Indie games and self-publishing are hot topics right now, particularly with the home console scene for net-gen split in terms of their approaches. Sony and Nintendo will allow indies to self-publish. Steam already do. But Microsoft won't.
What does that actually mean? Well, aside from the revenue developers would save after not being to pay a publisher or Microsoft themselves, there's also the matter of the number of hoops you have to jump through to get onto a platform like XBLA.
“Steam demonstrates the new way of doing things perfectly," said Retro City Rampage developer Brain Provinciano, talking to VG247. "In three man days of work, everything from the initial discussions to signing the contract, programming leaderboard and achievement code and authoring store banners and assets were done, and the game was ready to be in players’ hands.
“On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Xbox version took over a year of time just on the business side and who knows how many man months of head-down work. In the end, the Steam version is 100% feature identical to the XBLA version, even supporting Xbox 360 controllers. It demonstrates what’s possible and what every platform must strive for moving forward in the new age of digital distribution and smaller studios.”
Gaijin Games' Mike Roush and Alex Neuse, the folks behind Bit.Trip, concur.
“They need to start turning stuff around faster and have it cost much less," they said in a joint statement. "For instance, on certain platforms our most recent release, Runner2, was completely done for over a month before it was churned through the first party machines and brought to market. Delays like that can positively ruin some smaller developers.
“And once the game has been released, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for consumers to find the products that we all know they want to play. Of course, if you’re one of the giant developers who can afford to pay for prime placement up front and center, great. But those opportunities aren’t always realistic for smaller developers.
“If the big three actually want to woo indies, they need to start accepting the fact that most indies aren’t huge business conglomerates that A: understand or B: have the time to play their reindeer games. If they don’t, all indies will just stop trying and will decide to do business solely with Valve”.