Stranger’s Wrath HD dev ‘gives up on Microsoft’ over 360 SKU

Friday, 22 June 2012 10:46 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Just Add Water boss Stewart Gilray has clarified earlier remarks which appeared to suggest the 360 version of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD had been canned. The project is still viable, the developer has confirmed, but now hangs in the balance after JAW was “dragged along” by Microsoft for 15 months.

Just Add Water head Stewart Gilray has has clarified earlier remarks today which appeared to suggest the 360 version of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD had been canned, saying instead the Microsoft as a publisher, not the game itself, has been kicked to the curb.

“What I said was that we’d given up on Microsoft, not that we’d given up on 360,” he told VG247.

“What I meant was that we’d given up on Microsoft doing anything with it.”

The original game released on Xbox in 2005. The updated, HD version was announced in 2010, and released on PS3 in December last year.

Microsoft was swift to move on the title after it was announced for PS3.

“Two weeks later Microsoft contacts us and asked if we wanted to a 360 version,” said Gilray. “We said yes.”

JAW filled in the paperwork and showed Microsoft comparison shots of the Xbox 1 and HD assets, and the Redmond firm appeared to be satisfied that things were moving ahead.

Gilray added: “Just before Christmas, they came back and said that they didn’t want it because it’d already been on a Microsoft platform. We said, ‘Hang on a minute. We didn’t come to you. You approached us.’ They said, ‘Yeah, but politics here says that we don’t want it on XBLA.'”

Oddworld Inhabitants boss Lorne Lanning then spoke to contacts “upstairs” at Xbox to be told that they could “work it out”. The game was going to be potentially put out on Games on Demand instead of XBLA, but would make it to 360.

In May 2011, Microsoft responded again to say the game couldn’t be put out on Games on Demand because it had to be sold for a minimum of $20 in Microsoft Points. This created an issue, as it was being sold on PS3 for $15, but Gilray was told it was possible to “work it out,” and to “not worry about it too much”.

Games on Demand titles must also have sold 1 million units at retail, but the original game only sold 500,000 copies. Microsoft reps said they’d “see what they could do,” according to Gilray.

In January 2012, Microsoft again responded to say the game couldn’t be released digitally on 360, this time reasoning that it was already out on PS3 and the platform team would have preferred a sim-ship with 360.

“We said, ‘We’ve been talking to you for over 15 months, now,'” said Gilray. “‘We haven’t stalled. You’ve been stalling us. If you’d had come to us six months ago and said fine, we would have held back the PS3 version until the 360 version was ready.'”

Microsoft also said the game needed a MetaCritic rating of 80% or higher to get onto Games on Demand, although it’s unclear why this should have been raised: the PS3 version stands at 82% and the Xbox version is at 88%.

Losing patience, Gilray told Microsoft he would “go elsewhere.” JAW is currently in negotiations with two publishers who are “more interested,” but “because Microsoft dragged us along for 15 months, we’re now having to add new content to the 360 version.”

But the additions will only be made if the publisher “says the right things” to JAW and goes on to get concept approval from Microsoft.

“We can’t wait forever,” said Gilray. “If we did, PS4 and 720 would be out. We have to, at some point, say, ‘We tried. End of.’ And that’s sooner rather than later now. But people can’t accuse us of not trying.”