"It Was A F**king Mindf**k"
Team Meat, the Indie studio behind Super Meat Boy (the bloody XBLA platformer that brought grown men to tears of joy and utter frustration) has spoken out to decry Microsoft's support as a downloadable publisher, This isn't the first time that MS has come under fire for leaving Indie studios out in the cold, and we have the latest below.
Speaking to a GDC panel, co-CEO Tommy Refenes explained that Microsoft merrily screwed the pooch several times throughout Super Meat Boy's release window. First of all, it was caught up in a multiple release week after being promised exclusivity- meaning that it already had to share the limelight. This phenomenon has already been slammed by Hello Games, who called XBLA a "slaughterhouse" for smaller developers and completely unsuitable for the launch of PSN hit Joe Danger.
On launch day, the promised publicity was also found sorely lacking. Advertisements were only put up halfway through the afternoon, well behind a Mazda advert and a banner for the weekly deal. Only Team Meat's desperate self promotion was enough to ensure strong sales, and the dev team were dismayed that corporate promotion consistently overshadows Indie releases. Because we're all in the market for a Mazda... right?
I was like 'What's the deal? Are you guys pulling out? Where's our stuff? It finally went up half way through our launch day. It was the number four spot; it wasn't number one. The 'spooktacular sale', which was a whole bunch of other games that already came out – that was the number one slot.
An ad for a Mazda 3 was the number two slot – because you all go on Xbox to figure out what car you want, right?
The developers felt genuinely insulted and overlooked by Microsoft's support, stating that they felt personally offended by the lack of promised support. Edmund McMillen chimed in to put their feelings into four letter words.
It was a f****** mindf***. It was really confusing. At that point I think we were so f***** up in our heads from development, it almost felt like 'are these people out to get us? What's happening here? Did we do something wrong? Are they trying to screw us because we did something wrong?
At least the Steam sale went smoothly, backed by Valve's Indie-friendly marketing machine.
This isn't the first time that Microsoft's publishing support has been caught short. The Indie scene were shabbily treated by a disastrous dashboard update that sidelined their marketplace into the dusty recesses of the speciality shops, causing many potential breakout hits to be ignored and forgotten. Many developers even considered jumping ship to PSN or the App Store in protest- and many still will.
Speaking as an Indie columnist, I hope that Microsoft will up their game. Many developers I talk to consider Sony and Apple to be vastly superior in terms of aftermarket support and publicity- and it'd be a crying shame for more smaller studios to lose faith in what should be a beacon of Indie development. Here's hoping that Team Meat's grievances will be taken into consideration- or Microsoft's loss will be Sony's gain. [GI]