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Blow: Consoles handicapped by corporate nature

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.

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.

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.