Castle Crashers Dev: XBLA Critical to Indie Community

Castle Crashers Dev: XBLA Critical to Indie Community

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The Behemoth's John Baez reckons the console indie community "would not exist" without XBLA.

It turns out the 360 is absolutely trouncing the competition when it comes to indie titles; At least, according to Behemoth's John Baez, as quoted by Official Xbox Magazine. Behemoth's Castle Crashers is one of XBLA's more notable success stories. The light-hearted brawler rarely drops out of the service's top ten sales chart, having shifted over 2 million copies to date. Baez not only credits XBLA with the success of his title, but with the rise of the console indie scene in general.

"I think without a doubt the indie console community would not exist as it does today if Xbox Live Arcade had been dropped after the original Xbox iteration," Baez said. "No other console hardware manufacturer has had the success of downloadable games that XBLA has had. And many smaller developers have shared in that success."

Not all XBLA veterans are so fond. World of Goo developer, Ron Carmel, posted an in-depth breakdown of what he believes are the service's main failings. Brian Provinciano, of Retro City Rampage fame, claimed "a good 85 percent of developers" have had unpleasant experiences with the service, and accused Microsoft of "nickel and diming" developers. Braid developer, Jon Blow, has misgivings as well, as he detailed in an interview with Gamasutra:

"But if you make an XBLA game, the amount of bullshit that adds is gigantic. It can take a third to a half of the effort required to build your game, in some cases, and I don't think that they understand that. I don't think that they understand that, at least for that size of game, they're competing very heavily with Steam and iOS for developer mindshare."

Despite having voiced concerns about the service's handling of indie games - as opposed to Arcade titles - Xbox Live Indie Games Uprising co-organizer, Dave Voyles, echoed Baez's sentiments.

"I don't believe Microsoft was prepared for the success that it would see, both in terms of the number of devs who were on board, and the volume of people who would browse the marketplace," he said. "Before XBLIG, and even after, there has yet to be an easy avenue for independent devs to get work released without going through a closed platform or dealing with a publisher."

I can't say I disagree with Baez's assessment. Sony has only recently started competing with Microsoft's indie lineup by pushing for PSN exclusives and the Wii's relatively basic online infrastructure almost put it out of the digital race entirely. The recently released Wii U seems better equipped in that regard. The Wii U eShop will allow developers to set their own prices and determine when they have sales, something neither PSN nor XBLA currently allow.

Source: OXM

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This is, assuming, that Steam, Applestore, and Android Market are not part of the competition.
The Humble Blundles and Steam alone have pushed indie gaming on PC rather well.

Unfortunately, people still seem to cling to their consoles when it comes to 'indie' games. Games such as Minecraft, Super Meatboy, Cave Story sold a tremendous amount when they were ported over to consoles, so the demand is always still there. The opposite didn't hold true when popular 'indie' games such as Braid and Castle Crashers were ported over to PC; they sold, but not as much of a boom as the console ports did.

Because developers have a choice. It's not as if having an open platform and no fees of tens of thousands of dollars to release a patch would somehow make it a better place for indie developers.

Absolutionis:
This is, assuming, that Steam, Applestore, and Android Market are not part of the competition.
The Humble Blundles and Steam alone have pushed indie gaming on PC rather well.

I dont believe that he is saying that it was the best push but the first one to be made, which I agree.

josemlopes:

Absolutionis:
This is, assuming, that Steam, Applestore, and Android Market are not part of the competition.
The Humble Blundles and Steam alone have pushed indie gaming on PC rather well.

I dont believe that he is saying that it was the best push but the first one to be made, which I agree.

Now i actually went to check up on that, XBLIG was only launched back in 2008, yet Steam was supporting independent developers as far back as 2005.

Critical for =/= good for. They're just as much an impediment at this point.

Captcha: tinker's dam
That IS an apt comparison captcha

Absolutionis:
. The opposite didn't hold true when popular 'indie' games such as Braid and Castle Crashers were ported over to PC; they sold, but not as much of a boom as the console ports did.

That just isn't true for most indie games. Castle Crashers was just release on Steam 3 years after release. The reason that game didn't sell was because it came out at $15. A little high for a 3 year old port considering a lot of indie games on Steam come out at $10 brand new or $20+ if they're more ambitious projects. And I doubt people would spend $20 on Castle Crashers.

