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Xbox Live Indie Games Struggle For Profitability

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

XBox (Games) 117

An article at the Opposable Thumbs blog examines the Xbox Live Indie Games economy, finding that developers are having trouble making enough money to justify continued work with the platform. Quoting: "If you want to publish a console video game, there's no easier route than the Xbox Live Indie Games program. But while it's relatively easy to get your game on the service, it's hard to get it noticed. There's a lot of junk on XBLIG, so much so that a group of developers banded together at the end of last year to promote quality indie titles. There have been success stories—like the recently released FortressCraft, which managed to sell 16,000 units on the day of release—but they're not exactly common. So with virtually no promotion, and with average earnings of just $3,800 per title, why do developers continue to create games for the platform? ...virtually all of the developers we spoke to are considering moving on from the platform. But all seem to view their experience as valuable, which in the end is part of the point of XBLIG: it's a place where virtually anyone can make a game that can be played on a console. Devs just need to know what they're getting into."

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117 comments

Profitable? (5, Insightful)

Chrysocolla (2314992) | about 3 years ago | (#36667734)

The whole purpose of the Indie game scene on the Xbox Live marketplace is for aspiring game developers and students to get their games out. I think it's perfect at doing that. If you're a developer and plan to generate large sums of cash, sadly you are deluded and are not seeing the point of the Indie marketplace.

Why? Well there are 2 parts to the picture. 1 is you get your talents known and have proof you can ship a game. 2 there is the Xbox Live Arcade. The XBLA is where you generate profits. Only developers who have proved themselves or already existing developers can create games and sell them. Their goal should be to create XBLA games not XBLIG.

I'd guess I would profit more on ~$10 a download, over $1.

Gamepads (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36667762)

The whole purpose of the Indie game scene on the Xbox Live marketplace is for aspiring game developers and students to get their games out.

Then why not do so on the PC? The only downside I can see about making PC games is, as Miguel Sternberg said in the article, "One bonus for going with a console is that we can count on everyone playing with a gamepad, something you can't count on when developing for the PC." A typical PC game needs a separate PC for each player because most people aren't willing to hook a TV and gamepads up to a PC, as I've gathered from previous discussions on Slashdot.

Re:Gamepads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36667792)

You don't worry about hardware requirements on a console. If it runs for one dude, it runs for everyone. Having to explain that concept means we have to share an...

*awkward pause*

If it runs on a netbook, it should run anywhere (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36667880)

You don't worry about hardware requirements on a console. If it runs for one dude, it runs for everyone.

I had previously considering the rule of thumb that if it runs on this year's netbook, it runs for more or less everyone. An Atom CPU is more or less equivalent to a P4, and the Intel GMA (nicknamed "Graphics My [behind]") in a netbook is comparable to a decade-old GeForce 3 or Radeon 9000 video card according to Tom's chart [tomshardware.com] .

Re:If it runs on a netbook, it should run anywhere (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | about 3 years ago | (#36667926)

If you use the 'everywhere' tools like OpenGL. Only problem with 'everywhere' tools is that they're harder to use than the 'one place' tools. I'd go as far as to say I'm a mac-guy at this point in my life but I'll still admit - Visual Studio is the best IDE on the market. There's a huge engine of support and effort put into it, good docs, if you have to write for windows it gets the job done. It's not my cup of tea but if I had to program a game I'd be much more inclined to do so using Microsoft tools than say, Sony's Linux+voodoo based SDK, or Wii's. Don't even get me started about XCode.. Bleh.

The singularity of 'it'll run anywhere' will hit us when javascript is good enough to support the next Id game. Until then.

Voodoo on PS3? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36668088)

If you use the 'everywhere' tools like OpenGL.

I wouldn't think of using anything else for a PC-centric project.

I'll still admit - Visual Studio is the best IDE on the market. [...] Don't even get me started about XCode.. Bleh.

Then use Visual Studio to make an OpenGL+SDL game for Windows, and use XCode only to finish up the Mac version. Or what am I missing?

Sony's Linux+voodoo based SDK

Sure, NVIDIA acquired 3dfx and later made the PS3's RSX GPU, but how much Voodoo tech is in the RSX?

The singularity of 'it'll run anywhere' will hit us when javascript is good enough to support the next Id game.

Not the next Id game, mind you, but Id Tech 2 has been ported to the Java platform under the name Jake2.

Re:Voodoo on PS3? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 3 years ago | (#36668410)

I'm pretty sure by voodoo (lowercase), he meant the sacrificing goats on the keyboard kind......not the Voodoo as in Voodoo Banshee, etc. graphics cards from yesteryear (although, those were some great cards back in the day).

Re:Voodoo on PS3? (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 3 years ago | (#36669024)

Not the next Id game, mind you, but Id Tech 2 has been ported to the Java platform under the name Jake2.

Aren't we on IDtech 5 for Rage? IIRC, IDtech 2 was late 90s. And the OP said JavaSCRIPT, not Java. Thanks for trying, though!

Re:Voodoo on PS3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36669532)

http://code.google.com/p/quake2-gwt-port/

jake was the base for java->javascript recompilation that moved it to javascript and html5

Re:If it runs on a netbook, it should run anywhere (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 3 years ago | (#36670330)

An Atom CPU is nowhere near a P4. It doesn't even come close to most P3s. Unless your Atom has 2 cores and the programs you're running make use of them, which is not very common.

And according to your link, the GPUs you find in netbooks, GMA 500 and 950 (and 3150, it's not on the chart but it's just a slightly overclocked 950), are closer to the original GeForce 256 or the crippled GF2s than to the GF3. They even miss some major features like hardware vertex processing that the GF 256 had.

Re:If it runs on a netbook, it should run anywhere (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36670768)

An Atom CPU is nowhere near a P4.

Clock for clock it appears roughly comparable, according to Atom vs. P4 on Tom's [tomshardware.com] .

And according to your link, the GPUs you find in netbooks, GMA 500 and 950 (and 3150, it's not on the chart but it's just a slightly overclocked 950), are closer to the original GeForce 256 or the crippled GF2s than to the GF3.

Then what do you recommend as a baseline target for low-budget PC game development?

Re:If it runs on a netbook, it should run anywhere (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | about 3 years ago | (#36671000)

Clock speed is not everything. You need to consider your cache and bus speed as well. It it were a car, it would be like comparing the displacement without looking at the horsepower or torque. While it may be a generally good metric, it doesn't always hold true. An atom processor only has between 512k to 1mb of cache and clocks around 2GHz on the high end. A P4 on the other hand has 1-2 mb of cache and clocks at around 2-3 GHz. If power consumption isn't an issue, the P4 is the obvious winner in my opinion.

