The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile dev defends Microsoft

Friday, 12th April 2013 06:15 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile developer Ska Studios has never had any problems working with Microsoft, contrary to ongoing talk of how indies struggle with the platform holder.

Ska Studios has three Xbox Live Arcade games – The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, and Charlie Murder – as well as four Xbox Live Indie Games – ZP2KX, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1, ZP2K9 and Zombie Smashers X4 Guitarpocalypse! – as well as one Windows Phone game, Z0MB1ES (on teh ph0ne).

Charlie Murder is being published by Microsoft, and in a recent blog post, James Silva – one half of the two-persn developer – had nothing but praise for the platform holder.

“Quite frankly, working with Microsoft is great. I have heard a few stories that contradict my experience, and I know quite a few people who are happier on platforms other than XBLA, and that’s fine for them,” he wrote.

“XBLA is a closed, carefully curated platform with its own set of fairly rigid standards and protocols. For me, it was just a matter of ‘do the work, release the game,’ and that’s exactly what we did. Going from a hobbyist PC bedroom developer to having conference calls with Microsoft (admittedly, still from my bedroom) was such a rush that the supposed terrors of having to fill out lots of forms or fix messaging errors were absolutely lost on me.”

Silva said that “everything’s fine” doesn’t make a good a headline, which leads to a skewed views on Microsoft’s services.

“When one indie says they’re never working with Microsoft again, the gaming public becomes curious as to whether this is an isolated incident, or part of some sort of ugly truth, and pretty soon everyone wants to know if I’ve just been secretly hiding my experience with the ugly truth, or if I’ll be moving to PS4 because of the ugly truth, when in fact this perceived ugly truth is nothing more than four or five data points,” he continued.

“Reinforcing the ‘Microsoft is bad for indies’ narrative doesn’t hurt Microsoft, it hurts indies,” he added.

“Telling thousands of readers that Microsoft is failing at indie gaming is telling thousands of potential customers that Microsoft is failing at indie gaming. And while everyone likes a sale, the ones who really, desperately need the money aren’t the Microsoft people who greenlight the projects, they’re the indie developers who are trying to quit their day jobs, trying to buy a house, trying to raise a baby.

“As a consumer, would you think twice about buying a game from a ‘failed platform?’ Would you hesitate at buying an indie game from a company that ‘screws indies?’ But that’s the current narrative, and while it sucks for Microsoft, it sucks a lot more for indie developers who are publishing on XBLA.”

It’s worth noting that the post went up ahead of recent negative discussion of Microsoft’s treatment of indies, although the sentiment has recurred several times over the past few years.

Thanks, woe.



  1. The Auracle

    Results may vary, of course, but people love hating on Microsoft. And when there’s good news coming from the Redmond camp, people tune out because “It’s Microsoft and that can’t be right.”

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Lengendaryboss

    Only one dev speaks on this, out of the many devs that don’t like MS. Well it is nice to see someone enjoy working with MS.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DrDamn

    He makes some good points, but it’s still not exactly a glowing endorsement of what MS are currently doing. More that they aren’t completely rubbish. Compare statements like this :

    ‘I know quite a few people who are happier on platforms other than XBLA, and that’s fine for them … ‘do the work, release the game,’’

    To what people like Jeff Minter are saying:

    ‘I’m very grateful to Shahid Ahmad at Sony for the opportunity; he’s a man on a mission to bring a ton of indie talent to the Vita and we’re fortunate enough to have been invited to the party. And cheers to Gary Liddon from Ruffian, who gently nudged us in the direction of this exciting opportunity.’

    I think it’s the case that Sony is putting a lot of effort in to courting indies, and for the future market I think that’s going to pay them back big time. I don’t think MS are being particularly bad – and certainly in the past they’ve done some very good things, just in comparison to the effort Sony are putting in currently it comes off worse.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. monkeygourmet

    After watching the Indie Game movie, 2 things were clear too me…

    1. MS were very hard too negotiate with
    2. A lot of indie devs are very unprofessional

    MS seems to make you jump through a lot of ‘hoops’ when trying to launch a game on XBLA, and their strategy in this area is very aggressive.

    Thing is, this stance maybe needed sometimes to ‘reel’ some of these less organised or professional Dev’s in…

    The footage of Phil Fish springs to mind… Fez was a great game, but his ‘drifting’ attitude doesn’t really fit into schedules and forecasts. You need to get that shit out the door.

    It’s like any artform these days, weather you sign a big contract as a band or gaming dev… People want to know when the product is ready…

    No one can afford some ‘tortured’ artist bullshit when there are about another hundred thousand people queing up to sell there product.

    I just think MS generally plays ‘hardball’ in these situations, and a lot of cry babies out there aren’t ready for it.

    The gaming dev scene looks incredibly cut throat, and MS adds another coperate dimension too an already difficult space.

    #4 2 years ago

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