Xbox One vs. Indies: Microsoft Bullies Developers Into Signing with Publishers

#1
To explain why, I caught up with Brian Provinciano, who released the game Retro City Rampage on damned near every service and console there is. He gave an illuminating talk about what he learned from the experience, and he’s become an outspoken critic of Microsoft’s policies. His platform summary for Xbox Live Arcade was short, and to the point: “Most expensive, a bottleneck, damaged PR, hindered other platforms’ success.”

“Self-publishing basically means that the developer can release their game directly to the stores without a middleman,” Provinciano explained. “We're able to sign straight distribution agreements with them, we get a simple revshare, and that's that.” The problem is that Microsoft does not allow developers to self-publish, you have to have a third-party publisher, or you can be published by Microsoft Studios.

So you have to pitch Microsoft Studios if you want to be on Xbox Live Arcade, and the negotiations and contract portion of this process can take six to nine months, according to Provinciano, if not more.

“Like any publisher, Microsoft Studios takes more from you than a simple platform revshare,” he said. “In addition to their publisher cut, Microsoft Studios also requires at minimum a timed exclusivity, so you won't be able to release on other platforms day one.”

So you end up with less of the revenue for yourself, Microsoft gets a cut as the publisher and the platform holder, and you have to be exclusive to the platform for a set amount of time. Or you can go through a third-party publisher, since Microsoft will only allow companies that release retail games to have slots on Xbox Live.
http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/...bullies-developers-into-signing-with-publishe

More at the link.
 
#3
Since people don't want to put down their pitchforks quite yet I at least hope this will be their next agenda. Awful, awful attitude towards developers, the ones that are actually keeping your platform alive and attractive.
 

Cerrius

You like me, you really really like me!
#6
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?
 
#7
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?

The issue of self-publishing has nothing to do with quality control and everything to do with control of the developers and their games by corporations.
 
#8
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?
but it wouldn't matter if that happened as generally the good stuff always floats to the top
 

davepoobond

you can't put a price on sparks
#9
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?
i actually am more of that mindset, personally. i dont want waves of crapware flooding the store "just because."

but it doesnt necessarily mean you get "quality" out of doing what MS is doing right now.


but it wouldn't matter if that happened as generally the good stuff always floats to the top
only if the store is built to support that. most likely it wouldnt be.
 
#10
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?
Not letting games self publish isn't the same as allowing every game ever on a system. Sony and MS can still say "no thanks, we don't want that on our platform" AND allow devs to self publish.
 
#12
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?
As long as the store has a good tag and search system I'm OK with more choice.

There's plenty of random shit on Steam that I will never buy but I can easily find the stuff I want.
 
#13
That's fine, indie publishers can still prove there worth on other platforms some more popular some less so. If I'm buying a X1 it isn't, because of indie support. It's still sad how XBox 360 opened the doors voor indies on consoles, but they never capitalized on it and now Nintendo and Sony have gone the extra mile.
 
#14
That's fine, indie publishers can still prove there worth on other platforms some more popular some less so. If I'm buying a X1 it isn't, because of indie support. It's still sad how XBox 360 opened the doors voor indies on consoles, but they never capitalized on it and now Nintendo and Sony have gone the extra mile.
It should help that the marketplace is not divided anymore and region free :p
 
#15
I don't doubt that MS have some incredibly backward thinking requirements, but his games lack of success on other platforms is probably more to do with the fact that it's simply not very good.
 
#17
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?

Considering the hot topic the last few weeks has been about developers getting money for their creations, all MS's policies do is reduce that money.
 
#21
Let me play devil's advocate here....

I think the fact that Microsoft has a degree of quality control is great. Do we really need Xbox Live to transform into another iOS app store with tons and tons of shovelware?
If quality is a focus for Microsoft, then why charge an exorbitant amount of money for indies to fix their games?
 
#22
Microsoft has always been very picky about the indie games they let on XBLA, and because of this they've discovered some fantastic games that have been great successes and sold much better than anything i've been able to find about PSN game numbers (not much data available that i've been able to see).

I wish they were less selective in some ways, i'd have loved the Oddworld games and others on XBLA etc for example, I think if they're not prepared to be as open as PSN is, they should at least try to be less restrictive.
 