Re:If it runs on a netbook, it should run anywhere (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 3 years ago | (#36673466)

Clock for clock it appears roughly comparable, according to Atom vs. P4 on Tom's [tomshardware.com] .

If you take a close look at the benchmarks in that link, you'll notice that the only ones Atom wins are those that take advantage of multiple cores. They're comparing dual core Atoms with single core P4s. The single core Atom in there gets destroyed in pretty much all those tests.

You'll also notice notice that they're using desktop Atoms in there, which usually have more cores and are clocked higher than the netbook variants.

Then what do you recommend as a baseline target for low-budget PC game development?

Oh I agree with you there, a standard netbook configuration (say an Atom N270 + GMA 950 and 1GB of RAM) seems like a good target for a low budget game. I was just pointing out how it is in some ways underpowered even compared to a decade old mid-range configuration.

Re:Gamepads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36667818)

So, Tep, weren't you arguing me down a few weeks ago all about how I needed to use mono *blech* for my Android development instead of native Java because of all the great opportunity on Xbox Live to sell my app? So, what happened, man? Sure glad I didn't listen to you.

*snicker*

I'm not infallible (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36667860)

I'm not infallible. The market results described in this article demonstrate that my previous advice of using Mono was ill founded.

Re:I'm not infallible (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#36668246)

I'm not infallible. The market results described in this article demonstrate that my previous advice of using Mono was ill founded.

You are being too harsh on yourself. If you develop in a cross platform way then you do not have to be completely profitable on each individual platform. Your code can target mobile, console and PC simultaneously, so you have tripled your income for the same game. Granted it does cost a bit more to target multiple platforms, but it would not triple the production costs.

Re:I'm not infallible (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36668354)

A cross-platform application is ideally split into two layers [pineight.com] : a "model", "logic tier", or "back-end" that defines the rules of the game, and a "view", "presentation tier", or "front-end" that displays the state of the game to the player. The front-end generally needs to be ported to each platform, but as long as the platforms have a programming language in common, they can share the same back-end.

The trouble comes when not all platforms even support the same programming language. Windows supports almost every programming language you can think of. Mac OS X and iOS support Objective-C and C++. Android supports Java and C++. One might conclude from just this that a model should be written in C++ and a view in the platform's preferred language. But the App Hub platforms (Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live Indie Games) support only C# and other languages that compile to 100% pure CIL, and standard C++ isn't among them. One might try writing the model in C# to target both the App Hub platforms and other platforms, but an individual or 2-man startup might not have the money to buy a copy of MonoTouch and Mono for Android ($400 each or $650 as a bundle), especially when sales are this low.

Other Slashdot users have told me not to worry about targeting the App Hub platforms and other platforms for one product. It would appear that just forgetting about Windows Phone 7 is viable because almost nobody has a Windows Phone 7 device, and a game intended for Xbox Live Indie Games will be so different in fundamental design from a PC- or mobile-centric game (four gamepads vs. one mouse or one touch screen) that not even a complete rewrite view can smoothly abstract over the differences.

Re:I'm not infallible (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 years ago | (#36669626)

$650 for mono on android is not a huge price to pay for someone who has already bought a mac, an iphone developer subscription, windows, visual studio etc...

Re:I'm not infallible (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 years ago | (#36669746)

$650 is huge considering it wont generate any revenue. As someone pointed out, you develop to get your name out. I am skeptical that mono is really. Net compliant on Android. Stick with html 5 and ajax is your best bet for cross platform and Windows 8 tile compatibility.

No WebGL in IE (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36670786)

Stick with html 5 and ajax is your best bet for cross platform and Windows 8 tile compatibility.

Microsoft declared a couple weeks ago [slashdot.org] that it refuses to make WebGL work in IE, citing what it believes to be insurmountable GLSL security problems.

Re:No WebGL in IE (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 3 years ago | (#36672838)

I think that reveals more about the internal architecture of IE than it says about intrinsic security issues in WebGL.

Re:No WebGL in IE (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 years ago | (#36676156)

You could use CSS 3D which IE 10 supports, and I think IE 9? Mango might have that if rumors are true. I have not seen much 3D games on phones yet so for now is no biggie.

Re:I'm not infallible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668660)

Your code can target mobile, console and PC simultaneously, so you have tripled your income for the same game.

You haven't tripled shit. The article here is about how xbox live people aren't making jack on their games so how is that tripling your income? Unless you mean triple of zero. Furthermore, what you really end up with is a watered down lowest common denominator experience that wastes money since you have to pay developers to tweak the experience for the various devices. The good money for small shops is picking a platform and running with it. Direct your efforts at creating the best possible experience on that platform and get paid. Not screwing around trying to make your touch screen centric wp7/mono fart app work on a controller and 55 inch TV. That's laughable.

Re:I'm not infallible (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#36669888)

You haven't tripled shit. The article here is about how xbox live people aren't making jack on their games so how is that tripling your income?

And do you really think that iOS, Android and PC games have a better chance of making money? All of the markets are heavily saturated. You say that developers should just pick one platform? So which platform should it be if you want to make money?

Probably your best bet at getting noticed would probably to develop for Windows Phone 7, because I don't imagine that there is much competition in their app store (unless you are making a tumbleweed app).

Re:Gamepads (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 years ago | (#36668470)

Then why not do so on the PC?

Hardware consistency, everyone is using the same system and that system runs the latest games for that platform perfectly, you can code to the limit, not the bare minimum.
As you said, controller consistency, but also the ability to use Kinect.
You don't have to worry about distribution because that is taken care of directly to all gold subscribers. All you need to concern yourself with is advertising.
Payment, another thing you don't have to worry about and if you're a student doing this just to get a title out then the average earning of $3800 is pretty good, compared to having to set up your own distribution and paywall system.

Asset budget (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36668716)

You make good points. However:

Hardware consistency, everyone is using the same system and that system runs the latest games for that platform perfectly, you can code to the limit, not the bare minimum.

I'm under the impression that a game engine designed for the asset budget of an indie game might not even fully stress the capability of the bare minimum. A couple of the screenshots in the article were of 2D games.

also the ability to use Kinect.

