Any indie developer will tell you it’s a challenge to create the title of your dreams, but the bigger hurdle by far is getting the game published and distributed — by someone that won’t rape you for all you’re worth. In a recent Gamasutra editorial by Ron Carmel of 2D Boy (developer of World of Goo), he takes a conversational tone towards Microsoft while addressing what he identifies as their three key moves that have turned off indie developers:
1. Xbox Live Arcade royalties cut by about half
2. De-listing of games from XBLA
3. Xbox Live Community Games terms established
Ouch. We certainly are aware of those first two, as they have been discussed to death by developers and fans alike, but Carmel goes on to address the flaws in the recent Xbox Live Community Games announcement, pointing out price limitations and how game promotion can be a double-edged sword:
“If the royalty rate drops from 70 percent to 40 percent for the promotional period, the promotion would barely affect the developer’s bottom line, only stuffing Microsoft’s pockets. Worse, if sales do not nearly double, developers actually lose money due to the promotion. Nickel and diming developers will not help XBLCG get the best games and is in my opinion a myopic strategy.”
Will any of Carmel’s opinions make a difference to a behemoth like Microsoft? I want to say it’s unlikely, but at the same time I applaud him for standing up and clarifying thoughts that many others may have, but don’t speak aloud. The indie pool is where some of today’s most dynamic ideas are coming from, and I can only hope the courage Carmel displayed in speaking his mind here will be an inspiration to others to stand up for the games they create.