Things have been quiet with Might & Delight recently while they’re still at work on their first game, Pid. The developer, made up of ex-GRIN employees, had no publisher for the game but they didn’t want to go that route. They ultimately decided they wanted to self-publish which while rare does occasionally happen on Xbox Live Arcade Telltale Games’ Walking Dead being a recent example. Usually a publisher is needed unless the company in question is also a publisher of course. However there’s a loophole of sorts which Might & Delight has taken advantage of and we’ve detailed below.
In an interview with Ben Kuchera from The Penny Arcade Report, Adam Boyes of Might & Delight explained that you can self-publish on Steam or PSN but with XBLA, it’s possible to rent a slot from a publisher. A publisher is given a set number of slots by Microsoft to fill them up with whatever they want. They can either publish their own games or take one of the slots and rent it out for a slice of the developer’s profits. So the publisher has no ties with the developer beyond renting out one of their spaces for someone else’s game they want to self-publish. Boyes explains in this quote:
“There’s this new culture of self-publishers who don’t have slots, they just rent slots from other publishers, [Developers] publish games, but they don’t have the ability to publish themselves, because they’re not approved XBLA publishers.”
The cut given to publishers is said to be less than what Steam takes however, that’s on top of a percentage owed to Microsoft for having the game on XBLA. Through that, the publisher gets pure profit unless the game performs under what they expected and can’t justify the losses. It’s sort of a looking-glass into how XBLA limits the number of games published on the platform and the value of having it published on XBLA through other publishers slots to fill.
Might & Delight were against the idea of having a publisher, so renting an XBLA spot was the only way to achieve a multi-platform release on XBLA, PSN and Steam. Boyes goes on further about renting an XBLA spot:
“Sure, you give up a little bit, but unfortunately that’s Microsoft’s way of operating. They want to only be able to award slots to their close, dear partners I guess. I don’t get it.”
It’s quite interesting to hear about the process of renting an XBLA spot in order to self-publish a game on the platform. Microsoft hasn’t commented on this issue before but either way, at least Pid is getting a release sometime this year at an undisclosed price, we all really want to play so the sooner, the better.
Source: The Penny Arcade Report