Windows 7 officially supports the Kinect sensor, and a subset of functionality (depth field, not automatic skeleton recognition) is available with third-party user-mode Kinect sensor drivers.

compared to having to set up your own distribution and paywall system

Would something like osCommerce + Super Download Shop [oscommerce.com] + PayPal/Google/Amazon payment work? Or perhaps your point is that the annual price of HTTPS hosting approaches the App Hub + Xbox Live Gold membership fee.

Moreover, the fact that the XNA framework uses a programming language not common on non-Microsoft platforms (C#) limits portability of a game designed for XBLIG to other platforms. I've been told that other .NET languages (e.g. IronPython) can't run in the XNA environment for various reasons, such as the lack of System.Reflection.Emit. Or should one just plan on making entirely separate products for XBLIG vs. other platforms?

Re:Asset budget (2)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 years ago | (#36669124)

You make good points. However:

Hardware consistency, everyone is using the same system and that system runs the latest games for that platform perfectly, you can code to the limit, not the bare minimum.

I'm under the impression that a game engine designed for the asset budget of an indie game might not even fully stress the capability of the bare minimum. A couple of the screenshots in the article were of 2D games.

Assets are not the only things that are computationally expensive, there are plenty of AI, physics, shader effects, etc... that are beyond the scope of the bare minimum. And the obvious way to get around a distribution limit is to use the computational power to generate as many procedural assets as you can.

also the ability to use Kinect.

Windows 7 officially supports the Kinect sensor, and a subset of functionality (depth field, not automatic skeleton recognition) is available with third-party user-mode Kinect sensor drivers.

Yes i have seen there is a BETA version of the SDK recently made available. You can do it, but it's still sold as an XBox accessory, most consumers are using kinect with an XBox anyway.

compared to having to set up your own distribution and paywall system

Would something like osCommerce + Super Download Shop [oscommerce.com] + PayPal/Google/Amazon payment work? Or perhaps your point is that the annual price of HTTPS hosting approaches the App Hub + Xbox Live Gold membership fee.

Yes obviously you can do it with a combination of other services, the point is you don't have to, it's all included.

Moreover, the fact that the XNA framework uses a programming language not common on non-Microsoft platforms (C#) limits portability of a game designed for XBLIG to other platforms.

You are suggesting targeting the PC but if multiple platforms is your goal then you know that by targeting XBLIG you get 90% of the PC gaming market that you are suggesting as the alternative anyway.

Or should one just plan on making entirely separate products for XBLIG vs. other platforms?

XBLIG + Windows7 vs other platforms, yes. Given that XBLIG + Windows 7 is the vast majority of the gaming market anyway, as hobbyist if you've targeted that then you're doing well.

Re:Asset budget (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36670862)

Assets are not the only things that are computationally expensive, there are plenty of AI, physics, shader effects, etc... that are beyond the scope of the bare minimum.

How did AI and physics run on sixth-generation video game consoles such as the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube?

by targeting XBLIG you get 90% of the PC gaming market that you are suggesting as the alternative anyway.

I don't own an Xbox 360. As I understand it, buying an Xbox 360 just to develop for it would cost me $300 for the hardware plus $500 for five years of App Hub plus $300 for five years of Xbox Live Gold. What do I misunderstand?

Re:Asset budget (1)

protektor (63514) | about 3 years ago | (#36672616)

If I were an indie developer I wouldn't even bother trying to run my own e-store for my apps. You have to deal with merchant accounts, charge backs/fraud and going with Paypal isn't much better given they have frozen accounts over and over just like they did to Mindcraft, not to mention just plain seized accounts as well. Just do a web search to see all the problems with Paypal.

If it were me I would look at something like Desura (http://www.desura.com/) where they will host and sell any game for anyone as long as it is mostly finished and playable, but not illegal or porn. They have all the tools to create a community for a game and it doesn't cost the developer anything. They do take a slice of what they sell, but then so does Steam and other places. I have heard a few horror stories about how much Steam takes from some of the little guys, up to 65%-70% is what I have heard. Desura does Windows now but I have heard they are eventually suppose to support Linux and Mac at some point.

Some of the gaming portals out there will sell your game for you too after taking a slice of the pie. Personally I would rather someone else deal with all that mess.

Re:Gamepads (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | about 3 years ago | (#36669206)

Not so sure about that, pretty much everyone i know has a big monitor and the xbox gamepad is very popular among the pc crowd as well.

Re:Gamepads (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36670816)

Not so sure about that, pretty much everyone i know has a big monitor

If you post to Slashdot, then you're more likely to 1. be a geek and 2. have geeks for friends. Other Slashdot users such as CronoCloud have warned me in the past that PC monitors big enough for two to four people to fit around are way atypical. Do you want links to prior comments?

and the xbox gamepad is very popular among the pc crowd as well.

I know this isn't Wikipedia, but are there any news articles about use of the Xbox 360 controller among PC gamers?

Re:Gamepads (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 years ago | (#36671056)

but are there any news articles about use of the Xbox 360 controller among PC gamers?

Not that I'm aware of, but the 360 Pad does seem to be the gamepad of choice amongst a majority PC gamers that use one, with the various Playstation-foo Dual Shocks being a strong second.

Re:Gamepads (1)

protektor (63514) | about 3 years ago | (#36672694)

There are no articles other than people complaining that Windows games think every gamepad is an XBox 360 controller so they show those button layouts and it pain sometimes to remap, if they even allow it. So yes the XBox 360 controller is common on the PC. If I remember correctly to get a game certified Windows that you must support the XBox 360 controller on the PC as one of the interface options. Microsoft has pushed the XBox 360 controller on the PC in a big way.

Re:Gamepads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670610)

Then why not do so on the PC? The only downside I can see about making PC games is [...]

Clearly, you've never tried making a commercial quality PC game.
- Graphics cards that report full OpenGL 2.0 but don't support repeating NPo2 (non power of 2) textures, or that don't support NPo2 at all
- Different ways to compress a texture
- Vastly different amounts of texture memory (netbook vs gaming rig)
- Very different hardware speeds (1 GHz Atom netbook vs 3 GHz multicore gaming rig)
- Differing screen sizes and aspect ratios (16:9, 16:10, 5:4, 4:3)
- Problems running the game as administrator, or not as administrator
- Input devices (standard qwerty keyboards, non qwerty keyboards, mice, tablets, touchscreens, xbox gamepads, other gamepads)
- Network proxies
- OS versions (XP, Vista, 7, with various service packs, home basic vs pro and other editions)
- Sound problems all over the place (bad drivers, 5.1 drivers, cards with weird sampling rates)
- Lots of extra menu interfaces for remapping devices and buttons, picking save drives and locations, handling the extra crap you don't expect
- In-game tutorials must mention the right buttons
- "Why don't you support my Mac"? (and the same host of potential problems all over again if you do)

All of these things can easily apply to something as simple as "Multiplayer Pong", and I'm not including anything related to purchasing, distribution, or piracy, which also get much more complicated that you are probably aware.

