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5th Cell: "Bar for XBLA so much higher than it used to be"

Scribblenauts dev makes "more money on XBLA that we would on retail game"

Scribblenauts studio 5th Cell believes digital platforms XBLA and PSN make more sense for a developer of its size than attempting to move to full console development.

"We want to start small but we want smart growth," creative director Jeremiah Slaczka told in an interview published today. "We're not hiring bodies and biting off more than we can chew. DS to XBLA makes sense as a next step. Whereas DS to Xbox 360 might be possible, it's maybe going to be a hard road. "

The studio is currently working on XBLA action-shooter Hybrid, which it has scaled up to 65 staff for as the bar for XBLA is so much higher than it used to be four years ago. We're seeing a lot of people go to XBLA with games that look like console games.

Although "When you break the math down we make far more money on Hybrid on XBLA that we would on a retail game," 5th Cell is conscious of the risks involved.

"I think there's opportunities but you've got to be careful about riding a whole company on it. Especially as experimentation, you can have just a few people on it. Hybrid's 30-40 people and even DS games are 30 people.

"Whereas with iPhone you can screw around, iterate, try different things. You're not making tons of money and bank-rolling the whole company but you can still make decent money."

For the full interview with Slaczka and 5th Cell's general manager Joseph Tringali, in which they also discuss being a third-party success on Nintendo platforms, why they won't lay off staff come the end of a project and their resistance to publishing deals, please click here.

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Alec Meer avatar
Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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