so far I have no reason to believe their model will be much better than MS's with XBLA (though I suspect the Steam indie devs will have a better pay model).

Hopefully this changes soon.
 

probune

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I own about 15 games on XBLA and I have to say that there's only about 5 or 6 that I don't regret spending money on, and two of them are available on other platforms (Lumines and Puzzle Quest).
 

KTallguy

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BenjaminBirdie said:
But this is just reductive bullshit. That's like, no wait, that IS saying that every single game XBLA shovels out is garbage.

N+ was one of those "shames of the week" and is an absolutely fantastic game.
No, I'm not saying that every game on XBLA is shit. There are a TON of good games, many more than PSN.

However the ratio is atrocious. Any given week, 4 times out of 5 it's crap. I feel like the time I waste on some of those demos I've downloaded should be paid back.
 

SA-X

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Its true that 90% of the games on xbla are pure shit, but so are 90% of retail games so I don't why people are surprised by that fact.
 
Jan 19, 2005
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RiskyChris said:
Great article. This is why it's hard for me to take people seriously who say XBLA will completely revolutionize indie gaming potential.

It merely provides a step up for indie games, but there's so much beaurocracy and bean counting that not everyone gets a turn.

Steam is tip-toeing into providing support for indie games, but so far I have no reason to believe their model will be much better than MS's with XBLA (though I suspect the Steam indie devs will have a better pay model).

Hopefully this changes soon.
Unfortunately I doubt that it will. It's become, as the interview sadly illustrates, just another typical retail platform. Money talks, unfortunately.
 
Jan 19, 2005
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KTallguy said:
No, I'm not saying that every game on XBLA is shit. There are a TON of good games, many more than PSN.

However the ratio is atrocious. Any given week, 4 times out of 5 it's crap. I feel like the time I waste on some of those demos I've downloaded should be paid back.
:lol

That I can agree with. I have also lost many a ten minutes of my life to a shitty, shitty demo.
 

pswii60

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Games might not be to everyone's tastes, but these are most certainly not "shit":

Alien Hominid
Castlevania: SOTN
Catan
Carcassone
Cloning Clyde
Doom
Eets: Chowdown
EXIT
Geometry Wars
Heavy Weapon
Jetpac Refuelled
Lumines Live
Marble Blast Ultra
Mutant Storm Empire
Mutant Storm Reloaded
N+
Omega Five
Pacman C.E.
Pinball FX
Prince of Persia Classic
Puzzle Fighter HD
Rez HD
Sonic the Hedgehog
Streets of Rage 2
Switchball
Uno
Zuma

EVERY single one of the games above I own, and every single one was well worth the money. So stop fucking saying all the fucking games on XBLfuckingA are shit, because they ain't.
 

plaidtopia

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I'm at the very top of the N+ love orgy and I certainly understand the developers having substantial beef with MS after the XBLA process and their whole custom level feature basically getting scrapped.

However.

XBLA ain't perfect by a long run, but to those GAFers jumping on this as a "proof" of XBLA's supposed "shitty" content: :lol

No game platform -- neither digital or physical -- is made of absolute gold. Sure, there's stinkers on there, but at least demos help to weed those out. I'd argue that XBLA has put forth more good/great original and proprietary games than any other current digital distribution method. PSN's got a higher success rate, but a far lower number of quality releases while the jury's still out on WiiWare.

That said, there's no question: Paying for themes/gamerpics is R.E.T.A.R.T.E.D.
 

pswii60

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BenjaminBirdie said:
I also love Assault Heroes. Really really love it.
Yeah, forgot to add that to my list. Those games in that list are from memory and then cleverly arranged in alphabetical order. I'm sure there's more, even stuff like Bejewelled has entertained my gf and I far more than Go! Ski or Go! Skydiving ever will.

EDIT: Remembered some more, like Gripshift (although I have that for PS3 instead), Poker Smash, Puzzle Quest, Sonic 2, Space Giraffe etc. Never mind all the upcoming stuff like Castle Crashers, Ikaruga etc.
 

Mario

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Seems to me like people are expecting something which

a) is an open conduit for indie content, free from restrictions and bureaucracy

b) has a supply of steady, consistently high quality content


You can't have both of those things at the same time.
 

Creamium

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BenjaminBirdie said:
I also love Assault Heroes. Really really love it.
yeah AH is awesome, hope more people buy it since it's now 400 pts. It's a blast in co-op. AH 2 also looks really, really promising.

I don't subscribe to this 'everything on xbla = crap' stuff either. All in all my time spent on xbla and retail games is pretty much 50/50, so that should say enough. I have about 20 games and pretty much all of them have been good purchases (or stuff I got for free because of that 'know someone with a 360?' deal.
 
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pswii60 said:
Yeah, forgot to add that to my list. Those games in that list are from memory and then cleverly arranged in alphabetical order. I'm sure there's more, even stuff like Bejewelled has entertained my gf and I far more than Go! Ski or Go! Skydiving ever will.
Oh, yeah, I figured.
 

soldat7

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RB said:
Oh my god. Exactly! That's the whole thing. They all suck. It's like, when we started out, we were excited, just like with N. There were 30 games on Live Arcade. If N was one of them, it would stand out. Now there's like a hundred games, and they're all shit.
Wow. I was just going to buy N+. I'll save my money for less arrogant developers.
 
