Microsoft takes more flak from indie community
Yet another indie developer has berated the design of the new Xbox Dashboard. Comments from Kris Steele, developer of Hypership Out of Control, echo those from a long line of indie developers who have expressed concern over the new dashboard, most of whom claim Microsoft has effectively “buried” Xbox Live Indie Games.
In a heated blog-post, Steele analysed sales data from two of his games available on XBLIG; Hypership Out of Control – released in 2010 – and its sequel, Hypership Still Out of Control – released January of this year with Microsoft’s new dashboard in effect.
“The original game was downloaded 374 more times the first day of release and 1,506 more times over the first full week. The first full week of Hypership Still Out of Control trial downloads was barely as much as the first day of Hypership Out of Control downloads.”
Those results are far from surprising. Indie games aren’t featured in the new release panel or genre listings on the Marketplace and while they do appear in Bing search results, you need to know the title of the game prior to searching. Not much use to a clique of developers who receive negligible advertising from Microsoft and who likely rely on potential customers stumbling upon their games while perusing through the Marketplace.
Speaking to Eurogamer, Microsoft nixed complaints and reneged on recent console sales data and install-base figures to downplay the community’s unremitting criticism.
“the average revenue for the top 50 indie games is now well over $100,000 per title. When you consider the increasing install base of Xbox 360 consoles (over 960,000 consoles were sold in the US during the week of Black Friday 2011), it’s clear that Xbox Live Indie Games is a great opportunity for developers.”
(It’s worth noting there are well over 2000 indie games vying for attention on the Marketplace.)
The company also shone light on two annual indie events run by developers, the Summer Uprising promotion and Indie Games Winter affair, and told indie developers that, ultimately, they’d have to market their own games.
“Indie developers have told us they are looking for an easy route to market, which is the biggest hurdle to overcome, and we’ve provided that for them with Xbox Live Indie Games. But they’ve got to take that next step and do marketing after the launch. We encourage indie developers to work together and support each other in marketing efforts, like the Indie Games Winter and Summer Uprising promotions.”
Microsoft’s reluctance to embrace the indie scene – or at least offer it some dedicated space on the dashboard – is likely to drive developers elsewhere. Steele’s own Hypership Still Out of Control sold 1,985 copies on iOS in its first week on sale. In addition to that, he tallied another 12000 downloads when he offered the game for free. This, he said, equated to “more than any full week of trial XBLIG downloads”.
The vexed developer finished up his post by bidding farewell to XBLIG,
“Ultimately I do not believe the XBLIG market is growing. I believe these numbers show that. I believe the biggest factor is Microsoft’s burying of XBLIG. Even with Volchaos-like trials, I was not making enough sales to run a profitable game studio. Certainly with Hypership Still Out of Control trial downloads, I have no chance. And that’s why I’ve moved on.