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Indie RPG Struggles On Xbox, Yet Thrives On Steam

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

Role Playing (Games) 125

derGoldstein writes "Two weeks ago Robert Boyd started offering his two RPGs Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World on Steam, for $2.99 (for both games combined). It fared far better than it had on the Xbox Live Indie channel: 'In less than a week, our Steam revenue has actually exceeded over a year and a half of XBLIG revenue for us.' Hopefully this will prompt more developers to port 'smaller' games over to Steam, especially since many of them can run on low-spec machines, like netbooks."

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Game is mostly crap... but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850138)

The game is mostly crap, but its a brilliant concept so I am glad I paid the 3 bucks for it. A good amount of tounge-in-cheek genre-savvy humor helps round things out. Hopefully this encourages more developers to port games to platforms like this.

Re:Game is mostly crap... but (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 3 years ago | (#36850622)

I wouldn't call it "mostly crap", it's a good example of an indie 16-bit style RPG, like you would find on Super Nintendo. Breath of Death VII is the 8-bit style like NES. Obviously Final Fantasy for NES and Final Fantasy 2 for SNES were big inspirations. Breath of Death does get a little bit tedious and is missing things like background graphics or character animations for combat that even Final Fantasy had. Cthulu Saves The World comes with several "bonus modes" of playing the game and other things to squeeze maximum replay value out of your 16-bit $3 purchase.

Re:Game is mostly crap... but (1)

ConaxConax (1886430) | about 3 years ago | (#36851892)

To me Breath of Death VII seems more like the old Dragon Warrior NES games in its graphical style, both in and out of battle.

Re:Game is mostly crap... but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36853536)

Plus, PC gamers have much better things to play than that crap, xbox users on the other side....

Re:Game is mostly crap... but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850628)

I have to agree, the incredible shittiness of these games makes deriving information about a platform based on their sales rather worthless. At least beyond "you can sell absolutely anything if you put it on the front page of steam for $5".

Re:Game is mostly crap... but (2)

derGoldstein (1494129) | about 3 years ago | (#36851070)

...At least beyond "you can sell absolutely anything if you put it on the front page of steam for $5".

I take this fact alone to be a good thing. This will attract more developers to either port current games to Steam, or develop them simultaneously for multiple platforms *including* Steam. If this happens, then it's just a matter of time before consumers will start being more picky about their choices, and eventually you'll get $5 games that are more than worth the price (of which there already are many).

I can't afford to spend money on dedicated game machines, because of the limitation to play them only at one location. On the other hand, I have PCs almost anywhere I spend time (home, work, travel). I love Steam for many reasons, and one of them is the fact that you can buy anything from a tiny, casual $5 game up to a 40-hour, triple-A RPG, all on the same platform. The addition of more small indie games is always welcome.

Comes down to promotion I think. (2, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | about 3 years ago | (#36850156)

Steam seems far friendlier to indie games. I saw these titles on the front page of the Steam store. I expect they are far harder to find on XBox Live.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (0)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#36850226)

Part of it has to do with having a larger install base. Sure some require more than a typical PC to play, but I'm sure the number of machines that can run the games are significantly higher than the total number of XBoxes out there.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (0)

derGoldstein (1494129) | about 3 years ago | (#36851128)

Many of them only require minimal specs. I have Steam installed on a netbook, and while it's sluggish inside the Steam interface, the games themselves (the ones intended for low-spec machines) run just fine. This flexibility is a huge advantage.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#36853470)

Well that and the fact that the consoles are having such a long cycle this time means that games haven't been pushing PCs for awhile now. Hell even on the 3D games like shooters you'd be surprised what you could still game on.

My oldest nephew had one of my hand me downs which he was using for gaming for ages, a 3.6Ghz P4 with HT and a 7600GS AGP and while he had to turn down the bling his TF2 and Bioshock II played just fine. I just recently took pity on him by upgrading him to a Pentium D and an HD4650 PCIe and while that isn't anywhere near top o' the line I was frankly surprised at how well it played games.

So honestly it really don't take much to enjoy PC gaming anymore. you could probably pick up a $100 PC off of Craigslist that will play everything short of Crysis with a $40 discrete GPU. That's one of the things me and my customers are quite happy about, makes gaming cheap and easy. I have most of the graphics cranked to 10 on my games and my HD4850 cost a whole $60!

I'm happy that Indie gamers are starting to warm up to Steam, as the more choices we have the better. Bring 'em on!

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

BlueMikey (1112869) | about 3 years ago | (#36850248)

Well, and the question is whether he could have gotten on Steam in the first place without getting popular on XBLA in the first place---he'd be nowhere without XBLA. Steam promotes his game on their service because they already know it is popular among those who play it.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (0)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 3 years ago | (#36850542)

[citation needed]. Steam may not carry "bad" games, but they sure promote a ton of unknown (that is, not yet popular) games.

Steam is particularly fantastic with indie games. Just look at the Potato Sack - a large bundle of highly-discounted games that *everybody* (ok, hundreds of thousands) bought because it was tied in to the Portal 2 launch.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | about 3 years ago | (#36851268)

It also doesn't have the super-fast life cycle that you'd see on other systems, in terms of exposure. You'll keep getting offered 3 and 4 year-old games, that are excellent, and cost a third of their launch price. Not to mention that special offers (the ones that last a couple of days) can slash the price of a relatively recent game (~2 years old) to $15 and lower, for a games that launched at $55.

