• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

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

sneaky77

Member
Jan 15, 2008
8,245
1
0
ickingfudiot said:
There's a lot of gems on the service, I'd never agree that "all the games are shit" but there's also a lot of crap on there and no real way to filter out the good from the bad since everything is just lumped together.

Isn't it the same way in the stores? I mean, how can you filter other than by reviews and other gamers opinions... is always been that way, are they supposed to have like want crappy games click here option? It doesn't make sense that is all lumped together, if the game is good people will find it.

And yes, I agree they need to a much better job in other areas, like getting more games up on a weekly basis or however they want to do it. And hopefully that is something they are working on, but this kinda service on consoles is kind of new, so growing pains happen.
 

ickingfudiot

Member
Jul 29, 2007
550
0
0
San Diego, CA
sneaky77 said:
Isn't it the same way in the stores? I mean, how can you filter other than by reviews and other gamers opinions... is always been that way, are they supposed to have like want crappy games click here option? It doesn't make sense that is all lumped together, if the game is good people will find it.

And yes, I agree they need to a much better job in other areas, like getting more games up on a weekly basis or however they want to do it. And hopefully that is something they are working on, but this kinda service on consoles is kind of new, so growing pains happen.

You could make that argument, but I'd say that it's a lot easier to sift through offerings at Best Buy than for your average consumer to scroll through the massive list of XBLA games to find something interesting. They could separate out ports from original titles at least.

XBLA seems more akin to one of those giant bins of discount titles at Walmart or something where you have to sort through a mountain of junk to find the good stuff hidden deep inside.
 

sneaky77

Member
Jan 15, 2008
8,245
1
0
ickingfudiot said:
You could make that argument, but I'd say that it's a lot easier to sift through offerings at Best Buy than for your average consumer to scroll through the massive list of XBLA games to find something interesting. They could separate out ports from original titles at least.

XBLA seems more akin to one of those giant bins of discount titles at Walmart or something where you have to sort through a mountain of junk to find the good stuff hidden deep inside.

They are divided by category... i don't think is that bad. But yes it could be better. I still don't think they are going about things the right way.
 

Psychotext

Member
Jun 15, 2007
35,928
0
1,175
I'd be very surprised if anyone actually browses the XBLA titles looking for games. Most purchases I know of either come from word of mouth, reviews or advertising.
 

RSLAEV

Member
Apr 5, 2006
3,339
33
1,465
Well I definitely agree with his stance on themes, those totally need to be free, and fully customizable.
 

Mr Killemgood

Member
Oct 29, 2006
566
0
0
ickingfudiot said:
This guy knows what he's talking about.

The N+ guys got carried away bashing XBLA titles, but a lot of their original post was pretty spot on. If you've dealt at all with XBLA from the developer standpoint (especially trying to publish independently), it's a bit of a nightmare. We were looking at a 6 month delay minimum from the time we'd certify to our game's release if we published on XBLA because the pipeline is so clogged with retro ports and the like. There's a lot of gems on the service, I'd never agree that "all the games are shit" but there's also a lot of crap on there and no real way to filter out the good from the bad since everything is just lumped together.

The important thing with XBLA is that the current setup just doesn't justify itself financially for a lot of teams, and I think what the N+ guys rightfully question (if a bit un-tactfully) is whether or not the abundance of low-quality titles on the service hurts sales of the truly good ones that have been mentioned time and again in this very thread. Look at Mr. Killemgood's numbers - there's 11 million XBLA accounts but a blockbuster selling title like Geometry Wars has sold in the range of ~600,000 units (depending on who you listen to). Most titles unless they're retro ports or UNO seem to sell in the 100,000-300,000 range. The gross profits seem okay but once you take out Microsoft's cut, the publisher's cut, and any other factors there's really not a whole lot there for the developer. Contrast that to how much you pull down going full retail (where you've got a much bigger audience for whatever reason) and you can do "okay" on sales and make more in the end. Something to think about when you wonder why a game isn't an XBLA or PSN title - I know a lot of developers that would love to churn out high quality, small titles on those services but it just doesn't make sense financially, at least not yet, and the royalties increase on XBLA certainly didn't help things.

And thats the issue. From a developer's standpoint, Microsoft just isn't doing what it could (at very little cost to incur themselves), to increase consumer spending on the XBLA service. And that, exactly, is the problem.

