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Lanning: Xbox One team should be fired over indie stance


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#1 Audioboxer

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 16:48

According to Oddworld Inhabitant’s boss, Microsoft should cull its Xbox One team and start again. Lorne Lanning speaks out on Redmond’s great next-gen indie disaster.

 

oddworld.jpg

 

E3 left “Microsoft” and “indie” as immiscible as oil and vinegar. Phil Harrison did his best to make Minecraft look like the future of smalltime console games, but Sony presented something infinitely more sensible with itsswathe of independent variety. Xbox One won’t allow self-published games and PlayStation 4 will. Microsoft’s backpedalling so fast it’s had to turn its handlebars ass-ways, but without another major policy u-turn it seems next-gen Xbox, baffingly, is refusing to acknowledge the importance of indie development to the future of video games consoles.

 

“I’ve watched them make this mistake before,” Oddworld boss Lorne Lanning told VG247 in LA last month. “I’ll give you a true story. When they were launching the first Xbox – and we were a launch title on that – it was an exciting time as well. We did a European tour before Xbox released, and I was with Peter Molyneux and other designers of note, and we met with the press in Germany and France. We could not talk about the games. The press were so irate about the price point, about the way they were handling the euro in different territories, and we couldn’t talk about the games. We couldn’t get in that discussion, and they wanted to hammer on Microsoft.

 

“We get back to the States and we were like, ‘You’ve got a big problem. You’re sinking, tanking in Europe.’ ‘No, no, no, no. You don’t understand. We’ve got our numbers covered.’ We could not get them to avoid the train wreck that was right in front of them. You know what this feels like? Déjà vu.”

 

Lanning was one of eight indie developers on stage at Sony’s E3 press conference with Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, and was “floored at how open Sony’s been, and, in my opinion, really smart and prophetic they’ve been. The indie aspect is going to be a big thing. But just being there was winning enough.”

 

A new generation of problems

 

While Lanning’s relationship with Sony means PlayStation owners will have easy access to Oddworld’s games in the future, Microsoft has proved to be a puzzle the creative, and his UK partner Just Add Water, couldn’t crack.

 

“At the business level, Microsoft isn’t acknowledging people like us,” said Lanning. “It’s as if we don’t matter.”

 

Microsoft’s stance towards indies with Xbox One is a continuation of problems encountered in the current generation: Lanning and JAW boss Stewart Gilray tried for over a year to get Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD released on Xbox Live before ultimately failing.

 

“The target kept on moving, and eventually we couldn’t get clear answers for 15 months. We don’t have five biz dev guys and two attorneys and some PR people to send up there to roll out whatever carpets you have to roll out to get attention.

 

“We were like, ‘Look. We’re on seven other networks. It’s been no-brainers on all of them. We’re not asking you for money. We’re not asking you for advertising.”

 

Lanning added: “We’re little guys, we have to release. We can’t get a straight answer. Then we release on PSN, and we get a mail the next day that says, ‘Oh, you released on PSN at a lower price point, you didn’t meet our margins, sorry you can’t be on the system.’ Boom. And that was it.

 

“We’re not on the radar. We’re little guys. It doesn’t seem like any of the little guys are on the radar. When we listen to them talk, we have to laugh. It’s pure rhetoric.”

 

Refusal to change

 

The problem Microsoft is presenting is this. For an indie to get published on XBLA, it needs a publishing partner as self-releasing on Live is prohibited. This partner may be Microsoft itself, the most prominent example of this type of deal being Minecraft. This means the indie has to give up a revenue share to get onto XBLA, whether it’s to Microsoft or a third-party like Warner, the publisher of Supergiant’s Bastion.

 

In the last generation Microsoft held plenty of cards, but Xbox 360 released in 2005 and the world has changed. The truth Microsoft must now confront is that it is wrong to force publishing deals on independent developers when faced with enormously popular self-publishing platforms such as Steam and the App Store. Sony clearly understands it can never be prudish on the subject of self-publication again. This isn’t even an ethical issue: financially, larger indies like JAW and Supergiant simply don’t need Xbox any more. Millions of sales are possible through other platforms, and as a result Microsoft appears to be both draconian and out of touch. For a tech company, especially one in a market as fast-moving as video games, that’s unacceptable.

 

“In order for us to give up the revenues we depend on as a share, they have to be bringing something of value to our sales,” said Lanning. “We haven’t been doing badly ourselves. Maybe we’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, we’ll be on Xbox too,’ but right now people like us are clearly not in Xbox One’s business model. And there’s nothing we can do about that.”

