Ever had the urge to maim small animals, chew your arm off, or generally explode in a white-hot, sizzling eruption of furious frustration at a mobile phone carrier? Well apparently you're not alone, as leading indie developers have slammed the red-tape certification processes for today's home consoles, reserving particular criticism for the publishing negotiations conducted for Microsoft Studios' XBLA.
Ron Carmel, who's no stranger to calling out Microsoft, delivered a savage indictment of the "excruciating" experiences that smaller developers go through to get their games onto XBLA.
"Contract negotiations [with Microsoft Studios] are drawn out and adversarial," Carmel said. "I've heard many complaints about having to work with a producer, and their terms are the worst among all modern digital distribution channels."
Braid developer Jonathan Blow contrasted such an approach with the more open and user-friendly experiences to be found on iOS and Steam, suggesting that Apple and Valve " genuinely care" about the end-user experience.
"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," Blow said. "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?"
Blow's view on the matter is rather simply: the attitudes of platform holders in this matter is simply outdated, and their argument don't stand up in the face of iOS and Steam.
"The certification processes of all these platform holders were based on the idea that all these steps they test are absolutely necessary for software to run robustly, and that software robustness is super-important for the health of their platform and its perception by customers," he continued. "But look at iOS. 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."
Robert Boyd pointed out that the likes of Microsoft need to be far less stringent when it comes to their patch rules as well, referring in particular to the recent problems with Polytron's Fez.
"Sure, Microsoft has a full schedule on XBLA right now, but if they want to continue to attract top talent to their platforms for 2013, 2014, and beyond, they need to step up their efforts and be more accommodating of smaller developers," Boyd said. "At the very least, they need to ease up on their patch rules. It doesn't matter how good your QA team is—if you're making something with the kind of complexity found in your typical modern game, you're not going to catch every bug the first time around. I really feel for [Fez programmer] Renaud Bedard, since I know how frustrating it is to find [out] about a bug and not be sure how to fix [it]." [Ars Technica]