The attach ratio for XBLA titles is blindingly low - about 1.5-1.8 games per Live user, and about 2.5 for those users that actually utilize the Arcade service. And that's jaw-droppingly low. We're talking about a system that's broken any and all Attach Ratios, in a similar timeframe. Retail copy games attach at 7.0 - and Arcade is much, much lower, despite the much, much lower price.

And the fact is, MS has, since it's inception, not done a single thing to "weed out" titles and the content of the titles. It's pretty much a jungle for users to navigate through, to hopefully find, and buy, a title. That's why known IPs have done much better than totally unique IPs. I believe N+'s succuess wasn't in the fact it's ultra-unique, but the fact that it had a huge built-in install base of the N Fanbase...Those that played N knew it was coming out, knew what was contained in it, and converted readily to the purchasing base.

Look at the top titles this year (titles released this year), as of 3/22/08 (sans BC, which is today's #s):

Rez HD 108,910
Metal Slug 3 84,871
N+ 79,022
Poker Smash 46,862
Brain Challenge 46,284 (as of today)


Notice something about the top titles? Rez, MS, N+ and Brain Challenge all have titles in the retail field. Why does that matter? Those given titles have a built-in purchase base that knew the titles were coming out...Even though some hate MS3, the fact is, the people that like that sort of game knew it was coming out, and bought it up quickly.

The only title outside of my given list, Poker Smash, was highly anticipated, and alot of people were interested in it even last year.

And knowing these kind(s) of numbers makes developers upset sometimes, because you have titles like Commanders selling maybe 1/4th of what the top-5 have so far, despite it being a good game. Why didn't it sell great? Not everyone has heard of an art-deco 20's Strategy game...And fewer want to buy it, even if it IS that great (ala Undertow).


So what can Microsoft do? IMO, the first, most critical thing is actually advertising the d*** thing. Despite XBLA grossing about the same amount of money a 2 million-unit selling full price game has (about $125m USD), there's been how much money put into marketing? Certainly not enough. Microsoft, from PR statements, has said that 60% of Live users have bought an arcade title. That's absolutely pathetic... That number should be 85-90%, as that's the number (estimated, nonetheless) of HDD-Owning X360 users.

The next thing, which is easy too, is improve the UI for Arcade, with possibly a new exclusive Dashboard Blade. There's nothing worse than truding through Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory Exclusive Theme Pack on the Marketplace just to find a new Arcade title. If it's so important (which Arcade is), it needs a easy-to-navigate UI Marketplace, only for Arcade games, and one that users can sort through with Top Sellers, New Games, and Hits - WITH BOXART. Just simply having a name really doesn't help - unless your Uno, or some other easy-to-understand game name (Hold'Em Poker, 3d Golf, PinBall FX - all of which were top-sellers the years they were released).

And of course, one can say the 150mb cap, and the other smaller things, but the UI and advertising are the most important. The Arcade is one of the most fantastic, revolutionary things for Console Gaming, and quite possibly the most definitive thing of this generation (moreso that the WiiMote, since that's on one system, DL Games are on all next-gen systems)...Why not pimp it out and promote the thing?
 

Robert R1

Banned
Sep 14, 2007
313
0
0
There is a major retail and marketing push behind full games. XBLA does not get any of that. For most gamers (people who are not on gaming sites such as gaf!) the XBLA collection isn't in their face. They have to try it out for curiosity or retro titles based off nostalgia. Many of my friends still have no clue that XBLA even exits or what it is!

Releasing a major game or two on XBLA with a proper marketing push would go a long way to giving XBLA proper attention.
 

sneaky77

Member
Jan 15, 2008
8,245
1
0
So is Microsoft responsible for the marketing or are developers not able to market their own games when they are released?
 

Mr Killemgood

Member
Oct 29, 2006
566
0
0
The developers are able to market the games themselves...

The issue is, if XBLA is designed as a low-cost independant type of service, with very few "big budget" games, where are these companies going to be able to get the hundreds of thousands of dollars required for such marketing a game properly?

If an XBLA game costs.........$200,000 to make, how much are they, for all practical purposes, going to be able to spend on marketing? $25,000? $50,000? What exactly is that much money going to get you for marketing, really?