Re:Profitable? (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | about 3 years ago | (#36667784)

I would guess a $1 game may sell a lot more than a $10 game, you do have to sell 10x as many but for $1, more people will take a chance on your game.

Re:Profitable? (4, Insightful)

DMFNR (1986182) | about 3 years ago | (#36667796)

Well said. The $3,800 per title average is probably a hell of a lot more than they would be getting through any other release channel, and pretty much the only official outlet for an independent developer to get their game out on a console platform. As you said, it also give them a chance to get their name out there, and just maybe, if they can produce a quality product, generate some sort of buzz around themselves so they can start to make some ACTUAL money with their talents. They still have a hell of a lot better chance of doing it there than they do with a PC game drifting in the gigantic shitstorm that is the Internet.

What's the next obvious article Slashdot? "FOSS Developers Not Raking in Millions, Study Says?"

Re:Profitable? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36667838)

BUT ERIC RAYMOND WAS "SURPRISED BY WEALTH" also cock

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
jimjams hooble dooble and nonesuch

Re:Profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36667830)

I agree with that. Most of the games are $1. The developers set these prices. They don't expect to make money. There's some real gems on there if you're willing to dig through though. My recent find is Retrofit Overload. Best Galaga-like game since Galaga.

Re:Profitable? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 3 years ago | (#36667996)

"Only developers who have proved themselves or already existing developers can create games and sell them."

See Minecraft for counter argument. In the real world brand spanking new indie developers can make tons of money, so they should be able to make money on the Xbox just as on the PC.

Re:Profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668052)

There are always exceptions, in general though indie developers struggle regardless of platform. Indie development is not something you do to make bucket loads of money.

Re:Profitable? (2)

delinear (991444) | about 3 years ago | (#36669922)

True, but then having said that, I don't think $3,800 is a bad return for a bedroom developer's hobbyist project. It might not be feasible as a business model, but to pick up some pocket money while learning your art and getting some good experience on your CV it's not a bad route to go down - especially as you don't have any hassle over how to accept micropayments, it's all done for you. Not to mention there's a LOT of gargbage on there, which potentially means any halfway decent game is seeing much higher returns but the average is skewed by all the dross.

Re:Profitable? (1)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | about 3 years ago | (#36668020)

We've found that revenues are non-linear with price. But since visibility is one of the goals, I'd rather have many downloads at a low price than few downloads at a higher price, for the same amount of revenue.

It's not all about the benjamins -- well actually it is, but i'll take the opportunity for a barrel of benjamins later (by establishing a nameplate or title) rather than a fistful of benjamins today (by being the bestest XBLIG title evarr!!1!)

Re:Profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668108)

Yeah, that's the Slashdot philosophy.

People who own and control the platforms, pipes, and massive data centers (except for perhaps Microsoft) deserve to make the big bucks. These are the real technology creators.

Content developers should be happy to have an audience and maybe get paid a buck fifty an hour.

Re:Profitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668420)

You are completely missing the point. No one is blocking or stopping indie developers from making money. MS are one of the few companies that make life easier for indie devs. But indie development is never easy as it means you are writing a game without the backing of a publisher and hence all costs, marketing, distribution etc are all on your own hands, even big publishers generally have more failed games than profitable ones. No one is stopping an indie dev from succeeding, they are simply trying to suceed in a over populated market where simply being a good game isn't generally enough, without marketing and distribution advantages that the large dev houses have you are allways on a hiding to nothing unless you get incredibly lucky. Hence if you consider indie development as anything more than a stepping stone or proving ground for your career you are likely to end up on the poverty line.

Re:Profitable? (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | about 3 years ago | (#36668116)

XBLA games are profitable? When you see most sold about 5000 copies and they retain about $2 from a copy... then where is the profit? iPhone and PCs are totally hopeless as you get released into the pool with tens of thousands competing apps/games and most users only see the top 100. Unless you are well established, multiple award winner or have some marketing strategy you will hardly see any sales.

Re:Profitable? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 years ago | (#36668508)

XBLA games are profitable? When you see most sold about 5000 copies and they retain about $2 from a copy... then where is the profit?

In the $10k that adds up to.

iPhone and PCs are totally hopeless as you get released into the pool with tens of thousands competing apps/games and most users only see the top 100. Unless you are well established, multiple award winner or have some marketing strategy you will hardly see any sales.

How is that different from anything else? Of course you need to have some kind of marketing strategy, you can't just put it out there and expect everyone to notice it.

Re:Profitable? (1)

godrik (1287354) | about 3 years ago | (#36669288)

"In the $10k that adds up to."

Well, $10K is about the employment cost of 2 people for one month. A game that will sell 5K copies probably needs a little more than that.

Re:Profitable? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 years ago | (#36669296)

Well, $10K is about the employment cost of 2 people for one month. A game that will sell 5K copies probably needs a little more than that.

XBLIG is for hobbyists, not full time devs.

Re:Profitable? (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 3 years ago | (#36668564)

I'd love to try a few of the indie games out. My problem is I simply can't find them when looking through the menu system. It seems there is XBLA available here in Australia but not XBLIG.

Australian Classification Board (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36668846)

That's because Australia requires classification of all video games for socially objectionable elements, and the XBLIG business model cannot afford to pay the Australian Classification Board $2,040 per title [classification.gov.au] . If you want to play unrated games, you could try becoming a skilled worker [uscis.gov] .

Re:Australian Classification Board (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 3 years ago | (#36669270)

Thanks for clarifying that. Won't be applying anytime soon, I'd much rather live here and moving the family is not going to happen.

Re:Australian Classification Board (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 3 years ago | (#36669468)

Indeed. As a dual US-Australian citizen who spends their time living in both countries at various times of the year, I don't blame you at the moment. The US has some nice aspects to it (cheaper travel, cheap consumer goods, ability to play unrated games etc.) but the economy (unemployment rates, average wages etc.) and quality of life (number of holidays, work/life balance, crime rates, design of cities, quality of food etc.) is so much better in Australia it's not funny.

