Mike Mika has a problem. Gamers who’ve secured free copies of #IDARB, his multiplayer hybrid basketball/platformer game, likely don’t consider it to be a problem, but for Mika and his team at developer Other Ocean Interactive, it absolutely is. And it’s one that the head of development at Other Ocean can’t help but exacerbate.
“The problem we have, everything is so…we’re just so fixed in our ways,” the design director tells XBLA Fans, “it’s like, ‘Well, this should just be free. It should just be free.’ And we’re probably part of the problem when you hear people complain about free-to-play games, and how that’s been a race to the bottom on being able to make money. I can see how that happens, because while we’re putting this game together it feels like the right thing to do by all the gamers is to give [#IDARB] to them. I’m sure it’s dangerous. We can’t afford to keep giving it to them.”
But he wishes that they could. While acknowledging that giving too much away is “dangerous,” Mika says that his studio is “definitely erring on the side of being as extremely fair as possible.” No one who’s followed #IDARB (It Draws a Red Box) would dispute that that’s exactly what Other Ocean has done with its game. Mika solicited the help of every gamer with an opinion when designing #IDARB. Then he gave his game away for free before it released. Then he again gave it away for free when it released. Now he wants to give some additional #IDARB content away for free — all of its additional content, actually. But he can’t do that; he’s got a family to feed, and a studio to make profitable. So how does Mika do that? Where does he draw the line between what’s free and what’s for sale? He’s not really sure.