Thats why MS needs to step in, and spend a few million USD promoting the service. Thats why certain games have sold well - they don't need the big marketing pushes, because they have good built-in user bases. And that's exactly why MS needs to partner with them.
 

buhmachine

Banned
Oct 30, 2006
206
0
0
like he's one to talk. N is pretty shit. sure, it's difficult, its enemies are ruthless and unpredictable, but the constant back-and-forth is boring as fuck.
 

avatar299

Banned
Jun 9, 2007
8,902
0
0
sneaky77 said:
So is Microsoft responsible for the marketing or are developers not able to market their own games when they are released?
The publisher should be responsible for marketing the game...but maybe MS should market the service. Even Nintendo has released WiiWare ads.
 

radjago

Member
Feb 7, 2006
2,652
0
1,425
D8N, OH
sneaky77 said:
So is Microsoft responsible for the marketing or are developers not able to market their own games when they are released?
I think this is the biggest problem. They have too many games and they're trying to fit them into this narrow channel of 2-per week release schedule, so even devs probably don't know exactly when their title will be released until a week or so beforehand, which isn't enough time to market it or get preview hype you would for a retail game launch that's planned months in advance. The lack of marketing external to the service speaks to the flat growth rate of XBLA sales. They're selling to the people who are already online and excited about XBLA instead of bringing in a new audience from the outside. XBLA would be ripe for a blue ocean style marketing push to expand the audience. If my 70 grandma was excited enough about the Wii to track one down and buy one and get it hooked up online, then Microsoft should be able to foster the same kind of excitement for their product with the right strategy.
 

SapientWolf

Trucker Sexologist
Jul 4, 2004
35,710
0
0
radjago said:
The lack of marketing external to the service speaks to the flat growth rate of XBLA sales. They're selling to the people who are already online and excited about XBLA instead of bringing in a new audience from the outside.
I think MS relies on word of mouth and the long tail to drive XBLA sales. So they need to take a page from Amazon and incorporate reviews, ranking, and recommendations into the interface. If someone looks up Geometry Wars they should see Mutant Storm and Robotron under recommended games. You should be able to see aggregated statistics on what people are buying so you can easily find what is popular.

But I agree that they need to also increase general awareness about XBLA in general. XBLA needs it own content rich blade. That feature is long overdue.
 

haowan

Member
Aug 23, 2006
1,036
0
0
London
www.greatgamesexperiment.com
/o\

Minter was upset about bad sales. This has nothing to do with success or failure of an individual game, it's a critique of the overall service, which is blatantly in need of improvement particularly in light of the recent royalty adjustment. MS have said that they're examining methods of getting more indies on the service without publishers (some kind of funding or perhaps advance royalty deal, who knows), I'm still waiting for them to announce more on that.
 

bj00rn

Banned
Jul 6, 2007
325
0
0
haowan said:
it's a critique of the overall service

..."There's like 100 games, and they're all shit."

What they meant or not, doesn't really matter after such a eye-openingly disrespectful statement to both other developers who creates XBLA games and to gamers who enjoy them. And everything else coming out of their mouths at this time is meaningless. It's their own undermining, not anyone else's. And if they actually have other points to get across I recommend them to keep the volume down until things calm down and bitterness goes away.
 

aku:jiki

Member
Jun 7, 2004
11,076
0
0
Mr Killemgood said:
The attach ratio for XBLA titles is blindingly low - about 1.5-1.8 games per Live user, and about 2.5 for those users that actually utilize the Arcade service. And that's jaw-droppingly low. We're talking about a system that's broken any and all Attach Ratios, in a similar timeframe. Retail copy games attach at 7.0 - and Arcade is much, much lower, despite the much, much lower price.
I think part of the problem lies with the consumer, though. I'm a major XBLA junkie and, as one, you have no idea how many times I've been told to "play some REAL games" by a pimple-faced 17-y/o who checked my games list. The consumer attitude right now seems, to me at least, to be that downloadable games are "for losers." They're not in lush 3D and most of them aren't even about killing people, hence they're "not cool."

On top of that, the "perceived luxury" aspect isn't exactly new. If something's cheap, people are going to assume it sucks. If a game looks "cheap" (read: not as filled with technical wizardry as Gears of War), people are going to assume that the game sucks. It's like the race for having the most expensive sneakers in 4th grade, except most people seem to never really grow out of that phase.