It wasn't always that way. Used to be the US was the place to make money, and Australia was a nice place to relax and enjoy life. But the US has been hit hard economically in the last 10-15 years, while Australia has made leaps and bounds ahead (without losing much of its its great lifestyle, good governance and egalitarian society). Australia today is almost unrecognisable from Australia in the 80s and early 90s. And the Australian dollar now being worth more than the US dollar was the final straw for me - I now tend to remain in AU for the foreseeable future. We'll see how the recovery in the US goes, but with its crippling debt, I hold no great hopes on that front.

Anyway this is all a bit off topic. Regarding XBLIF, I wonder if you can somehow figure out a way of getting a US XBL account which would give you access to XBLIF? I don't personally have an Xbox so I'm not sure what kind of information is needed to create an account - if you can put in a fake address and use cards/vouchers to top up your balance perhaps you don't even need a US credit card/billing address? Do they do IP geolocation to prevent people using it outside of the US? If so you could set up a VPN (at your home router level) to get around this. I do this to access stuff like Pandora and Hulu when I'm outside the US, and also to buy games at US prices off Steam. Don't know how practical all this is, but where there's a will, there's a way ... ;)

Not surprising (-1)

heptapod (243146) | about 3 years ago | (#36667758)

The only 'indie' game I acquired from XBL was Braid and it was a steaming pile of pretentious crap molded into a mildly creative platformer. If Braid is representative of the so-called 'indie' games then I rather shovel my cash into the gaping asshole of EA and support BioWare's hentai virtual novels.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668098)

The only 'indie' game I acquired from XBL was Braid and it was a steaming pile of pretentious crap

This is not true of all indie games. Its a bit of hit and miss affair, and this is also true of titles from big publishers.

Re:Not surprising (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | about 3 years ago | (#36668528)

Braid is an Xbox Live Arcade game, not an Xbox Live Indie game. There's a difference.

Re:Not surprising (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 3 years ago | (#36669032)

Braid is an Xbox Live Arcade game, not an Xbox Live Indie game. There's a difference.

Yes, the OP got mixed up with "Indy game on the Xbox in the arcade section" and "Indy game on the Xbox in the Indy section".

You know where else there is a difference? Being a pretentious jerkoff and being a pretentious but articulate jerkoff.

DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS !!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36667892)

Why are you guys leaving? Was it because of the chair?

Re:DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668018)

No, I think it was the pit stains, Steve.

Just because they are indi.... (1)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | about 3 years ago | (#36667970)

Just because they are indi doesn't mean they don't have to do the same stuff as the big guys do to get their stuff noticed, namely, advertise.

Yup it costs money but XBLM is NOT "The Field of Dreams" There is no "if you make it they will come"

You want people to buy your stuff, let them know it's out there TO buy.

Re:Just because they are indi.... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 3 years ago | (#36669042)

You want people to buy your stuff, let them know it's out there TO buy.

... and you also have to make a decent game. And set a decent price point. Advertising is just one part of the equation... you need quality and satisfaction. (Though you wouldn't know it if you've ever bought american made anything.)

Re:Just because they are indi.... (1)

megrims (839585) | about 3 years ago | (#36669472)

You seem to be short on the letter 'e'. Here! Take some of mine:

eeeeeeeee

they can start by not being complete crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36667972)

that's sometimes a good way to make your games profitable

i know the success of Modern Warfare 2 may make that hard to believe but trust me on this

New store is without Indie games? (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | about 3 years ago | (#36667974)

Here in EU I can't see Indie games section on my new Xbox when logged with my new Live profile, is this a trend?

Which country? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36668870)

The European Union is not yet a sovereign state. Which EU member state is associated with your profile?

Re:New store is without Indie games? (1)

delinear (991444) | about 3 years ago | (#36669984)

Works fine for me in the UK, where are you?

Well the closed system does not help (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#36667992)

Well the closed system does not help I liked the old shareware systems. The high costs of DEV kits holds down the small guys. Also Xbox Live Indie Games has limits that are in place to make it hard to make a game on the level of the big guys.

The binary distribution package must be no larger than 150 MB (dumb and makes you cut down on stuff like art, sounds and levels.

The games are priced at 80, 240, or 400 Microsoft Points (approximately $1, 3, and 5, respectively). Games larger than 50 MB must be priced at least 240 Microsoft Points.[12] Prior to the August 2009 update, the pricing structure was set at 200, 400, or 800 Microsoft Points.[11] (limited price points sucks apple's app store lets have a lot more choice here) And games over 50 meg must cost $3 or more?

XBLIG games do not have achievements or leaderboards, nor are they listed on a player's "Gamer Card (why does this need to locked out?) at least have leaderboards.

Very few DS games are bigger than that (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36668152)

The binary distribution package must be no larger than 150 MB

This is much bigger than WiiWare's 40 MB limit [gonintendo.com] and comparable to the biggest of big-guy games for Nintendo DS. All but 18 DS games released in the United States are 128 MB (1024 Mbit) or smaller according to Pocket Heaven's release list.

makes you cut down on stuff like art, sounds and levels

When .kkrieger [wikipedia.org] fits in 0.1 MB, 128 MB looks positively spacious, especially for a game without AAA production values.

Re:Very few DS games are bigger than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671718)

It'd be interesting to see how the same procedural generation techniques could be applied to the modern console systems. The main issue is the tricky knot of processing power / loading time / main memory size. (Hardware limits on any of those put additional pressure on the rest.) Compared to a traditional computer, the consoles have always been memory-starved. So if you're going to compute resources on the fly, you're going to have to fit it in limited space (leaving enough left over to play the game); if you need more, you'll have to figure out how to discard resources and compute new ones in the background (leaving enough processing power to be running the game). For many game types, that'd be challenging!

It's probably possible to do it for some game types though, while keeping under that 50 MB $1 limit on the 360. Probably profile resources based on compute time, frequency of use, order of use, and size, and then store the worst ones as part of that 50 MB allowance, and possibly use some more space as swap.

And probably nothing done that way is portable between consoles. Their memory layout is different enough, and you'd probably be doing a lot of low level optimization and trying to use their graphics hardware to do some of the computation.