Braid didn't sell well because its another indie platformer in the massive stagnant sea of PC indie platformers. That and pricing upon PC release was $20. Again, no one wants to pay $20 for a short game when they can spend $10 and get double to triple the game with equal production value.

The idea that popular indie games don't sell better on PC isn't true thought. Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII sold tenfold on PC than on XBLA. Darwinia's release on the XBLA almost killed the developer as a company due to the hassle of dealing with MS.

AzrealMaximillion:

Absolutionis:
. The opposite didn't hold true when popular 'indie' games such as Braid and Castle Crashers were ported over to PC; they sold, but not as much of a boom as the console ports did.

That just isn't true for most indie games. Castle Crashers was just release on Steam 3 years after release. The reason that game didn't sell was because it came out at $15. A little high for a 3 year old port considering a lot of indie games on Steam come out at $10 brand new or $20+ if they're more ambitious projects. And I doubt people would spend $20 on Castle Crashers.

Braid didn't sell well because its another indie platformer in the massive stagnant sea of PC indie platformers. That and pricing upon PC release was $20. Again, no one wants to pay $20 for a short game when they can spend $10 and get double to triple the game with equal production value.

The idea that popular indie games don't sell better on PC isn't true thought. Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII sold tenfold on PC than on XBLA. Darwinia's release on the XBLA almost killed the developer as a company due to the hassle of dealing with MS.

Don't get me wrong, I love PC games first and foremost.

However, an indie title released on PC oftentimes ends up selling rather well on consoles as well when rereleased some time later.
Indie games on consoles, however, when ported to PC don't do too well.

You do have a great point though that I didn't consider. PC indie games are everywhere, and to become a star in that sea, it requires a ton of quality; put that quality on a console and it (usually) sells great.
Consoles, on the other hand, have prohibitively annoying barriers of entry for indie games, so not many exist. A star in a puddle is forgettable when ported over to the oceanic PC.

Absolutionis:
This is, assuming, that Steam, Applestore, and Android Market are not part of the competition.
The Humble Blundles and Steam alone have pushed indie gaming on PC rather well.

Unfortunately, people still seem to cling to their consoles when it comes to 'indie' games. Games such as Minecraft, Super Meatboy, Cave Story sold a tremendous amount when they were ported over to consoles, so the demand is always still there. The opposite didn't hold true when popular 'indie' games such as Braid and Castle Crashers were ported over to PC; they sold, but not as much of a boom as the console ports did.

Just a correction, Super Meatboy was an XBLA title first, and it sold far, far more when it went to PC. Not to say that it wasn't successful on Xbox, it was just much more successful on PC.

Anyway, more on topic. XBLA may be the best indie platform for consoles, but that doesn't mean that it's good. I've heard way to many horror stories from developers working on XBLA to think otherwise. Especially compared to stuff like Steam or Humble Bundle.

Absolutionis:
Don't get me wrong, I love PC games first and foremost.

However, an indie title released on PC oftentimes ends up selling rather well on consoles as well when rereleased some time later.
Indie games on consoles, however, when ported to PC don't do too well.

You do have a great point though that I didn't consider. PC indie games are everywhere, and to become a star in that sea, it requires a ton of quality; put that quality on a console and it (usually) sells great.
Consoles, on the other hand, have prohibitively annoying barriers of entry for indie games, so not many exist. A star in a puddle is forgettable when ported over to the oceanic PC.

I'd disagree with your statement on indie games that get ported to the PC not doing as well. I can't think of any XBLA or PSN games off the top of my head that did worse in terms of sales on the PC besides Braid and Castle Crashers for obvious reasons. Not to say there isn't any, I know a lot of titles that bolster the argument that indie games sell better on PC than on console.

I've mentioned Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII selling more on PC as well as XBLA nearly killing the guys who made Darwinia, but there are more games that I can name that have sold better on the PC rather than XBLA after being ported from console.

Super Meat Boy is another example.
Shank also sold better on PC after its port.

And I'm sure there's more. There have also been way too many complaints about XBLA from indie developers to have me convinced that sales are better on XBLA.