There are also constantly offers of bundles of game "series" and games+DLC, as well as the "Valve Pack" and "Id Pack" -type deals. Most of the games I buy these days aren't full-price, in fact they're usually less than half-price. This wasn't the case 5 years ago.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (3, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 years ago | (#36850352)

No, actually the problem is the opposite. Independent games on steam seem to have some sort of quality control, whereas xbox indie games include a ton of trash that block out the decent items.

Yes. (4, Insightful)

JMZero (449047) | about 3 years ago | (#36850646)

I wandered through the thread for a while to confirm someone had the right answer.

If this was a comparison between "proper" XBox arcade games and Steam, then it would mean something. But "Indie Games" is a wasteland (because of no quality control or promotion of quality games), and none of the XBox owners I know have bothered to look there for a long time.

There's a strong, justified assumption that if something is in "Indie Games", it's trash. MS need to give some attention to helping promote and discover good games, or else Indie Games will continue to wither (despite, reasonably good tools and technology).

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36851038)

XNA is pretty awesome to work with. I've been developing for it for a few months and have absolutely loved it so far.

No link to my current project even though it is relevant to the topic. I don't want anyone to think I'm just here to sell them shit.

Ports to XNA (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852182)

XNA is pretty awesome to work with.

I gather based on what I've read that XNA isn't so awesome if you're trying to port your existing game that wasn't originally written in C#. Or what am I missing?

Re:Ports to XNA (1)

MoriaOrc (822758) | about 3 years ago | (#36852858)

I gather that $PROGRAMMING_API is not so awesome if you're trying to port your $LARGE_PROJECT that wasn't originally written in $LANGUAGES_USED_BY_API.

Re:Ports to XNA (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36853284)

So I guess the answer is to use a different $PROGRAMMING_API. But what's the alternative to XNA for games that aren't in a genre traditionally associated with PCs?

Re:Yes. (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | about 3 years ago | (#36852314)

XNA is decent if you haven't ever used any other middleware or aren't capable of writing the equivalent routines yourself. I was forced to use it in a CS class and then also for one project at work (not a game, long story). In some ways it makes up for lack of decent managed DirectX support.

However.. If you are an "indie developer" today, you are seriously shooting yourself in the foot developing with a MS-only language and middleware. The games from the TFA would be quite portable to mobile devices such as Android and iOS but that isn't going to happen without a complete rewrite. Not to mention other platforms such as OS X, Linux, Playstation, Nintendo.

Re:Yes. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#36853816)

Using the language and the core frameworks is not the problem if you have $$$ to fork out for MonoTouch/MonoDroid. But I don't think anyone has ported XNA yet (even though it can be done, in theory).

Re:Yes. (1)

Danse (1026) | about 3 years ago | (#36851144)

Yeah, I think XBLI needs some kind of "Showcase" section to promote the best of the indie titles and elevate the stuff that is actually interesting and playable above the rest of the crap.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 3 years ago | (#36851856)

"Independent games on steam seem to have some sort of quality control,"
You have to be accepted by Steam in order to have your game on the service. I don't know what the system is on the XBox.

Submission processes (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852358)

You have to be accepted by Steam in order to have your game on the service.

From Steamworks FAQ [steampowered.com] : "For new games we look for unique and interesting gameplay and art, and of course it should be fun!" That doesn't give much detail, especially how much of a budget they're expecting to produce "unique and interesting [...] art". Another technical criterion is that it run on a PC, which has its own limitations such as generally smaller monitors than consoles.

I don't know what the system is on the XBox.

Xbox Live Indie Games, as I understand it [pineight.com] , starts with legal residence in select countries plus paying $99 per year to join App Hub in order to run your game on a console. Other App Hub members perform "peer review", or evaluation of your game against a technical requirements checklist. Some of the requirements include 1. being written entirely in C# (or another verifiably type-safe language supported by XNA), not C++; and 2. not having any dialogue written in the made-up language of a fictional culture. (Sorry, Tolkien wannabes.) If your game passes peer review, it gets added to Indie Games for as long as you maintain your App Hub membership. Indie Games are not available in countries with a government-imposed requirement of classification of all video games for objectionable material.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 years ago | (#36850448)

even if someone found it on xbox, they're more likely to buy it on pc. pc is just better by default, if not for any reason that you usually get to keep your game one way or another and play at more places. quote from art: "Also, apparently, people are starting to pirate our games. If that isn't proof that we've hit it big, I don't know what is," too bad that part isn't true, as a way to spur up some interest in me to get a job now many years ago, I did couple of shareware games for s60(ngage was the best platform to play them with, tbh). they were on warez bots on irc in less than 20 buys from handango(but then again, so was the freeware one! I guess those bots were the best way to find fresh software). but if they got plenty of seeds on their torrents it means they did something right.

Xbox 360 beats PC in local multiplayer (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852094)

pc is just better by default

Not if you have friends over. PCs are perfectly capable of split- or otherwise shared-screen multiplayer play (just connect four USB gamepads and an HDTV), but far more games for Xbox 360 than for PC actually support it. It's a lot cheaper to buy three spare gamepads in case friends visit you than to buy three spare gaming PCs to make a LAN party.

