Xbox Live Arcade a “slaughterhouse” for indie devs, says Joe Danger dev

Tuesday, 13th July 2010 15:01 GMT By Johnny Cullen


Hello Games’ Sean Murray has told attendees at Develop that PSN was picked for the release of Joe Danger because Xbox Live Arcade is seen as a “slaughterhouse” to smaller independent studios.

In a session at the Brighton event earlier this morning, Murray pointed out that almost half of all self-published games released on the service sell under 25,000 units, with 17 percent of self-published games selling over 200k.

“Why choose PSN? It was the only way we could self-publish,” he said. “XBLA is kind of a slaughterhouse for smaller developers.

“There are games that do amazingly well. But there’s two titles released every week and a lot of those are falling in that 25,000 or less category.”

Murray also revealed that Hello Games made even with the release of Joe Danger on its first day on sale, before going on to sell 50,000 units in its first week.

There’s more at GI.



  1. Blerk

    I can imagine people churning out shit having this problem but I can’t imagine they’d have have much issue given the quality of the game and the fact that Trials was so popular.

    Lots of smaller devs complaining about this of late, though – Microsoft need to pull their finger out. Again.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Aimless

    The key part of this talk, which a lot of internet know-it-alls seem to have missed — not directed at you, Blerk! — is that you can’t self-publish on XBLA. As publishers weren’t interested in Joe Danger it couldn’t launch on the 360; see also: Machinarium.

    Now the game has proven itself perhaps someone will be more willing to bring it to the Xbox. In either case I’m glad they’ve seen a decent return on their investment.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. DrDamn

    It’s a cracking little game too. Similar to Trials but a lot more forgiving and a greater emphasis on goals/scoring.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Blerk

    Hey! I resent being left out of the internet know-it-alls list!

    Do we know why you can’t self-publish on XBLA? Is it a money thing or do Microsoft have a rod up their arse over that as well?

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Ge0force

    Most best-sellers on XBL are ports or remakes of existing IP’s. Small studios trying to sell games with innovation are better trying their luck on PSN imo.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. justiceblob

    For me… its something really simple that is holding this part of XBLA back. You cant see everything new to the store in one easy portal like PSN, you have to make the effort to look for it.

    This means that there are very few impressions on the game other than from people who wished to specifically buy it in the first place.

    It seems like buisness 101 to me that making your customers search for a product they dont necacerilly want.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Goliath

    @ Aimless

    You’re right. I wonder why Microsoft backed out of talks to publish Machinarium. It was first reported that they were in talks to publish the title but backed off after the XBLA version was almost complete.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. DrDamn

    It’s fairly easy to see what’s new on XBLA. You just need to know which way you go through the options. Some people find the PSN Store difficult to navigate too. It’s more a matter of what you are used to. The one thing which annoys me with Live is the flooding of game add-ons by Rock Band/Guitar Hero/Lips. It’s all you see. On PSN these games get their own little sub-folders and other game DLC can be seen more clearly.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Blerk

    The most annoying thing is that they gave those music games their own section, and then they include them in the main section as well! The idiots.

    I still prefer the Live way of doing things to the PSN store, though. On the PSP that’s practically impossible to use.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Aimless

    @4 I’m not sure of the specifics, but I believe how it works is that to get on XBLA you either have to be fronted by a licensed publisher or be published by Microsoft themselves; Braid and Castle Crashers took the latter route, so it would appear that entails a 12 month exclusivity period. Presumably the system’s in place for quality control reasons.

    Someone’s transcribed the Develop talk here, by the way. It goes into a few more of the details and gives an idea why the traditional publishing model doesn’t really work for downloadable titles.

    @6 You can see what’s new on the Marketplace fairly easily, it just isn’t laid out in the best way. Both services could do with some improvement in that regard, hence the release of Destination Arcade in the US. Speaking of which, the US PS Store is inexplicably better laid out than the EU one.

