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Indies mixed on Xbox One self-publishing

Thursday, 25th July 2013 03:37 GMT By Brenna Hillier

In a surprise turn around from its historical policies, Microsoft has announced it will allow self-publishing on the Xbox One. Unsurprisingly, the news has raised both excitement and skepticism among indie developers.

Shack News collated a couple of responses to today’s news.

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine creator Andy Schatz of Pocketwatch Games said that an open platform is much better, because it gets rid of arbiters of taste, reduces energy expended on pitching games, and negates the need for publishers.

“While I enjoyed working with [publisher Majesco], had self-publishing been an option on the Xbox 360 it would have saved me a lot of trouble in the long run, since my destination platform was in limbo until a year before launch,” Schatz noted.

“If Microsoft doesn’t promote your game, it will still be a gigantic uphill battle to see any sort of meaningful sales,” he added.

TowerFall creator Matt Thorson said self-publishing would make “a huge difference” to him.

“For me, lack of self-publishing makes it very difficult to consider launching on a platform. I’ve never worked with Microsoft, but I’ve heard horror stories from other indies,” he said.

“Fingers crossed they’re aware of the problems and are ready to put in the work to catch up to Sony. They seem to be on the right track with this and the recent removal of the XBLA patch fee.”

But Jennifer Schneidereit of Tengami developer Nyamyam Games was not so ethusiastic.

“Up until now Microsoft have displayed a mentality that excludes independent developers,” she said.

“This makes it difficult for me to trust their motives for reversing their stance now. From my time at Microsoft, I know that company goals and direction change frequently. These new plans might just be a last minute band-aid and we’ll end up with a similar situation to Xbox Live Indie Games, where Microsoft provides a system, but doesn’t give it the support it needs to be successful.”

“Microsoft will have to do a lot more to gain my trust than just changing their self-publishing policy.”

Polygon also spoke to a couple of developers, including Jamie Cheng of Klei Entertainment.

“I think the real test will be the discoverability of the games on the dashboard,” Cheng said.

“The gauge of a healthy channel is the success of the middle – it’s not enough that a few games are hits, there also needs to be a wide base of developers that are making a decent income. This lowers the threshold and allows more developers to jump in and take risks.”

Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano said Microsoft has a way to go to catch up with Sony, saying he has heard that the tools on ffer through self-publishing are quite limited.

“After my experience working with them to release on Xbox 360, I have no interest in even buying an Xbox One, let alone developing for it,” he added.

“The policy changes are great, but they don’t undo the experience I had. I’m not ready to forget what I went through. Working with Microsoft was the unhappiest point of my career. Policies are one thing, but developer relations are another.”

Peter Bartholow of Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games is also wary.

“I’d need to see the fine print before making any kind of final judgment. After all, these new policies were crafted by the same people that made the last set of awful policies,” he said.

Visit the Shack and Poly links above for more comments from indie developers.

Although The company’s major rival is Sony, one of the more interesting comparisons to make after Microsoft’s announcement today is with Nintendo, which has apparently been doing quite a good job of fostering indies behind the scenes.

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21 Comments

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  1. actuallyisnotafox

    allowing self publishing does means more games get to xbox one but the whole dashboard thing, well im sure ad’s of food and cars will take over people seeing indie games anyday.. :/

    #1 1 year ago
  2. dkpunk

    Sounds like these indie devs will only be happy when someone will also sell their games for them. Oh well, can’t make everyone happy. I can’t wait to see how all of these indie games do on the ps4. If something spectacular doesn’t get released I will be very disappointed.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. machy

    xboxOne should go by the name xbox180

    #3 1 year ago
  4. xBASSxMONSTAx

    ^Or better yet. “Xbox -180″ as they have reversed just about everything they mentioned at E3 thanks to the genius Playstation 4. :)

    Now all they need to do is get rid of kinect and they will be in with a fighting chance but until that happens PS4 FTW!

    #4 1 year ago
  5. redwood

    @4 at the end you will still have the 100 $ canyon.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Genesis1295

    @4 I’d prefer they keep the kinect as it is with the console bundle, the kinect is what differs it too the low standards of the ps4 also a great piece of technology for indie developers to master resulting in what could be a experience that the kinect has yet to achieve X1 ftw.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. MrWaffles

    Being discoverability the second biggest issue to tackle, Microsoft could go the “honest” way and offer in-dash marketing packs for indies at launch.

