Indie Developer Complains Console Sales Don't Justify Cost

Indie Developer Complains Console Sales Don't Justify Cost

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Introversion Software says Microsoft's development fees make indie games an impossible sell on consoles.

Introversion Software has been working on its latest title Prison Architect for a while now but, although it dreams of taking its game to Steam, an Xbox release isn't on the agenda. Introversion's co-founder Mark Morris says that's because he remembers what it was like trying to strike a deal with Microsoft over Darwinia+, and doesn't want to repeat that costly experience.

Microsoft's development kit, a $10,000 entry fee, is well beyond Introversion's ability to pay. "It's ridiculous," says Morris, "and it's non-refundable once you've bought it. You've got to pay ... I think our quality assurance bill was $30,000 for testing with Darwinia+, and it took four years to get the game certified to a standard that Microsoft wanted." Sales didn't justify the expense, particularly not when compared to the PC version's sales figures.

Morris went on to claim that indie developers were second class customers, as far as the console makers are concerned. He lamented that Microsoft and Sony insisted on having first release rights and exclusive content for indie games, particularly given that the indie console market didn't justify that kind of outlay in time or money.

"If they want to work with us," Morris concluded, "and if they want indie games on their systems, they're going to have to change quite a lot to make it attractive."

Prison Architect, the world's first lock-em-up, is currently in alpha, and can be had via the developer's site.

Source: VG24/7

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Sounds like Microsoft gave Morris a hard time.

He is only another in a long list of people who say this. M$ and Sony, as big publishers themselves, don't give a damn about developers costs or needs. This is why PC is the best platform for indie development. You can distribute them yourself or go through one of the various digital platforms to get it out there. M$ pathetic quality control costs are perhaps the biggest insult to developers. It's damn expensive to put your shit on XBLA, and that isn't taking into account the cost of waiting the ridiculous amount of time it takes.

I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

FloodOne:
I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

Directly from the website;

Base Pack:

Get Instant access to the Prison Architect Alpha (PC and Mac) and you also get a pre-order of the full finished game (PC, Mac and eventually Linux) in all it's glory - if we're lucky enough to get on Steam we'll also give you a steam key. We're planning on releasing regular updates and you'll get access to all of these as well as private access to a wiki and forums where we'll be discussing the game.

And the base pack is the lowest tier. You might want to use your eyes a bit more next time.

A Bit More OT: It seems that Microsoft is becoming a bit more controlling every day. It's pretty sad, especially when most awesome stuff originates from open platforms.

I think it's been pretty clear for a while now that consoles just aren't a worthwhile proposition for the vast majority of indie games.

Did they maybe try with Nintendo?
Several indie developer were praising how Nintendo is working with indie developer and how they are giving them a nice initiative to put their games on the WiiU. IIRC the Toki Toki developer said that Nintendo's offers are by far better than those of Sony and MS.

Also, even tho I understand what he's saying, I can't have sympathy for someone who charges 30$ for a game in the alpha stage. For fucks sake, I got Minecraft for 10$ when it was in aplha. Now it's ~30$. No matter what they think, being int he alpha stage is NOT a privilege. The people are basically alpha tester. They are there to find the bugs. While big companies are paying people to be alpha tester, this guys act like they are doing you a favor by ripping you off.

V8 Ninja:

FloodOne:
I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

Directly from the website;

Base Pack:

Get Instant access to the Prison Architect Alpha (PC and Mac) and you also get a pre-order of the full finished game (PC, Mac and eventually Linux) in all it's glory - if we're lucky enough to get on Steam we'll also give you a steam key. We're planning on releasing regular updates and you'll get access to all of these as well as private access to a wiki and forums where we'll be discussing the game.

And the base pack is the lowest tier. You might want to use your eyes a bit more next time.

A Bit More OT: It seems that Microsoft is becoming a bit more controlling every day. It's pretty sad, especially when most awesome stuff originates from open platforms.

$30 is still high considering that there are much better overall complete games that come out from $15-$20. Hell, games with much higher overall production value like Torchlight have come out at $20.

Now $30 is a lot of money to be asking to pay into for an alpha game. Considering that Minecraft wasn't even half that price when it was in alpha, that means that this game better have the best alpha ever played. @FloodOne has a reason to criticize them here for the price.

T'Generalissimo:
I think it's been pretty clear for a while now that consoles just aren't a worthwhile proposition for the vast majority of indie games.

Pretty much no one buys a console for indie games anyway that's what iPhone and Android are for.

Why is he* buying the non-indie/AAA commercial console development kit?

Why not use the real indie tools?
http://xbox.create.msdn.com/en-us/home/membership

There are two licenses out there:
The indie license, which is extremely cheap, but when your game hits a certain threshold Microsoft starts a take 25% of the profits.

The commercial license which is the one described above, however the creators/publishers don't have to pay Microsoft other than the certification fees.

Pay what your competitors are paying or get a publisher to pay it* for you. If you choose the indie route it is going to be more expensive.

AzrealMaximillion:

V8 Ninja:

FloodOne:
I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

Directly from the website;

Base Pack:

Get Instant access to the Prison Architect Alpha (PC and Mac) and you also get a pre-order of the full finished game (PC, Mac and eventually Linux) in all it's glory - if we're lucky enough to get on Steam we'll also give you a steam key. We're planning on releasing regular updates and you'll get access to all of these as well as private access to a wiki and forums where we'll be discussing the game.