Re:Xbox 360 beats PC in local multiplayer (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | about 3 years ago | (#36853534)

I would really like to see more PC games that support this. I regularly get together with a friend who doesn't do much gaming on his own (due to a lack of adequate hardware) to play some co-op on my PC. The selection of PC games that support this is pretty slim but there are a few good titles such as Shadowgrounds (and its sequel), Magicka, Trine, and a couple more.

I hate to complain about what is out there, but most of these games are really hard to play with a gamepad. Maybe I am just too used to a keyboard and mouse, but multiple keyboard/mouse support (which SDL has had for some time) would be nice. Well, now that the Shadowgrounds source is available, maybe we will eventually see it for that.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 3 years ago | (#36850806)

Consoles in general are not good for RPG games It is really a PC thing. Probably due to the old days RPG needed a keyboard... Although they are less needed now it is probably still a PC mindset to play RPG while you do action games on Consoles.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#36851336)

Wha? These are "CRPG"-style games (ie *console* role playing game). Think Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy, etc. The whole point is they were designed to play on a console without a keyboard, and they have been massively popular for decades...

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

PwnzerDragoon (2014464) | about 3 years ago | (#36851804)

You're thinking of JRPGs. The "C" in CRPG means "computer", and includes game such as Baldur's Gate and Fallout, both decidedly not console-friendly.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#36852060)

Oops, yeah, "JRPG" = "console RPG" :) Oh well, I can't stand console RPGs for the most part, anyway...

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 years ago | (#36853022)

Well, there have been PC RPG's ported to consoles in the past. Not much recently though which surprises me. Wouldn't have been THAT difficult to port the original Fallout's UI to a controller, it's turn based so speed doesn't matter, same goes for Baldur's Gate. If they could port Civ II for gods sakes, then they can port anything.

Re:Comes down to promotion I think. (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 3 years ago | (#36851372)

That is simply untrue. JRPGs are almost always better on console, and are generally designed with consoles in mind.

It's one of the things that separates Ultima from Final Fantasy.

comes down to crappy graphics! (1)

mekkab (133181) | about 3 years ago | (#36850934)

These were on special last week; I actually considered buying them (opted for Lume, which was Win and Mac OS, instead) but PS3 and Xbobx360 are all HDMI look great flashbang boom. The graphics on these boys? To call them "old school" is charitable. And as much as I am on the "playability beats graphics" just last week on the Blood Bowl internet leagues I saw people chatting about how a free java version of blood bowl was "laughable because it wasn't even animated." Good graphics are a REALITY of modern gaming. Do I want to see pixellated crud on my 55" 1080p tv? In the immortal words of Er, "damn no." But on a laptop or on a minimized screen off to the side? sure thing. pop it in and I'll relive my phantasy star days!

Re:comes down to crappy graphics! (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#36851382)

Yeah, just because it looks a little like a CRPG from the 80's, doesn't mean it's as good. If I wanted graphics from 1988 I'd probably just play a good game from 1988...

Re:comes down to crappy graphics! (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36851756)

If I wanted graphics from 1988 I'd probably just play a good game from 1988

Good luck digging out your console from 1988 and getting it to work.

Re:comes down to crappy graphics! (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#36852084)

1988? Hah! I have a working Intellivision from 1980, among others. Ever heard of eBay? :)

Good graphics on a shoestring budget: Possible? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852154)

PS3 and Xbobx360 are all HDMI look great

HDMI is DVI signaling with PCM sound in a different connector. PCs have supported DVI longer than the Xbox 360 has supported HDMI.

flashbang boom.

Stun grenades [wikipedia.org] have been around since Counter-Strike, which predates the original Xbox.

Good graphics are a REALITY of modern gaming.

Say someone wants to express his vision in a video game but has only a shoestring budget. How would you recommend that this person produce worthy graphics?

Well, duh. (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#36850160)

On Steam, the games are promoted with giant images and a discount on the front page every time you visit the site.

On XBLA, finding where the Indie games are is a game in itself. Hell, sometimes even finding a non-indie game that just doesn't happen to be promoted well is difficult. They can't be wasting all that space advertising videogames, after all. They need that precious space so they can sell their paying customers repulsive AXE body spray, beef jerky, cell phone plans, and advertise the latest shitty romantic comedy featuring people you've never heard of.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 3 years ago | (#36850602)

It's not just that. For the steam release, I saw people blogging about it, but I heard nothing about it prior to that.

It's not a surprise to me that an unknown game doesn't get sold. You have to advertise it.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | about 3 years ago | (#36851374)

...For the steam release, I saw people blogging about it

It makes more sense when you consider that it's all on the same platform. If you see a good deal on Steam, and you're on Twitter/Facebook, you're just an Alt+TAB away from recommending it to whomever is following you. This is especially true for short-span offers. It's common to see a tweet like "game X is awesome and it's on Steam for half price right now!". A couple of times I saw a tweet like that while I was working, for a game that I wanted to try out. I just launched the Steam client, made the purchase, and got back to work. This is a scenario that can't happen on a console.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36852942)

not totally true, I actually do most my xbox360 purchases through the web store, not the console. So you can make the experience better on the console, and ride the impulse buy. Just at the moment the xbox marketplace isn't that well layed out for "jumped in from a twitter post, hit purchase, jumped out"

Re:Well, duh. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#36853822)

On Steam, the games are promoted with giant images and a discount on the front page every time you visit the site.

Not just then. They also seem to pop up new game announcements and ads for large-scale sales when you close the game you've been playing, if something new appeared since you last did that - and I believe with some preconfigured frequency (i.e. not more often than 1 per day?).

