Team Meat, the indie studio behind hit platformer Super Meat Boy, has launched a bitter attack on Microsoft for not following through on marketing promises it made for the game's Xbox Live Arcade launch.
Speaking at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco today, co-CEO Tommy Refenes explained that, as part of the platform's Game Feast promotion last October, Super Meat Boy had been promised the release schedule to itself for the week.
However, as it turned out, Double Fine's Costume Quest was added to their launch week at the last minute.
"We were just like 'what the f***? Everyone else gets a free week except for us?'," recalled co-founder Tommy Refenes.
When Refenes turned on his 360 on launch day, things got worse. Team Meat had been told the game would get top billing in the Spotlight feed on the Xbox 360 dashboard, but there was no sign of any promotion for the title whatsoever.
In a state of panic, he immediately fired off an email to the studio's producer at Microsoft.
"I was like 'What's the deal? Are you guys pulling out? Where's our stuff?'," he explained.
"It finally went up half way through our launch day. It was the number four spot; it wasn't number one. The 'spooktacular sale', which was a whole bunch of other games that already came out – that was the number one slot.
"An ad for a Mazda 3 was the number two slot – because you all go on Xbox to figure out what car you want, right?
"We were number four and we stayed number four the entire week," he continued.
Microsoft then apparently told Team Meat that the better the game performed, the more promotion it would receive. However, despite outselling other Game Feast titles Comic Jumper and Hydrophobia by a significant margin, and racking up great reviews, no further marketing support came.
"We just kind of got pushed to the side, and that's basically how the Xbox Live launch went. The only reason the game sold well was because of how we promoted it. The help from Microsoft was there in a very limited capacity," Refenes insisted.
"It's not supposed to hurt your feelings because it's business, but it totally f**king hurt my feelings. Me and Ed just killed ourselves trying to get this game done and now we're just pushed to the side.
"It was a f****** mindf***," added the other half of Team Meat, Edmund McMillen.
"It was really confusing. At that point I think we were so f***** up in our heads from development, it almost felt like 'are these people out to get us? What's happening here? Did we do something wrong? Are they trying to screw us because we did something wrong?'"
Later on in the presentation, McMillen tempered the attack a little, insisting that "working with the creative side of Microsoft was great.
"Everybody that we could talk to were great; the people who we couldn't talk to were the problem. So everyone who we worked with was wonderful. Everyone who was making decisions, not so much."
Thankfully for Team Meat, there was a happy ending. The Steam launch went much more smoothly, with PC sales easily outstripping those on Xbox 360. Refenes revealed that the game is now closing in on 400,000 sales across all platforms.