And the base pack is the lowest tier. You might want to use your eyes a bit more next time.

$30 is still high considering that there are much better overall complete games that come out from $15-$20. Hell, games with much higher overall production value like Torchlight have come out at $20.

Now $30 is a lot of money to be asking to pay into for an alpha game. Considering that Minecraft wasn't even half that price when it was in alpha, that means that this game better have the best alpha ever played. @FloodOne has a reason to criticize them here for the price.

I'm not judging whether the package is a good deal. FloodOne said that he was paying for the "Privilege" to play the alpha when the package clearly states that purchasers will get the full game when it is completed for every mainstream OS. Granted, Prison Architect may never be completed and that is a fair criticism.

Also, obligatory comment about how some people will find more value in certain games than others and how there is no completely objective measurement of value or quality.

V8 Ninja:

AzrealMaximillion:

V8 Ninja:

Directly from the website;

And the base pack is the lowest tier. You might want to use your eyes a bit more next time.

$30 is still high considering that there are much better overall complete games that come out from $15-$20. Hell, games with much higher overall production value like Torchlight have come out at $20.

Now $30 is a lot of money to be asking to pay into for an alpha game. Considering that Minecraft wasn't even half that price when it was in alpha, that means that this game better have the best alpha ever played. @FloodOne has a reason to criticize them here for the price.

I'm not judging whether the package is a good deal. FloodOne said that he was paying for the "Privilege" to play the alpha when the package clearly states that purchasers will get the full game when it is completed for every mainstream OS. Granted, Prison Architect may never be completed and that is a fair criticism.

Understood. I'd also like to add that not too many games in general ask for $30 upfront for an alpha test though.

Also, obligatory comment about how some people will find more value in certain games than others and how there is no completely objective measurement of value or quality.

See this argument always bothered me, but because it assumes a lot. Yeah, some people do find different values in certain games but there is a majority value range 9 times out of 10. Majority of games that are offering to be bought in alpha are $10. Maybe $15. $30 is expensive to be asking compared to the overall market of indie games. And like I said, there are a lot of qualities that other, cheaper indies games have had that then when compared to Prison Architect's current state are qualitatively better. And it begs of the developers of this game to be questioned, "what makes them think their game is worth 3 times as much as Minecraft was in Minecraft's alpha stage?" "Do they think that their game is as good as Minecraft now?" 'What makes them think their alpha game will be as good as games half its price?"

I guess my point is that $30 alphas are pretty rare so this game's developers better have the utmost confidence in charging that.

Baldr:
Why is buying the non-indie/AAA commercial console development kit?

Why not use the real indie tools?
http://xbox.create.msdn.com/en-us/home/membership

There are two licenses out there:
The indie license, which is extremely cheap, but when your game hits a certain threshold Microsoft starts a take 25% of the profits.

The commercial license which is the one described above, however the creators/publishers don't have to pay Microsoft other than the certification fees.

Pay what your competitors are paying or get a publisher to pay if for you. If you choose the indie route it is going to be more expensive.

That's a good question. Someone should ask them that directly and see what their response is to that.

FloodOne:
I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

As others have said, you also get the full version.

If you're worried about the quality of the finished product, play their back catalog. I think all their games are top-notch quality, even if they weren't really my cup of tea.

And if $30 is too much for you, then that's just a matter of price; I know that I almost always wait for games to go on sale, regardless of quality. I waited for Red Orchestra 2 to drop below $10, even though I loved the first one.

BiH-Kira:
Did they maybe try with Nintendo?
Several indie developer were praising how Nintendo is working with indie developer and how they are giving them a nice initiative to put their games on the WiiU. IIRC the Toki Toki developer said that Nintendo's offers are by far better than those of Sony and MS.

Well when they need you all expenses are put aside, it's no different when MS or Sony take you under their wing, but only WiiU is in desperate need of devs right now while the other two can squeeze people for all their worth.
There are lower tier options for indie devs but they come with severe limits, when you play with the big boys you can expect to be shoved around.

But at the same time they charge an absurd amount for their simple ass game... maybe some self-contemplation wouldn't be out of place.

FloodOne:
I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

they came out and made it clear the reason for the price being so high now, is that they don't want casual spam on the beta forum.

now wither the release for $30 is a special edition, or standard base price is another question. i agree its to high to engage the market.

we may find this is $30 for pre release, with beta access and some forum stuff, and maybe latter DLC, and the standard post release is $20

FloodOne:
I'm not paying $30 for the "privilege" to play an alpha version of this game. Any empathy I might have had for the dev went out the window once I visited their site.

You are making it sound like they are requiring you to pay $30 right now, for the alpha, in order to get or play the game. That is simply silly. It is not a money grub tactic, its asking people who are interested in the premise and their previous games to pre-order the game very early (and support the development process in doing so), with the added benefit of being able to test the game and give input into the development. If you don't want to pay $30 "for an alpha", you don't have to, you can wait and pay when its more developed.

It doesn't matter what Minecraft did or charged, because this is not Minecraft. Just because one game gave an early adopter price chop of that magnitude does not mean it is to be expected.

I'd have to think that they took the XBLA route compared to the indie channel one because the indie channel is buried under hundreds of crap titles and never sell well enough. Hell once Minecraft was an XBLA game, those rip-offs of it on the indie channel quit selling like they did.

If XBLA wasn't an expensive pain in the ass for indie developers, I'm sure we'd see Torchlight 2 on there like the first one was.

 

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