 

It isn’t just the here-and-now in which Microsoft is making life difficult for itself. Lanning warned that by stifling indies and their innate creativity, Xbox’s policies show a gross lack of understanding about the formation of future hits.

 

“Ten years from now, the biggest banners out there, the hundred million dollar games, are going to be what happened in the indie community. That’s the only place we’re seeing real innovation because that’s the only place people can really afford to. You can’t do it on a hundred million dollar title because you have to be dialled into what that audience really knows and wants.

 

“Someone’s going to be burning the next hundred million dollar properties here, and it might be the least likely guy that was on that stage at the Sony conference. But that’s where it’s going to come from, and the smart people know that. I don’t see any indication of that foresight up in Redmond. They do not seem to be listening to their audience.”

 

Lanning was blunt about solutions.

 

“Quite frankly, out of Washington, we see a pretty good understanding of who makes really expensive great games, but beyond that there’s not really any insight into how people get there from nothing.

 

“It’s a bit puzzling. It’s clear they’re not listening. I’m not sure who they’re listening to. Whoever their PR people are, whoever their marketing agents are, they should fire them all.

 

That’s where they should start. There should be a big, mass firing and they should publicise that. Then they’d get people saying, ‘Hey, maybe there’s going to be a good change.’ But if they keep the rhetoric flowing, obviously everyone’s looking at it saying, ‘This isn’t real.’ How are they going to keep what they’ve got today? That’s a big question.”

 

Microsoft is in the middle of one of the most difficult periods ever experienced on the Xbox project, and while Xbox One pre-orders are outpacing those seen for Xbox 360, there are great risks involved with shunning such a powerful market sector as that of the indie. Redmond needs to start making the right noises, and soon. Either way, it’s doubtful the likes of Lanning will hang around to listen.

 

 

Source: http://www.vg247.com...r-indie-stance/




#2 vcfan

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 16:55

In the end,all these guys are going to look like whiners and be embarassed. Microsoft already said they have something in the pipeline,that they haven't announced yet. They recently strongly hinted at Store Apps type development. Some of these guys need to get a grip, their little indie games are not what sells consoles,and most of them are pretty irrelevant.

 

and

 

 

Speaking to OXM UK, Lionhead Studios creative director Gary Carr told that Microsoft will soon reveal more about its indie games/developers strategy around Xbox One.

He told that we will hear more “very soon” from Phil Harrison, former Sony Worldwide Studios president, who’s now in charge of Microsoft’s European developer relations.



#3 OP Audioboxer

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 16:59

In the end,all these guys are going to look like whiners and be embarassed. Microsoft already said they have something in the pipeline,that they haven't announced yet. They recently strongly hinted at Store Apps type development. Some of these guys need to get a grip, their little indie games are not what sells consoles,and most of them are pretty irrelevant.

 

and

 

Sounds creepily like MS' attitude. Just sayin  :rofl:



#4 -T-

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:00

Sounds creepily like MS' attitude. Just sayin  :rofl:

 

He's right though. Can't imagine anyone rushing out to get a console just to play Fez or Braid for example



#5 giantpotato

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:00

Is it really so bad that there's a barrier for entry for indie devs? If you give everyone free reign you'll end up with a market with 99% crapware like mobile phone app stores.



#6 OP Audioboxer

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:02

Is it really so bad that there's a barrier for entry for indie devs? If you give everyone free reign you'll end up with a market with 99% crapware like mobile phone app stores.

 

Quality leads to marketing
 
Quality plays a factor in whether or not Sony chooses to promote your game heavily or not as well.
 
Simonetta said that being promoted via the PlayStation Blog, or having your PS4 game tweeted about via the official PlayStation Twitter account, is "not guaranteed" -- rather, "it depends on the objective quality of your title."
 
Hence, if Sony decides that your game isn't up to snuff, you may not get as big a free marketing push as other titles on the platform.

 

 

From - http://www.neowin.ne...what-to-expect/

 

If it's not quality, it doesn't need to be advertised all over your store. It's also not as if MS have just been ****ing off people who make crap games, it's acclaimed indie titles/developers.

 

Then there's also getting a devkit. Joe Bloggs isn't getting a devkit for free easily.



#7 MikeChipshop

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:04

Too many but hurt indie devs jumping in before they know the whole story.