It sounds annoying, but I actually like it - it gives me reasonable rate of updates, and, despite being a popup, it actually happens at the point where it doesn't interfere with my workflow (I've just closed a fullscreen game, so it doesn't interrupt anything I might be typing etc).

PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console games (3, Insightful)

SoTerrified (660807) | about 3 years ago | (#36850190)

I think it's pretty obvious. There's a lot of PC gamers who grew up with games very much like indie RPGs. Whereas the average console gamer grew up with twitch games. Does it really surprise anyone which platform will be superior for that genre?

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 3 years ago | (#36850290)

Well, maybe if those gamers are ~23 or younger. Anyone who gamed on a Genesis or SNES and earlier wouldn't fit into your average console gamer category.

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

BlueMikey (1112869) | about 3 years ago | (#36850554)

Exactly. This game is a parody of NES area games. It's essentially a take on Dragon Quest, which isn't the type of game that PC gamers grew up with. There are very few PC games that I can think of that fit that mold. If we were looking at some parody of a point-and-click adventure ala Gold Rush, Monkey Island, or King's Quest, sure, PC makes sense. But the Zeboyd games are console thru and thru.

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | about 3 years ago | (#36853570)

I think you mean Dragon Warrior, not Dragon Quest. But anyway, I consider myself a PC gamer through and through (haven't owned a console since the SNES), but I was playing console games long before PC games. Probably because I remember pinching pennies and doing extra chores as a kid to save up for an NES which must have cost ~$120 whereas our family's first computer cost at least $2000, was bought years after I had owned that NES (it was a 386), and was initially reserved for my father's "serious work", not games.

So, there's a bit of nostalgia here. I bet I am not the only PC gamer in this situation either. And these games cost me less than half the price of lunch..

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

BlueMikey (1112869) | about 3 years ago | (#36853608)

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 3 years ago | (#36853832)

Then your original comment doesn't make much sense. What do you mean by "isn't the type of game that PC gamers grew up with"? It's one of the better known classic PC games!

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

0racle (667029) | about 3 years ago | (#36850402)

Hi [rpgclassics.com] ,how are you today [dqshrine.com]

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850564)

Whereas the average console gamer grew up with twitch games.

Citation needed. Unless you just pulled that out of your arse.

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 3 years ago | (#36850754)

PC gamers also grew up without restrictive Steam DRM or any of that "YourPlatform Live" junk.

Enter this word from the manual (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36851778)

PC gamers grew up with "enter this word from the manual" DRM, where losing your manual means you lose the privilege of playing.

Re:Enter this word from the manual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36852040)

Has this happened a lot, really? I have my manuals still, and have never lost a floppy or CD. I just fail to see the Steam fan argument of "at least I never lose stuff anymore". There should not be a "privilege" of playing either, if you buy the game you should OWN IT and not have to rely on a third party to continually grant you permission.

Re:Enter this word from the manual (1)

aekafan (1690920) | about 3 years ago | (#36853096)

Has this happened a lot, really?

Yea, it does. I own 200+ games physically, and don't have a single manual left from them. They are all older games, so even getting them to work on a modern OS is a challenge, and that is for the ones where the disks are still readable. Oh, and for the most part, there is DRM on the disks of the older games as well. I also own 200+ games between Steam and GOG.com, and I greatly prefer the electronic copies I mean, look at the Witcher 2. If you bought the physical copy, you got SecureROM as well. If you got it from Steam, the only DRM was steam itself, and the GOG version had none at all. Just because you have a physical copy doesn't mean you own the game more than any other type of copy.

Re:PC Gamers enjoy indie RPGs more than console ga (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850932)

I am the one-in-a-billion person who plays games on both consoles and PC, so I must have grown up on twitchy RPGs?

Twitchy RPGs (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852392)

I am the one-in-a-billion person who plays games on both consoles and PC, so I must have grown up on twitchy RPGs?

Stuff like Zelda or Mana or other action games incorporating RPG elements [tvtropes.org] , I take it. That or you grew up on first-person shooters and think an RPG is a grenade launcher.

No surprise (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 3 years ago | (#36850216)

Anyone who logs into steam sees the front page sales first thing, and this game was on it IIRC. Also, the update news will show new games for those who stay logged in all the time. Not to mention, steam almost always has some pretty good sales going on (even besides the annual summer sale, which is the best in the business) so its worth checking around for new releases/ specials. I do, anyways, and I suspect a lot of others do as well. Combine this with steams relative ease of use and extreme ease of purchase (seriously: I can have the game downloading in under 30 secs after I decide to buy), and you pretty much have a winner. Not sure how easy it is on Xbox, but it can't be a whole lot easier than steam.

Moreover, PC gamers love cheap indie games like this, much more so IMHO than console games. To be honest, I'm note sure why so many indie developers even target Xbox/PS3. Fear of piracy, maybe? If so, its a BS reason: I'll gladly buy a good 3-5$ (sometimes more) game, and so will many others, even those who will happily pirate more expensive AAA games.

Re:No surprise (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36850404)

Well, fear of piracy isn't really a BS reason. Large numbers of people pirated the humble indie bundle, despite the fact that it could be purchased for $1 (or was it 1 cent?). Some people are just incredibly selfish. I can understand why devs might want to avoid that, even though I think they're making a mistake if they do.