Look at Retro City Rampage for example. The developer tried to get that game on as many consoles as he could, as a result of that, his game was 100% (98% done two years ago) but not released until 5 months after its original May release date due to mostly MS and Nintend dragging their feet with the want to release it on XBLA and WiiWare. Which it is still not out on...and have no date for. It's on the PSN but most of its sales are on the PC. The developer was showing it off on the PSVita at various conventions trying to show Sony that there was interest in the game, but even they slacked on releasing it. Meanwhile PC was the only platform that you could pre-order RCR on. With Steam/GOG codes already set up.

Consoles dicked the developer or RCR for 2 full years. Had he released the game on just PC 2 years he wouldn't have had any trouble at all. Hell, he could've used the PC sales as a placeholder argument to have the console developers port the game in a more timely manner.

Can we please have some consistency between the article's title and his own quotation direcetly underneath?

XBLA Critical for -console- Indies? Plausibly, quite a bit.

For the general indie? ...Well XBLA has quite some limitations, 8 min trials, an unfriendly layout that only promotes actual search for those already looking at indies, no general publicity.
The trial thing alone means that a lot of the developers gets the chain around their ankle saying "Get our attention in this small timeframe, or it's out and gone". "Cthulhu Saves the World" literally had to redesign the start of their game to try and fit as much in as possible for the XBLA trial. The upside of course is, that this is a sort of "free demo". But still, a boon is not necesarily a healthy one. It ain't that black and white.

So if observed in a vacuum? Seems alright. XBLA does make it possible for indie titles to be sold, for consoles. That I cannot deny, and it would be arrogant to bash them for it. It does promote indies in some sense of course.

However if nothing else, plus points to author for baiting the "PC Master Race vs Console Master Race" 'discussion' once again... although it has been getting rather stale lately for quite a while now!

PC Indie, more freedom and better/more possibilities. Does that make Console Indie irrelevant/'inferior' (I will use 'inferior' in the context of "lol sux, pc rule")? No, far from it, but it has limitations, and it does nothing to lead, it does something to sustain, and maintain, like a passive frontier. That ain't bad, it just 'is'. Hope it changes once the next generation of consoles comes out. Competition is good, but when the battlefield ain't even, it serves no purpose really.

Wii U has the right idea. That system is sounding better and better for me staying in the console game and not switching to PC.

I know there are limitations to word counts in news post titles, but come on! Seven little letters and two spaces isn't much, and it would make the title FAR less misleading.

Anyway, yes. Of course the Xbox Live Arcade was crucial to the success of (some) indie developers.....for consoles.

He says as much in the article: "I think without a doubt the indie console community would not exist as it does today if Xbox Live Arcade had been dropped after the original Xbox iteration," Baez said. "No other console hardware manufacturer has had the success of downloadable games that XBLA has had. And many smaller developers have shared in that success."

He's talking about the console indie community, not the indie community at large. Even so, he makes a valid point about the Live Arcade.

But then, it sort of "wins by default", doesn't it? I mean, it was the first "easily" accessible marketplace for indie games on consoles. And, even now, Sony and Nintendo are making laughable attempts at catching up.

I guess he didn't mind paying 10'000 $ for a patch to his game.

Considering the other indie stores for consoles might as well not exist (for the Wii this is literally true), yes XBLA is crital to the success of indie games on consoles.

Absolutionis:
Don't get me wrong, I love PC games first and foremost.

However, an indie title released on PC oftentimes ends up selling rather well on consoles as well when rereleased some time later.
Indie games on consoles, however, when ported to PC don't do too well.

You do have a great point though that I didn't consider. PC indie games are everywhere, and to become a star in that sea, it requires a ton of quality; put that quality on a console and it (usually) sells great.
Consoles, on the other hand, have prohibitively annoying barriers of entry for indie games, so not many exist. A star in a puddle is forgettable when ported over to the oceanic PC.

How do you come to that amazing insight?