I guess my theory may sound superficial and stupid...which, actually, is why it makes sense. That's how people are!

Mr Killemgood said:
So what can Microsoft do? IMO, the first, most critical thing is actually advertising the d*** thing. Despite XBLA grossing about the same amount of money a 2 million-unit selling full price game has (about $125m USD), there's been how much money put into marketing? Certainly not enough. Microsoft, from PR statements, has said that 60% of Live users have bought an arcade title. That's absolutely pathetic... That number should be 85-90%, as that's the number (estimated, nonetheless) of HDD-Owning X360 users.
Despite what I wrote above, I don't think it's impossible for attitudes to change (at least slightly), and I agree that marketing from MS needs to be the next step.

I really don't understand why they haven't made any attempts. MS seems quite proud of XBLA and they always take the time to bring it up at press conferences, love sending out bragging PR's about it and they have several employees pimping the service on the web all the time. But they refuse to actually spend real money on it. I don't understand how that works.

avatar299 said:
Yeah they said it in a bad way, but everyone understood what they were saying. You just purposely ignored it and focused on something easy to attack.
Yes, I'm the only one in this thread who reacted to the way they said things. You clearly know what you're talking about and should obviously be listened to!

Slavik81 said:
Years later, we have a million uninspired cash ins on the success of Geometry Wars (which, while fun, is derivative enough already).
That isn't even close to true. Crystal Quest is a remake of a game that predates Geometry Wars by like 15 years, and Mutant Storm Reloaded was out before GW (on the PC). The problem, if there is one, is that whoever's the portfolio manager for the XBLA division likes Robotron-alikes a little too much, not that they're "cash-ins."

This clashes pretty hard with the "that genre slot is full" attitude. How is like 3 racing games too much, when there's a billion Robotron-alikes on the same service? Not to mention the zillion block-puzzlers. There seems to be some dangerously subjective favoritism going on in the XBLA offices, when it comes to genres.

As for cashing in, the only set trend seems to be that Uno paved the way for other card and board games. And that's a trend I can live with.
 

Mr Killemgood

Member
Oct 29, 2006
566
0
0
Eh...

From what I've seen from Nintendo's Virtual Console, and Sony's Playstation Network numbers...Their attach ratios are just about at the same rate as XBLA. So I don't think it's an "additude" thing.

It's just that people don't know the friggin' thing is there. Why is it that Xbox Live Arcade: Unplugged (Vol. 1) can sell 100,000 units in the UK alone?
 

Gaaraz

Member
Jul 19, 2007
3,306
1
1,095
Just something really simple like letting users give XBLA games a basic rating between 1-5 would help no end I think, and then the option to view the top rated of the past week, month, year etc. I know it'll never happen because it'll stop people buying the worst games, but personally I'm overwhelmed by the number of titles on XBLA, especially since most I've tried demos for have been pretty rubbish, so I've all but given up on it now unless it's a game I already know about like Rez or N.
 

Psychotext

Member
Jun 15, 2007
35,928
0
1,175
blizeH said:
Just something really simple like letting users give XBLA games a basic rating between 1-5 would help no end I think, and then the option to view the top rated of the past week, month, year etc. I know it'll never happen because it'll stop people buying the worst games, but personally I'm overwhelmed by the number of titles on XBLA, especially since most I've tried demos for have been pretty rubbish, so I've all but given up on it now unless it's a game I already know about like Rez or N.
Good, Great, Godly. :lol
 

Starchasing

Member
Sep 11, 2006
3,921
0
0
McBradders said:
User feedback, charts viewable from the dashboard and... and... and some marketing.

Make it happen Microsoft.

I wonder why not many people have talked about "My Nintendo Channel".

It allows people to rate the games they have played and recommend them to a certain type of public. It also provides more info with images and videos about Wii and DS games
 

xblarcade

Member
Sep 29, 2006
525
0
1,090
Toronto
Mr Killemgood said:
It's just that people don't know the friggin' thing is there. Why is it that Xbox Live Arcade: Unplugged (Vol. 1) can sell 100,000 units in the UK alone?

Not doubting you, where is that number from?