    “We’ll give you this many banners, you’ll appear on X part of the indie showcase weekly…” whatever. Something guaranteed for every indie.

    OR

    There’s also the possibility to implement some kind of “big brother” ad-hoc publisher support. In this case, Publishers (the guys with the cash) can buy these in-dash marketing packs FOR the indie games they believe will sell, then get a cut from sales”.

    Some sort of reverse affiliate marketing where the big guy is actually the one working for the little one (and making money on it of course).

    Indie devs will have to opt-in for this kind of scheme, but it seems lilke a viable alternative if you ask me.

    Do you think Microsoft will be up for something like this? Probably not, but they seem to be changing their monolithic stance on gaming lately.

    Give me a call, Ballmer.

    -Waffles

    #7 1 year ago
  8. gomersoul

    Playstation plus is a great way for indie games to get noticed, just look at thomas was alone. MS will never want to offer their customers that kind of value and that is why no matter how many shitty policies they reverse they will always be second best

    #8 1 year ago
  9. viralshag

    I think #2 has it spot on and that’s my problem with some indie devs and self-publishing. They want complete independence but then it’s almost as if they want someone else to help them sell their game?

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Froseidon

    I’m probably gonna get a bit of hate for this comment, but this just makes me think that indies are more picky than they can afford to be. I mean, they disliked the fact that there was no self-publishing in the first place, and now there is, they’re still skeptical.

    I dunno, its probably just me thinking some indies seem to want everything handed to them (emphasis on the *some*) and I know there would have been past bad experiences with Xbox, but surely they could look at this more as an olive branch than a slap.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. viralshag

    @10, Well I definitely agree with you. There must be so many real indies that just get on with making their game and suck it up.

    I sometimes think a lot of people must go in thinking they’re going to have the next big hit and somewhat deserve all the help/promotion they need when in truth, they might just have a mediocre game that simply won’t sell no matter how much you promote it.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. Froseidon

    @11 – Yeah, although it can never hurt to help the indie devs. One of the quotes in the article mentions discoverability, which the 360 had, to an extent, with the indie tab on the marketplace.

    I think having an indie section on the dashboard of the X1 may please more indies, however, I just don’t think that its indies that will win the next-gen, as some of them believe.

    I might be missing something a bit more about this self-publishing stuff. In fact, there is no might about it, as I will not have as much insight as the actual indies will, but still, I just don’t feel indies are as important as they’re currently made out to be.

    That said, some indies can really take off, and then a fantastic game that inspires many other carbon copies or “twists” follow, and it can be good for the market (I.e – Minecraft).

    #12 1 year ago
  13. viralshag

    @12, No, I would agree with you on that too. I don’t really “get” the big thing with indies. While some of the games can be fun, a lot of them are throw-away experiences for me – and I’m not trying to say that in a negative way. Like mobile games they’re something I might do for a bit when I’m bored and then I’ll leave them be.

    I believe that all a strong emphasis on indie games on console will do, is create a much more similar situation to mobile gaming and an app store. Loads of games? Yes. Loads of crap? Yes. Lots of innovation? Probably not. Lots of copying? Probably so.

    Maybe because I’m not a big fan that is the reason I don’t see indies as the future of gaming. It’s all just my opinion, if I’m wrong so be it.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Froseidon

    @13 – There is one point I have to disagree on, kind of. And that is your innovation point. I feel that indies definitely innovate (I can use Minecraft as my example again :P), as we have never seen a game like Minecraft before. That was my part of disagreement. Now I can also agree with the point that some companies will then copy Minecraft’s idea (as they have done) and then the innovation starts to become stale.

    I can see indies as important, like they’re a cog in the machine that is the gaming industry, however, I feel that said machine can run without that cog, albeit, a little cranky and noisily.

    Maybe, like you, I don’t give them enough credit as I’m not big user of indie games myself.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. viralshag

    @14, Oh I definitely didn’t mean it in a way that there won’t be any innovation at all. I know there is and I’m sure there will be more. I just mean in the grand scheme of things, some people act like every indie dev and game is going to revitalise the industry with whatever new idea they have.