I wish people would stop with that (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#36672652)

Seriously, when people point to any of Farb-rausch's 64k demos as examples of how bloated software is, all it shows is ignorance. Don't get me wrong I -love- what they do, it is really cool "optimize for one thing" kinds of development, not to mention that many of their demos have really good music/art direction. However it is not at all feasible for general use. Never mind all the rather sever limitation on what you can do in terms of assets, have you ever looked at one of those demos when they are running? Kkrieger uses 300MB of RAM when running. The reason is that they have to procedurally generate a bunch of crap in to RAM, since none of the assets can be stored on disk to keep the size down. It is extremely neat as a demo, not useful as an actual method for developing software.

So people people stop with the "OMG Farb-rausch can make tiny apps everyone should!" Learn about what they do, maybe download their tools and play with them. It is amazingly fucking cool but nobody, not even them, suggests all apps should be done like that.

I didn't mean all software (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36672834)

Seriously, when people point to any of Farb-rausch's 64k demos as examples of how bloated software is, all it shows is ignorance.

I wasn't trying to imply that all software should adopt Farbrausch's methods straight up, only that developers crunched for space can learn a lot from those methods. If FR demos can compress things severely by procedurally making everything from scratch, others can probably compress them less severely by storing assets in low detail and enhancing them at runtime with procedural synthesis of the fine details. Think of it as being like the difference between PNG and SVG.

none of the assets can be stored on disk to keep the size down.

How big can saved games be on an Xbox 360?

Kkrieger uses 300MB of RAM when running.

And a 360 has more than that. Besides, I thought we were discussing distribution package size.

Re:I didn't mean all software (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#36673182)

Again, you need to do more learning about games development. The idea of procedural synthesis of small details is something that has been brought to life, with new hardware. Modern graphics hardware supports tessellation that allows for what you suggest to a degree. Of course the Xbox does not have that so you can't really do that. You can do it with the CPU, as fr does, but then you take mass amounts of memory and have large precomputation times.

Their methods are just not something you can apply to general development. kkriger is an excellent example. It is extremely simple, has large compatibility problems, and features only simple, repetitive, geometric assets and for all that needs 300MB of RAM. Try and scale that up some and see how it goes. Actually, if you want to see a bit of that, take a look at fr-041. Features more complex textures, geometry, and motion. However it'll eat a gig of RAM no problem, not to mention beat the crap out of the shaders of a high end GPU.

There's also simply a problem with suggesting that all programmers should be able to do what the very best can. Fr are the best of the best at small (on disk) demos. That's great, but you cannot expect every programmer to be as good as they are. Acting as though everyone should be able to perform feats the top performers do is silly.

I again say: Fr makes some of the best demos out there. Their 64k stuff is technically brilliant, and their larger stuff is just a pleasure to watch (I love fr-025). What they do has very little to do with developing a game.

Re:Well the closed system does not help (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668156)

They actually have the lowest possible cost for any supported console development option. With DreamSpark students get a free year of developer support, with free SDKs, IDEs and a good community of people who can share their experience with.

On the other hand, you only need $100/year, which is reasonable for me.

Re:Well the closed system does not help (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 3 years ago | (#36668648)

The high costs of DEV kits holds down the small guys.

Why do you need a dev kit if you're doing XBLIG?

Also Xbox Live Indie Games has limits that are in place to make it hard to make a game on the level of the big guys.

If you want to compete with the big guys then you wouldn't be using XBLIG for many of the same reasons they aren't using XBLIG. It also limits your choice of language, but again if you want the full flexibility and ability to compete with big studios you don't use XBLIG, that's not what it's for.

The binary distribution package must be no larger than 150 MB (dumb and makes you cut down on stuff like art, sounds and levels.

Well you aren't paying for distribution now are you?

XBLIG games do not have achievements or leaderboards, nor are they listed on a player's "Gamer Card (why does this need to locked out?) at least have leaderboards.

Because these aren't premium features. Gees all your complaints are that the cheapest, most basic entry-level way to start out in game development on the xbox doesn't offer you all the features given to commercial studios, so it appears you've completely missed the point of what XBLIG is.

Re:Well the closed system does not help (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 years ago | (#36669688)

The point is its all a step backwards, the system is designed to keep the big boys raking it in and anyone else out so they don't have to compete.

Compare to say the C64, Amiga, or even Windows... Everyone has access to the same APIs, and there are/were thriving scenes of indie games. Many great games were released for free or as shareware.

A system like XBLIG has so many arbitrary restrictions, the whole thing is quite insulting. They restrict the languages you can use, restrict the price you can sell for, the size of game you can produce and force you to use their distribution channel exclusively.

All of this will ensure that Indie games are always perceived as inferior to the big name studios.

Re:Well the closed system does not help (1)

Xest (935314) | about 3 years ago | (#36670208)

"The point is its all a step backwards, the system is designed to keep the big boys raking it in and anyone else out so they don't have to compete."

Rubbish. It's designed to make sure the key areas don't get flooded with low quality crap whilst still giving low quality crap developers somewhere to publish. There are numerous examples of XBox Live Indie games that were of sufficiently high quality that Microsoft gave them the option to publish on XBox Live Arcade with all the quality games and developers using exactly the same APIs they do. In other words, if you can produce a game to the quality of the "big boys", then you can release with the "big boys", if not, you stay in the bargain bin and don't make a mess of the main store.

"They restrict the languages you can use, restrict the price you can sell for, the size of game you can produce and force you to use their distribution channel exclusively."

You realise the "big boys" have all these sorts of restrictions too right? Well, except the last one, which is outright false. You can publish to XBLIG and whereever the hell else you want too, that was kinda the whole point of XNA- develop once, run on any Microsoft platform, and no license restrictions preventing you porting elsewhere.

"All of this will ensure that Indie games are always perceived as inferior to the big name studios."

Well that's because they are, and when they're not, they are indeed allowed to graduate to live arcade and play in the same park and with the same toys as the "big boys".

Re:Well the closed system does not help (1)

Xest (935314) | about 3 years ago | (#36670190)

"The high costs of DEV kits holds down the small guys. Also Xbox Live Indie Games has limits that are in place to make it hard to make a game on the level of the big guys."

Yes, I understand, free is pretty fucking expensive. Those evil limits too, I mean, how dare Microsoft require that you need to know a bit about game development to erm, make a game.

"XBLIG games do not have achievements or leaderboards, nor are they listed on a player's "Gamer Card (why does this need to locked out?) at least have leaderboards."

