An informal “indie census” conducted Ron Carmel of 2D Boy (World of Goo) reveals what many people already suspected: the best developers are releasing games elsewhere and working with Microsoft to release a game can be “excruciating” compared to others platforms.
But unlike many people with an opinion on the subject, Carmel’s has the hard numbers to back up his claims. He also offers solutions. In the manifesto of sorts posted on the 2D Boys website, he outlines ten ways to fix the XBLA experience.
His first suggestion is to fix the contracts Microsoft hands out.
Carmel writes (emphasis is his own): “Create a fair contract that doesn’t require negotiation. Everyone I know who’s been handed Microsoft’s boilerplate distribution contract for XBLA was angered and offended. It’s the most exploitative, one-sided distribution contract I’ve seen. I suspect it’s a holdover from the days where Microsoft only dealt with large publishers/developers and contracts were handled by teams of lawyers on both sides.”Lawyers are probably used to conducting this kind of adversarial negotiation that begins with an unreasonably one-sided version. Smaller developers that don’t have a legal department are not used to this sort of thing.
“We each waste months of our time and Microsoft’s time negotiating the same stuff out of the contract, over, and over again. All that time, and in some cases money, would be much better spent making the game better. Efficiency aside, it’s a terrible way to begin a business relationship.”
To read the rest of Carmel’s suggestions, along with his evidence and methodology, check out his blog.