Shield The Beat creator Mathieu Briau believes that Xbox Live's Indie Games service is failing the developers it is designed to promote.
Briau worked as a programmer for seven years, getting his first job in the games industry on Behaviour Interactive's Wet.
"At first I just loved it," he told GamesIndustry.biz recently. "I got a promotion. I was technical lead. Everything was going fine. And then we got late. Then we were really, really late, and everybody was pissed off. It wasn't so fun anymore, so I decided to take a year off."
The product of that hiatus was rhythm game Shield The Beat, but while Briau was impressed by the XNA toolset Microsoft provides for aspiring developers, he now believes that any positive impact the service could have is diminished by the Indie Games marketplace.Pullquotes:
That's why it's such a bad marketplace... The word of mouth has to be faster than two weeks.Mathieu Briau
"It is one of the worst markets you can use to publish your game," he said. "It is very, very bad."
"Creating the game isn't bad. Actually, [Microsoft] has created a very good engine. The problem is when you put it on the market, where there are two other games going out every day."
"The only way of getting noticed is to be on the 'most recent games' or the 'top-sellers'. After two weeks you're out of the Most Recent, so if you're not among the top-sellers after that, you're just out."
Shield The Beat launched just a few days before Minecraft-clone FortressCraft, and Briau acknowledged the negative impact that had on his game being noticed. However, he argued that independent games rely on word-of-mouth to find an audience, and Indie Games only stands in the way of that process.
"That's why it's such a bad marketplace, because you aren't given that time. The word of mouth has to be faster than two weeks."
Briau is also critical of Steam for its refusal to offer feedback to developers whose games they reject.
"I tried with Steam, but they said no... They don't give you a reason, and even if you ask for one they just tell you 'no'."