Actually they do have leaderboards. Achievements are the only missing component but this is a harder problem to solve. If you have hundreds of indie games out there where quality control is done by the community then you're going to get massive gamerscore inflation as people buy the cheapest easiest games just to boost making gamerscore meaningless. I'm not sure how Microsoft can solve this one without a separate achievement system for indie games.

Most game developers... (2)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 3 years ago | (#36668212)

... suck. It must be said that developing games is exceedingly time consuming and cost prohibitive exercise. There's too much work that has to go into a game before you'll even get noticed. Not to mention all the great free games on sites like kongregate.

Can your indie game compare to a free game like villainous?
http://www.kongregate.com/games/Rete/villainous [kongregate.com]

You'd have to be out of your mind or very skilled to develop games, and all of your team members have to be firing on all cylinders over the long haul of the games development. There's just too many people in game development with too few high quality skills.

Re:Most game developers... (1)

Elbereth (58257) | about 3 years ago | (#36669176)

Wow. I sure how that there are games better than that. The graphics are total shit, and the gameplay consists of clicking on shitting icons, then sitting there, waiting for something to happen. Exciting.

I wouldn't even pay a single dollar for that game.

If I had known it was some shitty flash game, I probably wouldn't have even clicked on the link, so fair warning to anyone else who has an actual gaming PC...

Re:Most game developers... (1)

Elbereth (58257) | about 3 years ago | (#36669194)

Man, there are so many typos in that post, I must need to get some slepe pretty bad.

Re:Most game developers... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 3 years ago | (#36669840)

The game linked to is part of a very popular game/genre called - tower defense, most indie games cannot get that kind of uptake. Tower defense type games are pretty big and widely known, most indie games never get anywhere close.

You have to start off somewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671632)

Yes, natural talent is important. Some people might just not be meant to get into game development.

But just like most other things in life, very few people get by talent alone. Most people got to where they are through a combination of talent, hard work, networking, and maybe just sheer dumb luck (luck could include just being lucky to be born by the right people at the right time...)

If the people have the passion for making games, go for it I say. Even if you lack the talent, you can improve in the other areas . Just don't expect to be the next "gaming god" any time soon, of course.

Why do developers continue? (2)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#36668340)

Because it's not the norm on that platform for the developer to be necessarily profit oriented. Sure there are many who seek to make a profit, but a lot of them just like making games for the console, and selling them is merely a bonus.

I'm an XBLIG developer! Listen to me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36668652)

I'm a lifelong gamer, professional developer (business software), and amateur game developer. I've started dozens of little game projects over the years, but they almost always end the same way, which is by my saying "Why am I spending all my time doing this? Who's going to play this game?" Maybe my friends might humor me a bit, but really, I had no way to reach a larger audience.

Enter XBLIG. With a $99 entrance fee and free tools, and a lot of quality libraries out there (physics, particles, etc), it was a amateur's dream come true. I've released two games, sold thousands of copies, and had a really thrilling time doing it.

Maybe I'm part of the problem, selling "junk" out there, who knows. But I'm having a ball. Contrast that with the whiners who cry because they can't make a living from XBLIG alone.

Re:I'm an XBLIG developer! Listen to me! (1, Funny)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | about 3 years ago | (#36669044)

I'm a lifelong gamer, professional developer (business software), and amateur game developer.

Read: I never got a real job interacting with real people, so I sit behind a computer. A lot. And I do alright.

As an Xbox Live Indie Game Developer (3, Insightful)

mentil (1748130) | about 3 years ago | (#36668724)

I can say the situation isn't too good. Promotion for most of these games is non-existent on Microsoft's part. Too few games make enough in revenue to cover the money spent (usually on art/music) to produce the game, even less cover the programmer's time.

Those that have made the highest-quality games are almost all leaving or considering leaving the platform. The biggest problem is quality: maybe 50% of games are no better than your average free Flash game; most of the rest are ok quality but highly derivative. High-quality games get no special promotion and are thrown in the New Releases list next to Breakout clones and gimmick app/games. The Indie Games area would ideally be reserved for games that are nearly Xbox Live Arcade quality but are too niche or can't fit in the extremely crowded XBLA release schedule.

Advertising these small $1 indie games isn't tenable, as the cost for ad impressions/clickthroughs is higher than the return on one extra sale of a $1 game. Getting someone browsing the Internet on their PC to download a demo on their Xbox is difficult as well, in psychology and process.

Of course Nintendo and Sony don't offer anything comparable (peer-reviewed indie games with no dev-kit cost or possibility of game concept rejection) so the most similar platform one can threaten to leave to is the mobile phone market, whose pitfalls have been repeated ad nauseum since the first few stories of iPhone-coder millionaires.

The best solution to fix XBLIG is some way to promote certain games to a special 'not-crap' section that gets dashboard promotion and is more easily accessed than the rest of the stuff. Some actual competition from Sony would go a long way.

Re:As an Xbox Live Indie Game Developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36669138)

The cynic in me tells me that the only reason for the Indie Game Developer program's existence is to keep the "homebrew" crowd under control, much like how Sony used to do so with Linux.

Re:As an Xbox Live Indie Game Developer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36669536)

in 1984: indie c64 game developers struggle to make profit. in 1990, indie amiga game developers struggle to make profit, in 1998 indie pc game developers struggle to make profit.. you know why? as you start making profit, you're no longer indie, and even then there's the struggle to make profit, if there isn't then there's going to be a lot of people flocking in to make games and again the situation is the same. it's just normal in the games industry. that's why when you're indie, you can just do it and see if someone plays - if you're doing it otherwise you're a regular game developer house.

Re:As an Xbox Live Indie Game Developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670754)

The biggest problem with XBLIG is the lack of major engine support. I released a game for XBLIG and I had to make a lot of things from scratch. Had I been able to use unity or unreal my game would have been 10 times better. Personally, if you can't use a major engine like unity or UDK, the service will never succede. There is no way a hobbies can compete without using these tools. The reason why you use an engine is to take out all the boring work. But with XBLIG you have to spend hours doing all of that work.

I haven't made too much money off of my game but I have got a lot of "street cred" and a lot of contracts from it. Personally I feel that the way XBLIG is set up right now is not to make money but to just simply add a game to your portfolio and get other work as a result. It isn't set up to be a commercial venture.

If developers were able to use top engines for XBLIG like unity I feel that this would fix a lot of things. The quality will go up and as a result the sales.

