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XBLA is a "slaughterhouse" for smaller developers

Joe Danger sold 50k on week one over PSN; Pubs see PSN/XBLA as "ginger step-child" of digital distribution

Hello Games chose to release Joe Danger via Sony's PlayStation Network because the team regarded Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade as a "slaughterhouse" for small developers.

Speaking at the Develop Conference in Brighton today, Hello Games' Sean Murray said that while the top ten titles on XBLA sell very well and have high profiles amongst consumers, a significant proportion of games sell less than 25,000 units on the service, and quickly disappear after release.

"Why choose PSN? It was the only way we could self-publish," said Murray. " XBLA is kind of a slaughterhouse for smaller developers. There are games that do amazingly well. But there's two titles released every week and a lot of those are falling in that 25,000 or less category."

Murray's session included his own stats collated from Xbox Live Arcade, which he presented with the caveat that there were not official figures, but he believed them to be realistic.

Of titles on XBLA that were self-published without the assistance of third-parties, Murray claimed 47 per cent sold less than 25,000 copies, 23 per cent sold around 100,000 copies, 13 per cent 200,000 copies and 17 per cent more than 200,000.

Murray revealed that Joe Danger broke-even on its first day of release on PSN and sold 50,000 copies in its first week.

Console services are ripe opportunities for independent developers, said Murray, as big third-party publishers regard them as "the ginger step-child" of the digital downloads market and are not willing to experiment with releasing creative games in the space.

"It's not to say publishers are shit, but small studios are amazing in this space," stressed Murray.

He also revealed some of the knock back statements Hello Games received from early talks with publishers for Joe Danger, including: "Name me one popular game with motorbikes", "we want games that are less about fun right now" and "can Joe be a monkey? We like monkeys".

Finally, he wouldn't discuss the next project from the four-man team, but said that if the company can double, "what we could do with eight people could be fucking amazing, basically."

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Matt Martin avatar

Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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