Good Indie games sell amazingly well, in the millions if they are lucky:
http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/01/03/super-meat-boy-hits-one-million-sales-bastion-passes-500000/
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/09/11/terraria-coming-to-xbla-psn-early-2013-1-6-million-sold-on-pc/
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/01/19/magicka-has-sold-1-3-million-copies-4m-dlc/
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/07/07/epic-loot-torchlight-sells-a-million/
http://www.thegamersblog.com/legend-of-grimrock-super-profitable/
http://indie-fund.com/2012/02/dear-esther-has-reached-profitability-it-took-5-hours-30-minutes/

Fan favorite Minecraft sold 8 Million on PC and ~3 Million on consoles: http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Minecraft-Sells-8-Million-Copies-PC-With-0-Marketing-Budget-49251.html
Super Meat Boy sold more on PC in its first two weeks than the previous months it was on Xbox Live Arcade: http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/03/01/super-meat-boy-pc-sold-more-in-two-weeks-than-xboxs-total-sales/
Cthulhu Saves the World is another example: http://www.diygamer.com/2011/11/cstw-sells-100k-steam/

Zeboyd Games is pleased to announce that the Cthulhu Saves the World + Breath of Death VII combo pack ($3) has sold over 100,000 copies on Steam since its release on July 13th, 2011. This milestone was achieved during the Steam Halloween sale, less than 4 months after the game¡¯s release on Steam.

In contrast, on the XBox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) service, Zeboyd Games has sold over 20,000 copies of Cthulhu Saves the World (240 MS points = $3) and over 55,000 copies of Breath of Death VII (80 MS points = $1). Cthulhu Saves the World was released in December 2010 on XBLIG and Breath of Death VII was released in April 2010.

We are ecstatic at the amount of success we¡¯ve seen since releasing our games on the PC. The days of worrying over whether or not we could support our families while making games we would want to play ourselves are behind us. Counter-intuitive though it may be, there is obviously a definite audience for quality console-style RPGs that are aggressively priced on the PC.

The Torchlight developers didn't even make a console version of Torchlight II because of the amount of work it requires and the disappointing sales: http://www.vg247.com/2012/09/18/torchlight-2-console-release-not-currently-planned-says-runic/

Regarding the Braid Dev, his game sold rather well on PC although I can't find any exact numbers right now, so well in fact that his next game is going to be for the PC and he said that "console ports are not worth it": http://www.edge-online.com/features/jonathan-blow-interview/

He even went public with this article directly criticizing Microsoft/Xbox for the shit they put him through: http://the-witness.net/news/2012/07/thoughts-on-consoles-and-certification-processes/

And let's not forget how Microsoft generally treats Indie developers like shit:

They won't even consider their game if it was released on a competing platform previously: http://nexus404.com/2011/08/24/microsoft-not-interested-in-publishing-downloadable-games-that-were-on-psn-first-microsoft-says-they-wont-publish-games-on-xbox-live-arcade-if-they-were-on-psn-first-games-that-get-more-content-on/

They force them to price all "DLC" and "additional content", so that Microsoft can make money too: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=147804
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/01/31/dungeon-defenders-pc-dlc-not-coming-to-consoles/

This was a Poll asking Indie devs what they think of the effort it takes to deal with each platform a while back: http://2dboy.com/2011/10/03/xbla/
image

They were trying to leverage their position and cut the royalties Indie developers get from their games by half at one point, but it blew up in their face and they backed down afterwards: http://kotaku.com/359668/microsoft-cuts-indie-royalties-in-half

Several developers directly affected by the cut told Kotaku that the once generous royalty share of 70 percent given to them by the company was within the past few months cut down to 35 percent.

Single Patches can cost up to $40.000 instead of being free like on PC or now the Wii: http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2012/02/16/microsofts-40000-per-xbox-patch-explains-why-updates-are-slow-to-roll-out/

Some devs are saying XBLA isn't profitable: http://www.lazygamer.net/xbox-360/xbox-live-arcade-not-profitable/

They're just generally awful to deal with and their only concern is how they can extract more money by exploiting and extracting it from others.

Crucial.

The word you are looking for is crucial.

gigastar:

josemlopes:

Absolutionis:
This is, assuming, that Steam, Applestore, and Android Market are not part of the competition.
The Humble Blundles and Steam alone have pushed indie gaming on PC rather well.

I dont believe that he is saying that it was the best push but the first one to be made, which I agree.

Now i actually went to check up on that, XBLIG was only launched back in 2008, yet Steam was supporting independent developers as far back as 2005.

We are talking about XBLA, not XBLIG, XBLA already supported indie games (although not as indie as the XBLIG). Steam wasnt exactly the place to find indie games, only in 2008 Steam started to show more indies (before that there were only 5 games) and now with Greenlight they are really important for the indie community.

