'We want to reward Sony for having the best terms'
Vlambeer producer Rami Ismail is a veritable indie champion, originally responsible for bringing Microsoft's 'parity clause' into the public eye several months ago. Developers are forced to release simultaneously or first on Xbox platforms, which simply isn't possible for most smaller independent outfits due to the massive extra workload and potentially having to renege on existing agreements.
A few months on, and nothing much has changed - meaning that [email protected] still has a major thorn in its side and Vlambeer's excellent dogfighting shooter Luftrausers will never release on Xbox One. As you'd expect, Ismail has a few choice words for the company following months of negotiations, but hopes that things will improve.
"I think it's awful," Ismail told Dealspwn.com at EGX Rezzed during a Luftrausers interview. "For how good [email protected] is, for how well organised the programme is, it is awful that one of the default clauses is literally: "hey, you have to launch with us first or at the same time as other platforms," because we're a two man indie studio! We don't have the time to deal with, like, two different console launches with two different technical requirement lists at the same time."
"We're not going to launch on Microsoft first because they have that clause. We like Sony and want to reward them for having the best terms. We're not going to reward Microsoft with an early version because they have the worst terms, right?"
"I've been talking to Microsoft about that. We've been negotiating and I hope that they will drop it. It's my hope that they will drop it."
"We're at the point where we're not going to do Luftrausers on Xbox One," Ismail confirmed in no uncertain terms, after I asked whether their superb shooter could eventually make it onto Microsoft's console after a policy rethink. "We're done with that game, we need to move on to new things."
"New things," of course, meaning upcoming bullet hell roguelike RPG Nuclear Throne, formerly known as Wasteland Kings. Ismail is keen to release on Xbox One alongside the PC, PS4 and Vita - but this would rely on Microsoft playing ball.
"We definitely want Nuclear Throne to launch on Xbox One as well - and getting rid of that launch parity would be a good step to ensuring that any future Vlambeer games will also hit Xbox One."
It certainly would. Considering that XBLA was instrumental in securing indie games mainstream success, followed by the unsung and undersupported revolution that was Xbox Live Indie Games, it was heartbreaking to see Mattrick's Microsoft making things harder for independent developers - while Sony seized the opportunity with both hands. Apparently the parity clause is here to stay, judging by recent comments from Phil Harrison, but hopefully they'll start to become a lot more flexible over the coming months.
Our full video interview with Rami Ismail goes live tomorrow at 11:00. Stay tuned!