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SolidSnakex said:
I wonder if they're doing this to try to get MS to let them out of the contract they supposedly have.
You mean the WiiWare part? Like trying to dangle it in front of them like "Heyyy, Nintendo want's to take us out to see Enchanted on Blu-Ray, MicroSoffft....better get us a nice ring, MicroSoft....."

Like that?
 

No6

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KTallguy said:
However the ratio is atrocious. Any given week, 4 times out of 5 it's crap. I feel like the time I waste on some of those demos I've downloaded should be paid back.
Even this isn't really true because you're putting XBLA into a binary Great/Crap selection. I'd agree that about 1/5 games are great and probably "worth more" than they are charged for, but it's more like 2/5 games are crap and 2/5 are pretty much spot-on with what they should cost ($5-10). And the last few weeks (well 2 and one empty week) have been really bad. REALLY bad. But go back to February and before and you'll see that this pattern holds true (or better): Feb had Triggerheart (decent, correctly priced), N+ (outstanding), Discs of Tron (barely correctly priced, willing to concede crap), Commanders (decent, correctly priced), and Poker Smash (outstanding).

January had Rez (outstanding), Chessmaster Live (decent), Boogie Bunnies (crap? unnecessary at least), Omega Five (decent), Tron (crap), and Metal Slug 3 (decent).

December had Tempest (crap), Sensi Soccer (outstanding or decent depending), Arkadian Warriors (barely decent), Gripshift (outstanding), and Spongebob (crap). And so on and so forth. It's really only that we just remember the times when we get a block of 2-3 weeks of garbage... like right now.
 
Jun 25, 2006
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Also: if developers really hate the idea of letting their customers pay for gamer pictures and / or themes because they're forced to, then they should include those in their games as unlockable content. Maybe that would send the right signals to Microsoft.
 

SolidSnakex

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BenjaminBirdie said:
You mean the WiiWare part? Like trying to dangle it in front of them like "Heyyy, Nintendo want's to take us out to see Enchanted on Blu-Ray, MicroSoffft....better get us a nice ring, MicroSoft....."

Like that?
Actually they've already said they want to develop for PSN. But they can't do it right now because of that contract.
 

SA-X

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Mario said:
Seems to me like people are expecting something which

a) is an open conduit for indie content, free from restrictions and bureaucracy

b) has a supply of steady, consistently high quality content

You can't have both of those things at the same time.
Yes, and instead we have neither. :p
 

Draft

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SolidSnakex said:
Actually they've already said they want to develop for PSN. But they can't do it right now because of that contract.
we don't have a PlayStation 3 yet.
Maybe they're also trying to get Sony to send them a free PS3. These guys have all the angles covered.
 

Rhindle

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The problem with XBLA isn't quality, it's organization.

Quality is largely very good - much more so than on any PC casual games portal. They just need to separate out the retro arcade stuff from the newer stuff, just generally have more categories and maybe community ratings to make it easier to browse and find stuff you'll like.

It wasn't a problem in the early days, but the volume of content has compounded the organization problem.
 

Mario

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SolidSnakex said:
Actually they've already said they want to develop for PSN. But they can't do it right now because of that contract.
Its quite possible (indeed likely) that N+ has some sort of timed exclusivity on XBLA. Its a lot less likely that they are unable to develop for another platform outright (unless Microsoft funded N+). If they signed such a contract, then they wouldn't have anyone to blame for such a restriction other than themselves.
 

SolidSnakex

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Draft said:
Maybe they're also trying to get Sony to send them a free PS3. These guys have all the angles covered.
It's a bit pointless for them right now since people were saying the contract they have with MS is for 2 years.
 

Draft

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SolidSnakex said:
It's a bit pointless for them right now since people were saying the contract they have with MS is for 2 years.
The contract won't even let them play PS3 games? Goddamn MS is like the Mafia.
 

KTallguy

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No6 said:
Even this isn't really true because you're putting XBLA into a binary Great/Crap selection.
Sure, that's fine. I'd say that anything that I don't think is fun enough to pay for/that I can play free on PC/that is an old port of a old game that's available in the west with no substantial improvement is a waste of space. I say that for MKII and Gauntlet on PSN too. Fuck these easy ports.

It's hard, because you want to give the user selection, but the menu on Live Arcade doesn't allow you to rate things, and there's no real guarantee that people will be exposed to the high quality games.

pswii60:

I was writing about how I felt about all the games you mentioned, but I figure that's counter productive, so I'll just say that 11 games out of the ones you mentioned are either extremely low quality and poor games in general (Cloning Clyde, wow...), ports of existing games that you're paying for again (Sonic, Doom, why am I paying for this?), or games you can play for free online (Zuma, UNO).

I'm not saying you have bad taste, but yea... I think I just don't purchase games unless I know they're good quality and an experience I can't get anywhere else.
 
Nov 17, 2006
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For however much truth there is in what they've said here (and there's a lot all over the place), they really shouldn't have done this. They're too small to be taking shots like this at everyone.
 

Draft

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Segata Sanshiro said:
For however much truth there is in what they've said here (and there's a lot all over the place), they really shouldn't have done this. They're too small to be taking shots like this at everyone.
They are PC developers. They owe no allegiance to any console manufacturer. This is a luxury of the PC developer. Absolute truth, free from the binds of platform slavery. It is beautiful.