    @7 Apparently Microsoft didn’t like that it wasn’t exclusive to the 360 so didn’t want to publish the game. As mentioned earlier you can’t self-publish on XBLA — not the case on PSN, WiiWare or Steam — so to get the game on the service the developer would have to court a publisher and then lose a chunk of revenue to the extra costs incurred by said deal.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Blerk

    Talking of Destination Arcade…. Microsoft appear to have gone nuts.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Blerk

    That seems terribly short-sighted of them, Aimless. It’s like they need an extra layer between the more commercial XBLA section and the practically-all-dismal Indie section (which appears to be far less ‘indie’ and far more ‘I made this game in five minutes using MS Paint and some sample code I found on the internet’).

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Boris Fett

    @11 They’re probably just testing the water. If its successful, they’ll probably bring it back on a more permanent basis later down the line.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Aimless

    Err, so they’re restricting their new solution to finding XBLA games to the one month where they actually promote all the games that are coming out anyway?

    Not that I feel a separate application is the way to go in the first place. They’re releasing an updated Kinect UI anyway, can’t they make its controller-bound cousin less cluttered at the same time?

    As for XBLIG, there are some great games on there it’s just fairly futile trying to discover them through the 360 itself. Better to rely on websites like this, or just go straight for Apple Jack as it’s pretty great.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Boris Fett

    @14 For all we know, they might relaunch “Destination Arcade” alongside the Kinect firmware update.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. GitForceGemini

    @2 You can self-publish on the Indie Games Channel, as happened in the case of Flotilla and Beat Hazard.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Aimless

    @15 I meant the UI in general, really. The NXE is way too busy, with multiple onion layers to peel back each with their own animation.

    @16 Yeah, but XBLIG is not XBLA. The former is something of a niche within a niche, Microsoft themselves seeing it as a proving grounds for ‘real’ games. Not to pooh-pooh the section as I think it’s a great addition.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. Blerk

    The Indie games channel could be great but it isn’t because it’s absolutely flooded with shite. There needs to be more control over what can and can’t go into there because at the minute the decent stuff is just buried within seconds of arrival on the service. The smaller prices range means that they’re unlikely to attract any higher-level stuff now either.

    Ideally Microsoft should appoint someone to oversee that channel for ‘quality’ and reduce its throughput significantly. If they did that they could cherry-pick the best releases for proper marketing and offer them the chance to have achievements and a slightly higher price point, for instance.

    It feels like this is something Sony have gotten really right and Microsoft have gone to both extremes on without ever hitting that middle-ground ‘sweet spot’.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. Aimless

    What you’re suggesting just turns XBLIG into XBLA, though. Microsoft are in a bit of a difficult situation as interfering with that section kind of goes against the point of it, but at the same time it’s in obvious need of more structure and presence.

    Perhaps indie developers simply need to adjust their expectations, see the channel for what it really is: a place to gain experience working on a console, not a place to make your fortune. It’s certainly good for CVs if nothing else; “I put out this game by myself, here’s a URL so you can download it.”

    The cherry picking is going on already, by the way. The annual Dream.Build.Play event is a good example of this.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. cookiejar

    Such a great game this. Well deserved to break even on the first day.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Dannybuoy

    Downloading as I type. Looks a lot of fun.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Boris Fett

    One of biggest problems with XBLIG is the games themselves. It is chock full of trash. For every genuinely great game (Twin Blades, The Impossible Game, etc.) there are 20 pieces of utter tosh to navigate through.

    It really don’t know how you can give it more presence either. It has its own tab just alongside everything else. Although a weekly or even monthly segment on the Inside Xbox tab, to give the games some extra exposure, wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. onlineatron

    Very happy that Hello Games broke even +

    It’s a great game and the developers seem to have a fantastic work ethic and design.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Moonwalker1982

    Oooh for indie devs, ok. Cause i say XBLA >>>>>> PSN..BIGTIME!
    For one real good reason, for EVERY XBLA game we get a free demo to try out. I have yet to see this on PSN.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Kuwabara

    xbox arcade sucks. the real games are on psn

    #25 4 years ago
  26. iduk

    Are you kidding the best indie games are on wiiware if there was no file size limit there might be even more

    Cave Story
    And Yet It Moves
    World of Goo

    Yeah half of those are on OC but they’re just so much better on wiiware

    #26 4 years ago

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