Re:No surprise (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 3 years ago | (#36850566)

True, some people will never buy the game. You won't get money from them in any way.

However, for others the case is different. For instance, I first played World of Goo when a friend pirated it and gave it to me. Never would have played it otherwise. Guess what? I now own it on steam. Never installed it (yet), but I might get around to replaying it on there at some point. Regardless, they now have a sale they wouldn't have had it not been for piracy. Piracy can be an indie games greatest advertiser. The game maker even mentions that: he considered that he'd gone big when his game started being pirated. Piracy means your game is actually popular enough people want to share and play it, and that means people will buy it. Some of them anyways.

Re:No surprise (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36850664)

People always bring up this argument, but it is deeply, deeply flawed.

You assume:
A) That no one who pirates a game would have bought it otherwise. This is false. There are at least some people who would have.
B) That a substantial number of people buy the game after having pirated it. This is true to an extent, but you have no idea how common it is.

If the number of people in category A exceeds the number in category B, then it is a net loss for the developers. The fact that you fall into group B does not mean that most people do.

Re:No surprise (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | about 3 years ago | (#36851062)

The number of people in category A has been demonstrated to be very, very small in every study to date (TorrentFreak links to many of them), while the number of B's is quite high. There are a multitude of studies that show that people who pirate heavily, have also invested lots more money in the medium they pirate than infrequent downloaders.

If I only have $100 monthly to spend on gaming, that's all I have to spend on gaming. Sure, I could pirate beyond that budget because its free, but if somehow magically became unavailable, I'd just have to go without. Most people work in this way if they have any financial wits. Moreover, I would think that frequent pirates who are technically able and very invested in gaming will be the discriminating when choosing what they do with the money they have budgeted for entertainment - I know I am. Many pirates reward developers who make fantastic games and make ethical and user-friendly choices like avoiding DRM. The Humble Bundle, for all the piracy thereof, made MILLIONS regardless! Devs and publishers need to stop looking at imaginary losses and look instead to increasing real gains. Make your game high quality, get rid of draconian DRM and price-gouging DLC, sell it for a reasonable price across as many platforms as you can, and people will buy - simple as that. That's how you get everyone, pirates and non-pirates alike, to use their budgeted entertainment fund for your game.

Re:No surprise (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 3 years ago | (#36851106)

You forgot about
C)All the people who hear about the game from friends who pirated it and then go out and buy it. Probably pretty huge. Granted I didn't explicitly mention it (my bad).

However, the whole debate is rather pointless as no one has any really good numbers. Its nearly impossible to know. I do grant that people who bring this argument up in discussions about AAA titles are probably mostly wrong, what with the amount of marketing/demos those already have (and I can personally say that I generally don't buy those games if I pirate them), but I do think its quite relevant when talking about indie games. My point is that piracy is a bad reason to stay away from PC gaming, especially for an indie developer. Oh, and piracy can (and does) happen on consoles, too, although its not as common, and Sony/Microsoft like to pretend it can't.

Re:No surprise (1)

IICV (652597) | about 3 years ago | (#36851132)

Dude, there was an article on Slashdot just two ago [slashdot.org] saying that the media corporations had suppressed a study showing that B is effectively true for music and video (the study showed that pirates are better customers than non-pirates, which implies that pirates in general are likely to purchase the things that they pirate given that they 1. pirate a lot of stuff and 2. buy a lot of stuff).

Why would you assume that games are be any different?

Re:No surprise (1)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | about 3 years ago | (#36850968)

Many people, including myself, downloaded the humble indie bundles from their favorite torrent site after paying for them. Why should I have to go to the trouble of individually downloading each game through an overloaded http server when I can just grab the torrent?

My point is that the piracy figures for the humble bundles are ridiculously misleading, even for piracy figures.

Single player vs. multiplayer (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36851818)

I'm note sure why so many indie developers even target Xbox/PS3.

For single-player games, I agree with you. For multiplayer games, it's the fact that far more people have a console connected to a TV than have a PC connected to a TV. It's hard to fit you and three mates around a 17" screen.

Re:No surprise (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 3 years ago | (#36851898)

To be honest, I'm note sure why so many indie developers even target Xbox/PS3. Fear of piracy, maybe?
I'd guess because it's another market. In fact, the console market is far larger than the PC market. I think the PC market is something like $1 Billion/year (about half of what it was ten years ago), while the entire game market is something like $30 Billion/year - which is mostly consoles and mobiles.

XBLIG Will Always Fare Poorly (1)

Renaissance 2K (773059) | about 3 years ago | (#36850240)

Why is it that everyone who links to this article uses "Xbox" or "Xbox Live" in the title instead of the more specific (and less newsworthy) "Xbox Live Indie Games?"

There's been a slew of articles lately describing how difficult it is to profit from the XBLIG channel. If the games were on the Xbox Live Arcade and got trounced by Steam, that might be worth reporting. As is, saying a game could not find success on the Indie Games channel is borderline obvious.

Re:XBLIG Will Always Fare Poorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850346)

Because this is Slashdot, and implying that Xbox Live Indie Games is the same as Xbox Live Arcade makes Microsoft looks bad.

Case Closed.

Re:XBLIG Will Always Fare Poorly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850454)

Super Meat Boy. Had over 1 month lead time on XBLA before the Steam release, yet it took just a little over a month after the Steam release for it to exceed XBLA sales.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-01-meat-boy-dev-attacks-microsoft-support-quick-take

Pakistan better be worried (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 3 years ago | (#36850348)

Pakistan better be worried, if India has rocket propelled grenades that run on steam! ... but honestly I'm just reading the headlines.

Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

Lance Dearnis (1184983) | about 3 years ago | (#36850364)

This makes me wonder - seeing the HUGE level of success achieved here, relative to the XBLIG, and compared to PSN Minis, what do people see as the chances of Steam or a Steam-like platform dedicated solely to indie games coming out soon? This story's starting to pick up some major press for an 'Indie' game, enough that other developers are going to see it. I think Steam's going to become a part of all their plans now - they're interested enough in making money to do it. I think the Indie scene is looking better then ever with this result.

Re:Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 3 years ago | (#36850668)

Why make an Indie game section? Indie isn't a category, it's a development path.

By separating them from other sections they get less exposure unless someone specifically looks for it in the indie section. If I'm looking for a racing game I am not going to first look under racing, and then search under indie for any other racing game that might be interesting to me.

If indie gets it's own category it will be the special ed of categories.

If it does not get it's own category then indie will battle head to head with the big dogs, and that is how good indie games will get noticed.

Re:Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 3 years ago | (#36850716)

That sounds like a bad idea to me. I don't have any market research to back it up but it seems like part of the problem with indie games on the XBox is that they're relegated to the separate XBLIG channel. On Steam they're right there on the main page mixed in with everything else, and compared to the more mainstream games they look like a great deal for the price. I expect that making a separate platform for the indie games would drastically cut down on the number of people seeing the games and thus the number of people buying the games.

Re:Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36850742)

Steam already has an Indie game section. Just go to the store, click on "Genres" and select "Indie". Considering that, at any given time, there are at least a couple indie games on the front page, I think Valve is very serious about pushing indie titles. Most likely because they tend to be low cost, meaning that they can be impulse buys, and thus generate more revenue than $50 non-AAA games.

Re:Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | about 3 years ago | (#36851526)

Most likely because they tend to be low cost, meaning that they can be impulse buys, and thus generate more revenue than $50 non-AAA games.

The impulse buy is certainly a big part of it. I'm not going to lose any sleep on a $5 mistake, but if I by a $50 game that I get tired of after a couple of hours, it'll really bug me. Because of this, I won't wait for there to be 15 reviews on metacritic for a $5 game -- if I see just a couple of recommendations, and I know it's the type of game I'll probably like, then I'll just take the chance. Sure, I've been burnt a couple of times, but there were far more cases where I found I really fun time-sink for spare change.

Re:Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 3 years ago | (#36853476)

That's the way it works for me. Having been burned a few times on the $50 titles I'd rather take that same money and buy a whole bunch of cheaper games in the hope one or two will be genuinely entertaining. The problem is I don't stop at $50.

Re:Steam Indie Game Section Coming? (1)

PwnzerDragoon (2014464) | about 3 years ago | (#36851934)

It's been done, it's called Desura [desura.com] . It's focused on indie games and mods, though there's a few older AAA games on it as well.

It's not Steam (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 3 years ago | (#36850384)

It's simply PC. Although Steam is the most popular distribution channel for the PC, indie games for the PC also sell well through other channels.
It's just a major difference in culture for the gamers.

Re:It's not Steam (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | about 3 years ago | (#36850572)

Plus most of the stuff on the indie games bit is generally pretty shit, it's mostly filled with top down zombie shooters and what look like people's test builds or my first game kinda thing. Either that or some Avatar manipulator. There are gems in there but you mostly find out about them elsewhere and look them up rather find by chance browsing the channel.

Robotron (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36851876)

Plus most of the stuff on the indie games bit is generally pretty shit, it's mostly filled with top down zombie shooters

Don't knock Robotron clones. Doom is what you get when you balance a first-person shooter as if it were Robotron [vectorpoem.com] . If you're referring to poorly balanced Robotron clones, on the other hand, that's another thing entirely. I don't yet own an Xbox 360 console, so I can't know firsthand just yet.

There are gems in there but you mostly find out about them elsewhere

How would you recommend that Microsoft discover which are any good and promote them?

Platform (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36850558)

The issue is the Indie games are tucked nicely into their own, harder to reach category on XBL. Steam offers full fledged games, and indie games alike on their front page. Hopefully Microsoft updates this at some point.

nobody does research (1)

calderra (1034658) | about 3 years ago | (#36850630)

Has anyone here actually bothered looking at all or is everyone just assuming? xbla provides a list of top rated and most downloaded games, Indie rpgs are all over those lists, including cthulu. And the marketplace has a new games section too, so cthulu got advertising. I'm not really sure what to make of this. Unless people are just so lazy or uninformed that nobody bothers to check out the Indie games on Xbox. Or if steam's level of purchasing is just that high.

Re:nobody does research (1)

JMZero (449047) | about 3 years ago | (#36850800)

And the marketplace has a new games section too...

Yes - I'm sure they had a few minutes in the sun before they got pushed off by "XBox Massage Master" and "Avatar Tic-Tac-Toe: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS chapter 1 by PandaStar Studio in co-operation with JohnnyFyre".

Has anyone here actually bothered looking at all or is everyone just assuming?

Yes. Most everyone with an XBox and non-infinite time (at least among people I know) has given up even scrolling over to the Indie Games new releases. Anytime I've heard Indie Games discussed among developers, it has been in the context of "How can I get out of the Indie Games ghetto and into the regular Arcade games where someone might give the game a try?"

