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Indie dev uses XBLA loophole to bypass MS certification

Super Meat Boy is first 360 game to add new content as and when

Upcoming Xbox Live Arcade platform game Super Meat Boy will be capable of downloading additional content which sidesteps Microsoft's standard approval processes.

By using the Title Managed Storage system, developers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes (aka Team Meat) will be able to push new levels to the game, which players can download for free.

Because all new content is made using a standardised level creation tool, Microsoft will allow additional levels to be made available without going through the certification it otherwise forces onto all DLC.

"In a world where it costs $2 to unlock content in a game that you've already purchased," explained Refenes, "it is nice to have the power to totally say 'f--- you' to that system and go our own way."

Microsoft has not been resistant to Team Meat's unorthodox methods, Refenes claimed. "In the end they actually welcomed it because they want developers to do anything and everything with their service that makes them stand out.

"No one has ever done anything like this in the history of XBLA as far as we and our people at MS know." Team Meat have released a schedule of planned approval-free DLC running early next year.

Following the later release of a PC version with a level editor, the pair also intend to publish the best user-made content to the XBLA edition of Super Meat Boy.

Latest comments (13)

Maurício Gomes Programmer 6 years ago
Huh... What is the loophole?
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David Amor Director, MAG Interactive6 years ago
Content usually gets bought through XBLA Marketplace. They're using the Title Managed Storage system instead. Nice idea by the developers and interesting that MS were okay with it.
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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments6 years ago
Don't see this constitutes a "loophole" - microsoft will have approved the game working this way when they accepted it for XBLA?
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Show all comments (13)
Julian Toseland games podcaster/website 6 years ago
but now they can add content that no longer needs approval, or charge for it.clever, and great to see, as long of course they don't abuse it.
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Phil Hindle Technical Director, FreeStyleGames6 years ago
Any content which costs money will still need to go through MarketPlace though.
It's available via TMS only because it's free content I presume.
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Ben Board Developer Account Manager, Microsoft6 years ago
I'm an Xbox Developer Account Manager (DAM) in Europe, part of a team that supports developers worldwide in helping them get the most out of their Xbox titles.

This title isn't one I know personally but I have this sort of conversation all the time. Calling it a 'loophole' suggests it's possible to get policy-dodging content out if you're cunning enough; I'd suggest that's not at all cunning, but rather a good way of your game getting pulled from the service and your name crossed off the christmas card list. Any idea like this needs to get our approval, and it sounds like they've worked with us to get it. (If they haven't, this is a brave blog post on their part ;) ) We'll take a look at any unusual plans a dev has, but as long as they don't bust our TCRs or platform policies then we're usually happy to approve.

TMS is a useful bit of free online LIVE storage that titles use in interesting ways, and we positively encourage its use. Like Leaderboards, there are many creative things you can do with it. If you want to know more then get in touch with me or your DAM.
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Phil Hindle Technical Director, FreeStyleGames6 years ago
Ben, here's an interesting devil's advocate type of question:

Suppose (very hypothetically of course, because I am sure the developers are lovely and responsible people!) the developers of this title decided to build a level which spells a very rude word. As it stands, the developers could in theory just push this out, without MS approval.

Doesn't this pose some degree of risk, given that the onus is on the dev to ensure that the DLC content is appropriate?
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Ben Gunstone Production Director, Stainless Games Ltd6 years ago
For TMS to be pushed to LIVE it still has to go through MS in some way. It might not go through cert but it sure will have to pass through the hands of someone at MS and will have to be "approved".
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Ben Board Developer Account Manager, Microsoft6 years ago
Very happy to answer questions like this over mail. Phil, Ben, I'll respond to you in person.
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Radek Koncewicz CEO, Creative Lead, Incubator Games6 years ago
If I recall correctly, Band of Bugs and N+ also had plans for user-created and freely distributable levels, but Microsoft nixed them. This doesn't sound like a loophole at all, just Microsoft giving permission to do this sort of thing.
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Anatoly Ropotov CEO, innoWate6 years ago
As I've commented here: [link url=http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/30596/Super_Meat_Boy_DLC_To_Go_Around_Standard_XBL_System.php
]http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/30596...[/link]
we've released a certified TMS-enabled XBLA game, but the functionality was never used by a publisher.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anatoly Ropotov on 24th September 2010 6:38pm

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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 6 years ago
Oh, why praise a system/loophole for something which shouldn't be needed in the first place..
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Ben Board Developer Account Manager, Microsoft6 years ago
@Anatoly - you say in your comment on GamaSutra that you're talking about Puzzle Arcade. That title did indeed use TMS to bring new puzzles to players - indeed, the publisher sent me the files and I uploaded them myself :)
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