Report – Indies fleeing XBLA

Tuesday, 4 October 2011 02:25 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Indie developer 2D Boy has revealed that independents are turning away from the “excruciating” Xbox Live Arcade environment.

In a post on the developer’s blog, 2DBoy’s Ron Carmel said that although Xbox Live Arcade “played a pivotal role in the popularization of independent games”, its star is fading fast, showing the results of two annual surveys of over 200 indies. According to responses collected, significantly fewer indies are planning to make Xbox Live releases in the coming years than previously, while more are turning to the PlayStation Network.

When asked to rate a number of publishing platforms by how easy they are to work with, 48 percent labelled Microsoft “excrutiating” – more than any other platform apart from mobile phone carriers, and significantly higher than both Nintendo and Sony.

Carmel cited exclusivity deals, Microsoft’s distribution contract – described as “the most exploitative, one-sided” offering the developer has ever seen – as well as forced Microsoft Game Studios publication and attendent costs for developer dissatisfaction with the service.

Admitting his survey touched only a small sample of independent developers, Carmel backed up the importance of the trend by noting that the three of the top five rated XBLA games were made by the same group, and the games produced collectively hold a Metascore of 78, well above the service’s average of 66. Furthermore, the games developed by this sample sold on average 137,010 copies in 2010, while other indies only managed an average of 46,281.

Microsoft and Sony’s relative friendliness to independents has been the subject of headlines lately; the most recent blow of the scuffle saw a third-party trash-talking Sony.

Thanks, IndustryGamers.