Unless people are just so lazy or uninformed that nobody bothers to check out the Indie games on Xbox.

You don't have to be lazy or uninformed to get tired of checking Indie Games. I have regretted it every time I've bothered to download something. A game has to be pretty bad before I resent the 5 minutes it took to check it out... and they've been consistently that bad.

XBLIG is a joke. (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#36850706)

It is no surprise. The good game to crap ratio in XBLIG is terrible just due to the nature of how games are put there, and games have almost no chance of making a real profit there. There's no proper advertising or anything. You just dump your game there and spread advertising through word of mouth yourself. Advertise yourself, and hope you can make some money.

Steam is different. They advertise (a lot) for you, help you pick out a good price, have all sorts of awesome deals you can arrange. It's a wonderful place to make money.

I bought the games (1)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | about 3 years ago | (#36850760)

Haven't played them yet (and don't know when I will - probably not before September), but I bought them because the developer actually priced them HONESTLY - usually there's a $1 = 1â parity on Steam, but this package was 1.99â. In fact, that's even cheaper than $2.99! Mind asplodes!

So, essentially, the guy got my money because he isn't a greedy, obnoxious jerk who thinks that it's fine to charge European customers 40% extra. That's damn rare, and deserves an applause. And money, too.

Re:I bought the games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36853760)

Generally speaking, the platform holder (Valve for Steam, Microsoft for XBL, Sony for PSN) determines the currency exchange rate, not the developer.

A good start - Time to reject Consoles (2)

RanceJustice (2028040) | about 3 years ago | (#36850794)

I bought the bundle on Steam, because I like to support indie games and 2 games for $2.50 was the right indie price. As it turns out, both are excellent titles in the vein of the old Dragon Warrior series and I look forward to further offerings. Steam offers great promotion whenever they run one of their sales or announce something new, and I'm very glad that they extend this courtesy to indie games selling for under $5 as they do big-name AAA titles.

  Personally, I feel that we in its entirety, we no longer need game consoles - they're a relic of a day when affordable computing was generally of singular purpose. Today, consoles are more PC-like than ever, save for restrictive OSes and locked down tech to limit doing things to "The Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo" way. Its pretty much holding games hostage - "If you want to play Metal Gear Solid 4, you have to buy a PS3, abide by its rules, use PSN to go online for multiplay etc...". Every game from the indie set to the biggest corporate AAA kit is developed on PCs..so let them play on PCs as well. Many of us own PCs and it costs less to outfit them for gaming with more power and control available for the money. Peripherals and controllers can easily be sold separately and used on a PC - most already are and Microsoft's full support of the X360 controller under Windows shows this in action (Compare to Sony's refusal to put together a driver package for the Dual Shock 3, so you have to use 3rd party hacked drivers and give up an entire bluetooth dongle. Nobody is buying Dual Shock 3 to play PC games or emulators, for the most part, where people are using Logitech F710 and X360 types). I can't think of a single reason for consoles to still exist, save for greed and to a lesser extent "tradition". It angers me further to see the "consolization" of powerful multiuse hardware into locked down content delivery platforms (ie. iOS etc...)

Especially Indie developers who run on shoestring budgets, casting your lot with Steam, Humble Indie Bundles, Desura and other "friendly" digital distribution services is a good move. You'll have quite a bit more freedom than the console stores and have a better chance of your target audience equipped to play your game and willing to invest, especially with niche titles. There are things that I wish Steam would do better (ie. Linux Client.) but they do provide a great value in advertising, showing your game directly to people that buy other games whenever they log in. Consoles seem intent on extorting as much money as possible for everything and their taint has crossed to the PC world quite some time ago, such aswhen Oblivion's PC version had paid Horse Armor DLC on 360, they couldn't provide it for free on PC. Many console (and consolized-favoring) platform owners talk a good game about "develop for our platform and you'll have access to all these people who do X, Y, and Z and you'll be rich.", but those words are just wind. PC development give you choices and allows you to easily port, use or make any tools you desire and basically create as you wish without limits and with plenty of options.

Re:A good start - Time to reject Consoles (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#36850914)

Its pretty much holding games hostage

Yes, because Sony and Microsoft and Nintendo are forcing people to make games for their consoles contrary to their will.

Re:A good start - Time to reject Consoles (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | about 3 years ago | (#36851470)

Well, if you look at some of the agreements necessary (especially in years past - look at the whole Official Nintendo Seal of Quality debacle), it has limited what developers can do, though not as much as it once did. Exclusives and timed exclusives still persist, sometimes in contract but I wasn't really referring to console manufacturers holding games hostage "by themselves", but rather the entire industry - development, publishing etc... is creating games in a way that isn't to the benefit of the user.

Take any Console exclusive, like aforementioned Metal Gear Solid 4. If one wants to enjoy that game, you have to purchase a PS3 and all necessary peripherals and use PSN for online play, abiding by the rules Sony sets down which as we've seen are pretty draconian. Now, MGS4 could easily run on the PC I'm typing this upon. Hell, Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess runs at 1920x1080 on this PC, using the Dolphin Emulator and hooking up my Wiimote w/bluetooth - I'm actually getting a better experience on PC! Yet, neither of those titles are available on the PC despite the better experience it would provide. Consoles require an additional equipment purchase of fixed prices just to run the game and add a level of proprietary lockdown because of it - Its not "your" console, its not "your" game, its not "your" online service, its "theirs", and either you conform to their rules, or you can't play. So you have to go through agreeing to pay lots of money for hardware and software that is tightly controlled in how it may be used, or you can't play these games. This is what I mean by "hostage".