 

If MS has a bad stance on indie games then i'll be the first to slam them for it because i love a good indie game but we've not heard enough yet to pass a judgement.



#8 Praetor

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:08

Indie games are selling pretty well on Steam; while it's true that those titles aren't console selling ones, it's a market one could not despise. Maybe Microsoft should look at those figures, just saying...



#9 MorganX

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:11

I cannot wait to play New & Tasty, but on PC where it'll be best anyway. They shouldn't be fired, there just needs to be better leadership making these decisions. You cannot let the inmates run the asylum.



#10 George P

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:12

I still don't get why people want to bunch up "indie" games and Xbox Live Arcade into the same group when they've never been the same.   To be a "arcade" title you always needed to have a publisher, that's how it's been from the start of the 360, you're no longer talking about a "indie" game when you start to want to add in support for Live into your titles.  The same applies to any Live supported games on Windows 8.x and WP, those need a publisher.  A "indie" game in the same sense is one that's just the game, not tied to a specific backend service, and those are open to anyone on Windows 8.x and WP, I have a few on my PC and my phone right now.  It's looking like if you want to just publish your game as is and not add support for XBL on the XB1 then you'll just publish to the store like you would an app.   They've been hinting at it for over a month now, even flat out showing code that targets the Xbox directly but shares most of itself with Windows/WP.    I guess until they make it official people will still doubt that this is the case though.

 

If you want to have the Xbox Live brand on your game, get a publisher, if not, then just push it out to the store as is without XBL support and get the same revshare deal that the app makers get.   That's what I expect, and the fact they've already said that they're no longer going to have a "Arcade" and "indie" areas in the Xbox store says it all to me, they're going to use the same model they have in place on their other two platforms already.



#11 dead.cell

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:16

In the end,all these guys are going to look like whiners and be embarassed. Microsoft already said they have something in the pipeline,that they haven't announced yet. They recently strongly hinted at Store Apps type development. Some of these guys need to get a grip, their little indie games are not what sells consoles,and most of them are pretty irrelevant.

 

and

 

I think you guys are all missing the point. When the people want something, we get loud and obnoxious. Microsoft isn't stupid, they can hear us.

 

There's no need for them to be embarrassed; Microsoft is the one that needs to respond appropriately so that this market can continue to flourish.

 

Also, your attitude that it's "not what sells consoles" absolutely stinks. Unless you work at Microsoft or are some sort of investor, please can it. Gamers like games, and we'd like more of them. Developers want more opportunities to shine. Microsoft has the capability of capitalizing on this. It's a situation that could benefit EVERYONE, if everyone just works together.



#12 Torolol

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:18

well, indie-dev did looking for self-publish features which they pretty capable financially to do this,

but i kinda doubt Microsoft plan for Xbox one would allow new game-publisher(s) outside the 'Approved' ones.



#13 vcfan

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:18

Sounds creepily like MS' attitude. Just sayin  :rofl:

 

This guy makes it seem like his game is Call of Duty,and Microsoft must bow on their knees to make him happy. He's acting like he's a rockstar. Most people buying an Xbox have never heard of him or his game/s.



#14 OP Audioboxer

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:24

This guy makes it seem like his game is Call of Duty,and Microsoft must bow on their knees to make him happy. He's acting like he's a rockstar. Most people buying an Xbox have never heard of him or his game/s.

 

This now sounds like the typical COD fans attitude. If it doesn't sell 30million, it doesn't matter :rolleyes: Oddworld is actually a fairly well known gaming franchise 

 

The Oddworld games have received more than 100 industry awards.

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oddworld



#15 TheLegendOfMart

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 17:25

This guy makes it seem like his game is Call of Duty,and Microsoft must bow on their knees to make him happy. He's acting like he's a rockstar. Most people buying an Xbox have never heard of him or his game/s.

He is highly regarded in the development community. This is nothing to do with making him happy, it's just the attitude of Microsoft that stinks with regards to indie developers, requiring them to have a publisher and making them sign the game exclusive or timed exclusive.

 

With the AAA market as it is stagnant with generic shooters and racing games it's the indie community that brings the fresh new ideas and unique gameplay experiences.

 

You can't just casually dismiss them like you do.

 

The very fact that people are applauding Sony for their stance on indies and self-publishing you'd think people would have a clue.

 

They may not be system sellers but the gaming community do care about them, look at State of Decay for example, they recently sold 750,000 units in June and thats nothing to be sniffed at.