Hot on the heels of Lorne Lanning criticising Microsoft for forcing independent developers to jump through the hoops of traditional publishing methods -- securing a third-party publisher or shacking up with Microsoft Studios to secure an Xbox LIVE release -- Retro City Rampage developer Brian Provinciano has shed more light on the restrictions and impositions Microsoft place on indie devs to secure a release for their game.
“Like any publisher, Microsoft Studios takes more from you than a simple platform revshare,” he told PAR. “In addition to their publisher cut, Microsoft Studios also requires at minimum a timed exclusivity, so you won't be able to release on other platforms day one.”
Third-party publishers are not ideal either, as most will wan to act in that capacity across all platforms, even the ones on which self-publishing is possible.
"They feel that if they're publishing your game, they want to be the end-all-be-all publisher,” Provinciano continued. “They want to publish all platforms, even those which you could self-publish on.”
“Long story short, this means that on all other platforms, you're needlessly giving a chunk of your revshare to a publisher for nothing more than the ability to get your game onto Xbox and the freedom to release on the other platforms, which you can already self-publish on, at the same time."
Essentially, developers have to pay publishers to avoid Xbox exclusivity or shack up with Microsoft themselves. But the connotations of exclusivity, timed or otherwise, can be harmful to the developers, as Provinciano points out.
“The average consumer assumes Microsoft's paying developers for exclusivity, when NOT ONLY is that NOT the case, it's completely flipped around. Developers are essentially the ones paying to AVOID exclusivity,” Provinciano stated. “Developers get a lot of negative PR and hate from fans when they announce that their game is coming to Xbox first. Fans slam developers for taking 'money bags' instead of supporting other platforms, which as you can see isn't what's going on at all. Many consumers perceive this as developers choosing Xbox because it's 'the better platform.' That's the intention.”
The Xbox One, as it happens, will not allow indies to self-publish. The PS4 and the Wii U, on the hand, will. So there's a third option: skip Microsoft's console entirely.
“Alternatively, when self-publishing on Nintendo or PlayStation for example, you simply make your game, submit it into their system, submit it into certification, get your full revshare and that's about it,” Provinciano said.
Seems like a no-brainer to us.