We've come to a sad time in gaming where the industry seems to see the players as "the enemy", to be wrung as tightly as possible until every last cent drips from them, while giving them just enough to keep them coming back. Consoles are an extension of this now and a way to wrest control away from the user. They are no longer necessary technologically and we shouldn't have to put up with these draconian regulations just to have access to the games we want.

Re:A good start - Time to reject Consoles (1)

Deadguy2322 (761832) | about 3 years ago | (#36851218)

Go fuck yourself. PC gaming is for basement-dwelling virgins who have nothing better to do than troubleshoot for hours before playing and love wasting money on constant hardware treadmill bullshit.

17" monitor vs. 34" TV (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852004)

What you say is perfectly true for single-player but not multiplayer.

Every game from the indie set to the biggest corporate AAA kit is developed on PCs..so let them play on PCs as well.

How big is a typical PC monitor? 17" to 19" diagonal viewable image size. Some laptops are smaller, some desktops are bigger, but take that as a median. How big is a living room TV? Twice that, which means four times the area, enough for you and three mates instead of just you.

have a better chance of your target audience equipped to play your game

Except people aren't equipped to play a multiplayer indie game. Any TV made in the past five years VGA and HDMI inputs on which PCs are perfectly capable of displaying video, but CronoCloud and other Slashdot users tell me that the "home theater PC" install base is so minuscule that an HTPC-targeted game would not be profitable. (I can provide citations if you wish.) So how do indie game developers convince the general public to connect PC to TV?

The problem is ratings. . . (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 3 years ago | (#36851036)

Most people aren't willing to drop five, or even three, bucks on a game that they've never heard of or never played. Without some sort of input, whether from a review, or friend's recommendation, or a demo, I won't buy a game, even if it does cost less than a trip to McDonald's.

What I would really like to see is an average time-played ratings system in Steam, XBLA, etc. I'd like to be able to log in to the Steam store, search for games at the $5 point, and then look at the ones that people have played for more than ten or twenty minutes (I have several of those, like Altitude, which just didn't catch my interest). Limit it to purchases that have actually been installed and launched, and I bet you could get a pretty good disguised ratings system out of it. Include some sort of algorithm to account for newly-released (maybe one week-old?) games, and I think it would be very useful.

Re:The problem is ratings. . . (1)

JMZero (449047) | about 3 years ago | (#36852196)

Most people aren't willing to drop five, or even three, bucks on a game that they've never heard of or never played.

Every XBL Indie Games release has to have a free demo (and they give you help in the platform API to manage locked features/time-limiting/etc.. they did have some good ideas with this platform). You never have to buy a game sight unseen.

But you're right anyways.

Why? Because after a while, people aren't just unwilling to pay for a game. If the games are bad enough - and XBL Indie Games is a perfect platform for displaying how bad games can be - people will become unwilling to even browse titles. So, yes, any metric that could be used to filter out ridiculous chaff would be very helpful to the platform.

Re:The problem is ratings. . . (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 3 years ago | (#36852884)

I didn't realize XBL indies were required to have a demo - I do all my gaming on PC, and have never even used XBL (I only have a 360 because of MS's free 360 promo this summer). But I get very annoyed when games don't have a demo - I'm not a programmer, but I can't believe they take much more effort to make once you've actually finished a game. So when a game doesn't have a demo, I just assume that it's like when production companies don't allow prescreenings of big films - it usually means they're very, very bad.

Sure, that's not fair to the few good games where Accounting said, "No, we're not going to pay two guys for another week to cut out Worlds 1-3 through 8-4 just to make a demo," but it's not my fault that their marketing and accounting departments are out of touch with the real world.

yuo 7Ail it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36851248)

Standpoint, I don'7 But with NetcraFt OpenBSD. How many are having trouble

A more under-the-radar reason XBLA/XBLIG sucks. (1)

inAbsurdum (1028514) | about 3 years ago | (#36851872)

Apart from the obvious quality/crap ratio problem, there's also the MS points as currency conundrum. Why do some (mostly media) corporations insist on obfuscating prices with native point systems? It doesn' matter that they make odd bucks by uneven surplusses when people buy way way less by having to jump through extra hoops just to make a microtransaction? I buy 1/2/3/5-dollar apps all the time for iOS, and would probably do the same in Steam if I was a PC/Mac gamer, but on Xbox Live, when I have to buy big chunks of MS points at confusing rates and quantities? No thanks. And I'm sure that's a big part of the problem for XBLA/XBLIG. Just let people see the real price and buy with a single click (okay okay, thumbstick depress).

Billions of people have no "dollars" (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36852466)

I buy 1/2/3/5-dollar apps all the time for iOS

Not everybody lives in a country that calls its currency a "dollar". I guess is so that a "point" will have roughly the same value in all regions, modulo short-term currency fluctuation and whether it is the custom in a given country to include sales tax in a list price.

Congrat to the author of the games (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 3 years ago | (#36853056)

He just won two sales after I read the review. Already downloading.

Except (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36853804)

10 years ago you could have achieved this on the PC market without steam...

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