There's the PC (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#36672502)

In particular services like Impulse and Steam. I don't know how they select games for promotion. However they do, I've seen little indy games promoted on their front pages. If the game is good, and it is what gamers are after at a given time, it can sell really well.

A recent example I can think of would be Terraria. Indy game in the same vein as minecraft, but old school 2D side scroller, and with more objectives to achieve. It is a Steamworks protected game so Steam only, and it has done really well. RPS found that during the final week of June it was the #2 seller on Steam, second only to F3AR, which is of course a AAA title and a sequel.

So, those would be the places I would go were I trying to develop indy games. You can also just sell them on your website, of course, but digital services like that offer people a place to browse, and they will promote your game if the circumstances are right. What those circumstances are, I can't tell you as I haven't looked in to it but it is there.

Are they supposed to? (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 3 years ago | (#36669166)

I thought the indie program was to act as an incubator and teach people XBox development. Any profit was to be icing.

ho80 (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36669256)

Missing the Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36669484)

Yes the Indie games on Xbox Live is designed for learning, but for all intents, it's the only "App Store" for the Xbox, and Microsoft has been sorely dropping the ball here.

Two things the Xbox is doing poorly:
a. Not being a General Purpose system, it's so far been relegated to "Toy that also plays movies", despite it having other potential applications if given the right accessories. Kinect has some very good potential for Avatar-based/Machima type movies. You can connect a regular mouse and keyboard because of the standard USB connectors. But good luck finding anything that supports anything but the gamepad. The Gamepad is TERRIBLE for text entry, you need the add-on for it.
b. No intuitive search system of any kind (This problem extends to Zune and Netflix as well.) It's a pain in the ass, there is no way to simply browse anything. If you don't know what you're looking for, you won't find it. There's some interesting Japanese things in the independent games, but you won't find them unless you were looking on the website on your PC.

It's only ahead of the PS3 because of Xbox Live, because non-tampered machines can't cheat, and can't pirate software as easily as the PS3 can. Nobody wants to play with cheating pirates.

The Delta patching system on the Xbox, and the Wii's limited memory are major issues, and Microsoft and Nintendo slipped up pretty bad in the storage department. On the next version of the consoles they should let any USB storage device to be used, and/or SD cards, but use an encrypted file system that is "hidden" from other OS's. This is done easily enough, the XBOX 360 partially does this already, but needs to be actually taken one further step by making the file system locked to the console, and store the decryption keys on the system internal flash storage. If the drive is then put into another Xbox 360, the Xbox Live re-verifies all the software was legally purchased and then authorizes the new XBOX 360. If you put this drive into an Windows PC, it would then only see "drive images" in the file system, but since windows doesn't have keys for it, it can't read it. If by chance Microsoft becomes smart, they could let the games be played on Windows with Live authorization, but denote separate achievements/scores from playing on Windows since the environment is different and much easier to crack.

Re:Missing the Point (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 years ago | (#36669728)

It's not ahead of the PS3 because of piracy, at all...
It has been possible to pirate xbox360 games almost from the very beginning of the console (ie before the ps3 even existed), whereas this has only been possible on the ps3 recently...

The xbox is ahead of the ps3 because its been around longer, its cheaper, xbox live didn't have a massive high profile outage or leak of customers details recently etc...

You could also argue that the earlier availability of piracy on the xbox has helped the platform relative to the ps3, i know quite a lot of people who chose xbox over ps3 years ago because the xbox allowed them to pirate games.
Some of these people pay for xbox live (well you cant pirate a service), pay for additional hardware (Cant pirate that either), and of course are contributing towards the overall market share of the platform. What they don't do, is pay for something they can get massively cheaper elsewhere.

Marketing (1)

JonnyRocks (877543) | about 3 years ago | (#36670744)

Did anyone else get the feeling that the developers thought Microsoft should do something to promote their games. If your game isn't known, then you need to get the word out. No one is going to do it for you. Promote it. Buy an ad. I'm sorry it costs money but that's how it is for everyone.

Thanks for mentioning FortressCraft though (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36671260)

Wow, I've been waiting for a Minecraft console port. Knockoff or not, that looks seriously awesome.

On a related note, does anyone know if there is a website that specifically reviews Xbox Live indie games? I would love to keep track of the best of these, but usually the only way I hear about games like this is haphazardly (like I just did with FortressCraft in this summary). There is so much unoriginal crap on Xbox Live, I really would like a way to separate the wheat from the latest Bejeweled clone.

What about Kotaku Favorites List? (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | about 3 years ago | (#36671418)

While Xbox Live itself doesn't advertise good games, becoming a Kotaku pick, which is listed in the XBLIG interface, should greatly increase visibility and likely profitability too.

I know why... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#36671562)

98% of them utterly suck. I download the "xbox indie" demos on a regular basis and 9 times out of 10 I delete the thing within 30 seconds of trying it because it is complete and utter crap.

In fact I have bought only ONE of them, and honestly it did not have enough re playability or memorability because I cant remember what it's name is.

The good ones are impossible to find because Microsoft does not want to put in a working rating system nor any decent showcase system.

Indie games struggle for profitability... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671950)

News at 11!

Every complaint the article mentions applies equally well to indie games in other markets as well. Guess what, making a good game is hard, and it's even harder to make a good game stand out. Everyone loves to talk about Minecraft, but it's so far past the indie game curve that it might as well not be on it anymore.

Advertising is hard--that's why people can make money doing it for you. Making a good game is hard--same principle. Having both happen for some dude coding out of his parents basement is rare, which is why it's newsworthy. People starting businesses based mainly on hope which subsequently fail, however, is not.

Why I don't buy Indie Games (1)

KeithIrwin (243301) | about 3 years ago | (#36672554)

I bought some, and my daughter (who isn't old enough to have an X-Box Live Account) couldn't play them. The problem is that despite their stated policies when you buy the game, they don't let people without X-Box Live accounts play them and you can't play them if your network connection is down. This is because Microsoft wants to make sure that Indie Games don't do anything naughty, so they require that you check their servers to make sure that the game hasn't been revoked before you play it. When I buy X-Box or X-Box Live Arcade games everyone in my household can play them. When I buy Indie Games, it's just me because I'm the only one with an X-Box Live account (although my wife could certainly sign-up for a free Silver one if she wanted). I bought SuperCow so that my daughter could play it, but Microsoft won't let her. So it's not that I'd never, ever buy an Indie game, but it would have to be really good to overcome that handicap.

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