    While in some cases that definitely holds true, I see a lot of indie devs going backwards and making “classic” games with maybe a modern twist but often seem to rely on nostalgia to sell the game.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. VibraniumSpork

    @14 I think a good frame of context for Indies is what happens in cinema. The blockbuster directors pretty much all show their skills first with smaller independent films made to a tight budget with limited means and minimal distribution. But the important thing is that the bigger studios keep an eye out and ear out for these guys, and there’s a thriving independent cinema scene (festivals, art house cinemas etc.) that gives these films a decent platform to get themselves seen.

    Just like you might not like hanging around with neckbeard hipsters in a trashed-out 1-screen cinema to find the next up-and-coming Director, you might not want to play some old-school 8-bit looking game found nearer the bottom of a PSN/XBL bestsellers list. But give it a year or two and the guys who made that could well be presiding over your next AAA title. That’s why it pays to look after Indies, especially if you’re Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. MCTJim

    Once again, they are whiners and complainers. Here, we removed the patch fee…whine….ok we will let you self publish….whine some more. THey are not entitled to anything and anything Sony/Nintendo or MS gives you is a gift free and clear..whats next…we want the spotlight on our game and for you to sell it for us…my goodness the entitlement attitudes of some of these devs.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. viralshag

    @16, While I’m not saying you’re wrong (because I have no idea what the truth is) but I don’t get that impression from the games industry.

    I think while some talented people might get picked up I get the impression that if you are a successful indie dev, you’re going to stay that way because at that point you’re pretty much a successful and self-employed dev. Why would you work for someone else?

    If there’s examples of indie devs jumping from indie to AAA, I’m simply not aware of it. It seems like they complete one project and start on the next.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. bradk825

    @17 indeed, I read this guy’s comments about wanting his game promoted, which to me sounds a lot like something a publisher is supposed to do. In other words they DO want a publisher, they just don’t want to pay them.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Drewidian

    What I’m hoping to see now is some of those indies develop for unique experiences for not just the XBox One, but to see some of those weird and unique Kinect tools and games we saw in beta for the last version. Since every XBox One will have a Kinect and indies have the ability to self publish and eventually test with their own XBoxes, it will be interesting to see what students and games ideas will come from the dev community. I could easily see universities building labs and even classes around the XBox One to pilot new experiences in ways that will never happen for the PS4. Either way it should be interesting to see how this pans out.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. revolting

    The Nyamyam lady had it right. Trust really is the main issue here, for me at least. Is there anything short of the ridiculous name that they haven’t done a complete 180 on at this point?

    I don’t like bashing microsoft for the sake of bashing it, nor sony; I have always been in equal favour of both, and played and played an equal number of games on 360, ps3 and pc too this generation. I have no interest in favouritism; I just go where the games are and choose each game’s platform depending on which one I personally feel is more appropriate. Prior to E3, I was torn as to which new console to get first; inevitably I was going to end up with both, it was just a matter of which I get first. But following the shambles that was the MS revelation presentation and largely uninteresting E3 presser, then the endless stream of half truths and complete policy reversals, significant figures abandonning ship, and the completely unfocused, schizophrenic nature of the machine itself, I have the bitterest taste in my mouth when it comes to the xbone, having never had an issue with the brand before, and infact leaning towards that one as my first next gen console before this nonsense all started happening. They really have dropped the ball big time, for me.

    It’s all a matter of trust. I just don’t trust them at all, now. After all these mixed messages and constant changes, who knows what the fuck you’re actually buying, at this point? It could change at any time, as they’ve demonstrated time and time again, completely on a whim and/or as the competition dictates. How can anyone trust that? In the space of a couple of months, I’ve gone from decades of being a completely unbiased gamer to a completely pc/ps4 man. And this annoys me, because there’s absolutely no need for it.

    At this point, I don’t actually want an xbone any more. They’ve actively driven me away. Of course, if a must have exclusive comes along, then I will potentially change my mind, but at this point, there really aren’t any. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than a handful of indie games that I can play for less grief elsewhere to get me back on board. Goodbye Microsoft. I was happy to give you money, once, but now I’m not.

    #21 1 year ago