#23
I don't doubt that MS have some incredibly backward thinking requirements, but his games lack of success on other platforms is probably more to do with the fact that it's simply not very good.
Pretty much. Honestly, as much as damage as MS has inflicted upon themselves for waiting so long to reveal their X1 indie plans and changes to publishing on XBL 3.0, I think it's probably going to be end up being similar to everything else out there. Perhaps the main reason for them taking so long to officially address it has to do with trying to offer both a bottom rung path for those just starting out, like a new XNA/XBIG approach, where there is no forced ratings to factor into costs and much less certification, while also working out a higher tier for big publishers and independent developers that allows them flexibility for pricing and promotion. How are they going to solve longstanding issues that plague all DD marketplaces with options that grant greater visibility that don't end up in the pockets of those who are already successful and known, leaving everyone else to be forgotten?
 
#24
Steam Greenlight is the most hostile process an indie studio can go through right now, so no, Steam is absolutely not.
Care to elaborate?

I thought it plays a minor role in the Steam indie scene, as far as I can tell the bulk of the games don't even come from that channel.
 
#25
Microsoft has always been very picky about the indie games they let on XBLA, and because of this they've discovered some fantastic games that have been great successes and sold much better than anything i've been able to find about PSN game numbers (not much data available that i've been able to see).

I wish they were less selective in some ways, i'd have loved the Oddworld games and others on XBLA etc for example, I think if they're not prepared to be as open as PSN is, they should at least try to be less restrictive.
All of those discoveries end up being completely pissed off at them.

Take Braid and Fez for example. They'll probably never go back on XBL again.
 

TheD

The Detective
#26
Some people are clearly missing the point.

This is about MS needing devs to have a publisher and not allowing them to self publish.
This has nothing to do with making XBL like the iOS app store.
 
#28
All of those discoveries end up being completely pissed off at them.

Take Braid and Fez for example. They'll probably never go back on XBL again.
I know that, but what happens if they don't have the same success elsewhere? There will always be plenty of developers for Microsoft to choose from in that sense and discover new games, im not concerned.
 
#30
Some people are clearly missing the point.

This is about MS needing devs to have a publisher and not allowing them to self publish.
This has nothing to do with making XBL like the iOS app store.
But this only applies to X360 and has been known for years. They haven't revealed their plans for X1 yet, so people have been presuming that it will be the same.
 
#31
All indie games must come through Greenlight if I'm not mistaken.
Yeah, you can't even cheat your way in afaik if you get a publisher at a later date. The selection of games isn't what's quality checked anymore, but what studio has the best pre-release marketing aimed at a really specific group of people.
 
#34
I know that, but what happens if they don't have the same success elsewhere? There will always be plenty of developers for Microsoft to choose from in that sense and discover new games, im not concerned.
They were already going to be successful before Microsoft screwed them.

Any other place would have been better for them.
 
#35
But this only applies to X360 and has been known for years. They haven't revealed their plans for X1 yet, so people have been presuming that it will be the same.
Actually...

Limitations imposed by Microsoft have prevented a number of games from ever appearing on Xbox 360. And apparently, Xbox One won't change how Microsoft approaches indie games.

When asked if developers will still need a publisher to get content onto Xbox Live, Matt Booty, general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms, told us that "as of right now, yes. We intend to continue to court developers in the ways that we have."

He did add that "I would also expect that for this new generation, that we're going to continue to explore new business models and new ways of surfacing content. But Microsoft Studios is a publisher that works with a wide range of partners, as do a lot of other people, to bring digital content to the box."
http://www.shacknews.com/article/79309/xbox-one-wont-allow-indies-to-self-publish-games
 
#36
Steam Greenlight is the most hostile process an indie studio can go through right now, so no, Steam is absolutely not.
Why?

Before greenlight somebody at Valve decided yay or nay without any kind of explanation.

Now, there are answers. Public interest beeing the most important.

Look at Unepic for example.
 
#39
They were already going to be successful before Microsoft screwed them.

Any other place would have been better for them.
Sony do a poor job in my opinion of promoting PSN games, we will see when these developers release their PSN games on PS4 if they have the same success without the promotional stuff MS do (e.g. Summer of Arcade, House party) I wish them all well, but I think MS certainly played their role in the success of those from a publisher point of view.
 
#41
Yeah, you can't even cheat your way in afaik if you get a publisher at a later date. The selection of games isn't what's quality checked anymore, but what studio has the best pre-release marketing aimed at a really specific group of people.
This. The way steam forces Greenlight is horrible, especially when it has so many problems.
 
#42
Sony do a poor job in my opinion of promoting PSN games, we will see when these developers release their PSN games on PS4 if they have the same success without the promotional stuff MS do (e.g. Summer of Arcade, House party) I wish them all well, but I think MS certainly played their role in the success of those from a publisher point of view.
It's like you've never been on PSN before.

Indies advertised even on the XMB menu where Microsoft killed XNA and loops indies in with the other AAA publishers.