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Blow: Consoles handicapped by corporate nature

Blow: Consoles handicapped by corporate nature

Tue 24 Jul 2012 8:19am GMT / 4:19am EDT / 1:19am PDT
OnlineDevelopment

Indie devs speak out against console development red tape

A number of high profile indie developers have shared their frustrations about rules, regulations and certifications that come with developing for consoles, calling it excruciating, prohibitive and a handicap.

"The edge that both Apple and Valve have going into the future is that they both genuinely care about the end-user experience and want to make it as good as possible," said Braid creator Jonathan Blow in the Ars Technica article.

1

Blow's Braid

"Which coincidentally seems to be the place that these consoles are handicapped due to their corporate culture. Can anyone look at the current 360 or PS3 dashboards and legitimately say that those are products of an entity that deeply cares about user experience?"

He pointed to iOS as an example of a platform without tricky certification processes.

"There is almost no certification process for iOS, so by the Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo theory, the apps should be crashing all the time, everyone should think of iOS as sucky, etc. But in fact this is not what is happening. There is no public outcry for more testing and robustness of iOS software."

He said console manufacturers now had to compete with iOS devices like the iPad, and that if the next-gen machines demanded the same levels of certification, they would be "functionally archaic in the marketplace."

Elsewhere in the piece World Of Goo's Ron Carmel described working with Microsoft Studios on XBLA as "excruciating."

"Contract negotiations [with Microsoft Studios] are drawn out and adversarial," added Carmel.

"I've heard many complaints about having to work with a producer, and their terms are the worst among all modern digital distribution channels."

Derek Yu of Spelunky fame, who recently published his game on XBLA, warned developers about the cost in time and funding.

"In my opinion, the entire process of console development is prohibitive-not just the expenses but also the selection process and the time invested into understanding the platform. You should only do it if you have the resources and really want to be on a console."

This isn't the first time consoles have faced criticism. Joe Danger developer Sean Murray famously called Xbox Live Arcade a "slaughterhouse" for small developers, while just last October Eufloria designer Rudolf Kremers said self publishing through the service was impossible thanks to costs and mandatory features.

12 Comments

robert troughton UK General Manager, Epic Games

222 96 0.4
Totally agree with this... that said, TCRs for consoles are good - it's good to have consistency and stability. What I'd like to see improved, though, is the cost and speed of patching games... if it costs a publisher money to publish a patch for a game, they're less likely to bother unless the patch is a significant one...

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys

21 17 0.8
@ Robert,

Depends how successful the title is.

Posted:2 years ago

#2
Consoles are stuck in the game-as-product world. Platform holders need to evolve their processes to allow for a genuine game-as-service model. To do this they not only need to allow for regular patches and updates, but actively encourage them. That's what happens on mobile and its an exciting and refreshing place to work compared to the nightmare world of console dinosaurs.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Henrique Olifiers Gamer-In-Chief, Co-Founder, Bossa Studios

12 7 0.6
Also missing from the debate is the impossibility of some game genres, such as MMOs, to exist in a console ecosystem where updates are considered patches, thus need to undergo certification (and publication fees) even if they're content-centric.

Creating platform policies that rule out entire types of games, some of which are leaders in term of engagement and monetisation (ie. World of Warcraft etc.), or spearhead innovation (indies etc.) is sheer lack of imagination -- basically status quo.

We all know what happens to those who refrain from moving on with the times on the tech and content business...

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News

58 23 0.4
iOS games crash all the time. Even Hero Academy, one of the more stable ones I've played a lot of lately, has had its fair share of issues.

For every indie dev complaining about XBLA (ignoring Microsoft's Indie Games entirely) there's one complaining they can't get on Steam and can't even find out why they were rejected. They're changing that with Greenlight, but we'll see how well it works.

iOS puts no barriers in the way, but that's opened the door to clones, the race to a dollar pricing, and it being almost impossible for indie devs to get their titles noticed without using questionable marketers to inflate their ranking. Is that better?

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Henrique Olifiers Gamer-In-Chief, Co-Founder, Bossa Studios

12 7 0.6
@Rod: No, it's not better. But it doesn't have to be one or the other, rather a new way of doing things.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Henrique Olifiers on 24th July 2012 6:02pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Mario Tommadich Technical Requirements & Compliance, Keywords International

32 28 0.9
The process of debugging an application against TCRs , TRCs and programming guidelines can be a lot less painful with an experienced partner that can help you prevent collisions with current regulations. Software certification can be a horrific, time and money extensive process, but only if you develop without the regulations in mind and nobody to point it out to you.
Here at Keywords International we have 10+ years experience in software certification testing on all platforms and more than 90% of our clients' applications pass the certification at the first try. If you feel that not going through cert smoothly has been a thorn in your side for long enough, you are welcome to ask us what we can do for you.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Rod Agreed, there are major problems in all segments of the market, but I'd still argue PC is the healthiest, with multiple funding, discovery, and delivery options. That will only expand further with Greenlight.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

239 98 0.4
What a moron, there is nothing wrong with the interfaces of the 360 and the PS3 (yes ofcourse there's room for improvement), he's comparing a touchscreen interface to an interface that has to be navigated with a controller (default).

And Apple also has a lot of restriction on what kind of apps they aprove..

He's bitching because he also want's to put his junk on the PS3/360 but doesn't want to spend the money. Even though the 360 also has an Indie part..

Sorry, but I can't take this person seriously..

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
What a moron, there is nothing wrong with the interfaces of the 360 and the PS3 (yes ofcourse there's room for improvement),
Whoa.

Seriously? The PS3 interface is awful. Annoying navigation that's counter-intuitive. A shop that's just... Badly laid out, is an understatement. I can't speak for the 360, but by God, as a consumer, the PS3 seems to inhibit what it feels like I can do. It's not even that it actually does, but that it feels like it does, which no gaming dashboard should do.

Or, to put it more succinctly, the PS3 exists, and I put up with it. I've not bought a PSN game in months. Steam (which I note you entirely ignore in your comment) entices the consumer to spend time with it; spend money on it. It feels organic. The PS3 does not.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Doug Paras

117 61 0.5
"The edge that both Apple and Valve have going into the future is that they both genuinely care about the end-user experience and want to make it as good as possible," said Braid creator Jonathan Blow in the Ars Technica article.
Thats Bull, if Apple truely cared about the end product and exp they wouldn't let 10 thousand garbage games get released for ever 1 or 2 decent ones.

Apple is no different then any other company and goal one is making money.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Roberto Bruno Curious Person

104 69 0.7
What a moron, there is nothing wrong with the interfaces of the 360 and the PS3
Wrong.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Roberto Bruno on 25th July 2012 4:42am

Posted:2 years ago

#12

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