With a certain other issue going on in gaming I decided to leave this article for a bit but oddly as there’s been a development today I thought I’d go for it.
How long would you wait to be paid for your actual work ? Maybe end of the week for some Maybe end of the month for others How about if you were selling something a product via another company, how long would you wait ?
I’m pretty sure if you released your product on 1st of July you would expect to have seen some payment before now, right ? Well that’s the curious state the indie developers who release only on the Xbox Live Indie games service have found themselves in. You see under the XNA developer rules Microsoft has no obligation to pay the developers until up to 45 days after the quarter. In other words Microsoft has in the rules that they will only pay you every 4 ½ months approximately. Additionally in the rules they refuse to talk to developers or even tell them about any payment issues until 60 days after the quarter (so they won’t even talk to its own developers until they are 2 months late paying).
“Oh they’re indie developers they should be happy to have their stuff on xbox it’s not like they even have to pay the $40k patch costs XBLA developers have to” is what the defence will no doubt be to this. Now while you might think this the developers are paying. The XNA developer service costs $100 a year to be a member of and along with this any game you publish Microsoft will take a 66% cut out of. Now the Standard indie game price is 80 Microsoft points with some selling at 240. To break even a developer has to produce a game that will sell 300 copies. That’s to break even on XNA costs alone and does not include you know food and living costs, or 100 copies at 240 points. It doesn’t sound a huge amount but XNA games don’t sell too well unless they happen to be filling the need for a certain popular game like the previous lack of a console version of minecraft.
Not my video, warning adverts can be expected
So why this issue and why now ?
Well last quarter Microsoft were late, late beyond their own 45 day extension where they can hold payment back. OK it was only one day but it was still late and it caused a few XBLIG developers to wonder what was going on as its still over a month late on when the payment was due officially even if it was only 1 day beyond what Microsoft feel is an acceptable delay. Well this quarter Microsoft was late again. How late ? Well a grand total of 7 days late. That’s 7 days on top of their 45 day acceptable delay period.
So why is this becoming an issue ? Well if you develop an app for the windows phone you get paid regularly every month with only a 10 day delay period during which they are often still paid the only missing information is often their sales figures which can take 10 days to generate though the money still gets to them. Now with that happening XBLIG developers are starting to get a bit annoyed to have Microsoft taking a large cut of their sales and still claiming there’s a reason for the 45 day delay, not just the sales figures but to the actual pay itself. This added to the fact that Microsoft then won’t even tell the developers why the payment is late to a further 2 weeks beyond the 45 day delay period it’s a bit beyond a joke as I’m sure most people would want to know the reason for a delay quickly after the official pay day if someone fails to pay you. So it’s pretty impressive and a show of good will that XBLIG developers have been waiting for the 45 days delay alone, but for Microsoft to go beyond this is pushing good will a bit.
Apparently Microsoft might have been shifting a little as with Windows 8 wanting developers to verify their app for the store, to have developers pointing out issues with them paying its not great PR for them. Quite how true this is who knows but it does make sense that this is kind of a critical time for Microsoft especially with their attempts to get windows 8 see and the next must have operating system.