Compare this
http://store.steampowered.com/search/?genre=Indie&category1=998#sort_by=&sort_order=ASC&category1=998&genre=Indie&page=17

to this
http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Games/XboxArcadeGames?page=6&pagesize=90&sortby=ReleaseDate

(in the xbox site note some of the last ones are dated 2012 because they still werent released, just take into account the ones with the early dates. And not all of those games are indie, some are re-releases)

Grey Carter:
Sony has only recently started competing with Microsoft's indie lineup by pushing for PSN exclusives and the Wii's relatively basic online infrastructure almost put it out of the digital race entirely.

That's odd, though they seemed to have less exposure, PS3 has had a fantastic array of indie games for a long time. Just tied to a really terrible storefront (icon only view? really?). Not that XBLA is much better, but at least they require demos/videos. :)

Trine, Flower, Flow, Fat Princess, Echochrome, Siren: Blood Curse, the Pixeljunk games, Super Stardust, Shatter, Joe Danger...

Most of the above were available on PSN around the same time as Braid and Castle Crashers on XBLA I believe.

Grey Carter:
I can't say I disagree with Baez's assessment. Sony has only recently started competing with Microsoft's indie lineup by pushing for PSN exclusives

And by recently, you mean since early 2009?

Kross:

Grey Carter:
Sony has only recently started competing with Microsoft's indie lineup by pushing for PSN exclusives and the Wii's relatively basic online infrastructure almost put it out of the digital race entirely.

That's odd, though they seemed to have less exposure, PS3 has had a fantastic array of indie games for a long time. Just tied to a really terrible storefront (icon only view? really?). Not that XBLA is much better, but at least they require demos/videos. :)

Trine, Flower, Flow, Fat Princess, Echochrome, Siren: Blood Curse, the Pixeljunk games, Super Stardust, Shatter, Joe Danger...

Most of the above were available on PSN around the same time as Braid and Castle Crashers on XBLA I believe.

Siren and Echochrome aren't indie, they were first party. And I think fat Princess was made by a subsidiary of Epic Games.

AzrealMaximillion:

The idea that popular indie games don't sell better on PC isn't true thought. Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII sold tenfold on PC than on XBLA.

Once again, thats a cherry picked argument. Those two games are on the XBLIG section, a section where 99.999999999% of all stuff is crap, so of course no-one goes there. When they went to Steam, they had the bright idea to not go into a section where they would be shafted as crap, and so received more attention.

PC gamers managed to completely get the wrong fucking end of the stick on those stories. Its about the devs learning from experience and learning about marketting the hard way - it has absolutely nothing to do with either service being more indie friendly.

Absolutionis:

You do have a great point though that I didn't consider. PC indie games are everywhere, and to become a star in that sea, it requires a ton of quality; put that quality on a console and it (usually) sells great.
Consoles, on the other hand, have prohibitively annoying barriers of entry for indie games, so not many exist. A star in a puddle is forgettable when ported over to the oceanic PC.

Uh huh. Tell me, the indie game that is being considered for game of the year, is it a console indie game thats not on the PC, or a PC indie game thats not on consoles? Whats that? The former? Making your point laughably stupid?

Absolutionis:

Foolproof:
Uh huh. Tell me, the indie game that is being considered for game of the year, is it a console indie game thats not on the PC, or a PC indie game thats not on consoles? Whats that? The former? Making your point laughably stupid?

Journey was never ported to PC; I'm not talking about games that were not ported. Your argument is invalid. Stop trolling with inflammatory language.

Bullshit. Your argument centered around the assumption that the quality of indie games on consoles is lacking being the reason indie ports from PC to consoles on average sell better than the other way around. I disproved your assumption, and rendered your argument invalid.

Learn what a counterargument is, FFS.

You point out an exception and declare yourself the winner?

Foolproof:
Bullshit.

Foolproof:
I disproved your assumption

Foolproof:
your argument invalid.

Foolproof:
Learn what a counterargument is

Foolproof:
FFS.

Seems like you're more out for looking for a fight online rather than being convincing.
Troll elsewhere.

Foolproof:
snip due to invalid points and lack of argument from the other point of view

You seem to be looking for a fight online. Don't do that here.

 

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