XBox Live and Playstation Network has been known to put out sleeper hits like Limbo, Shadow Complex and Fat Princess from independent developers. With their latest project kickstarted with over a million dollars of funding, Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions has a different perspective. 2D Boy’s Ron Carmel put out a report that people are moving away from console DLCs with XBL taking the most hit and Schaefer hoping to see Microsoft and Sony take note of the frustrations echoed by the indie developers who are now pushing games to digital platforms like Apple’s iOS, Valve’s Steam and social network giant Facebook. IndustryGamers sat down with Double Fine’s Tim Schafer at DICE gives the scoop.
“I was hoping that would be a really, really eye-opening article for the console manufacturers… and I feel like it’s been totally dismissed. I really think it’s something they can’t dismiss and they should really pay a lot more attention to because he’s calling attention to a migration, an exodus of real creative talent away from those platforms to more open platforms, and I think they should do something quick to reverse that,” Schafer said.
He continued, “Can you reverse an exodus? Is there a term for that? A redexus? Seriously, I think that that was kind of a warning call. It’s not like ‘it would be nice to do this’ for developers – [if they don't] they’re going to lose out. Things change every generation and just because you’re on top and the 900 pound gorilla in one generation, as you’ve seen, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t mean it’ll be that way forever. I think that these threats that are possibly being ignored are going to hurt those guys.”
Schafer says that the openness of other platforms like iOS and Steam more appealing than developing a downloadable on consoles. “We can put something up on the App Store pretty easily. We can put stuff up on Steam really easily. I like the Xbox and the PS3. I like Sony and Microsoft, but those systems are closed and curated very closely and it costs a lot more money to go through that system, to patch a game. It makes me stressed out that if I put a game up there, I might not be able to patch it because it might cost too much money, whereas these more open platforms will let us manage our own price and our own updates. It’s just a lot more appealing right now,” explained Schafer.
As for PSN and XBLA, Schafer added that both brought a lot to the industry by enabling new types of games on consoles, but unless Microsoft and Sony can change their ways, indies may just go elsewhere.
“There are good games on both platforms. And that’s the thing, is that I really believe in both those platforms, and I want them to succeed. Ever since the first time I played Geometry Wars, I was like, ‘Hey, this XBLA – well, both XBLA and PSN – but I mean the thing that branded Xbox Live Arcade, that is opening up a portal for a certain type of game, a size of game.’ We were used to thinking of these huge triple-A games and all of a sudden when you got your 360, one of the things that felt really next-gen about it was that you could download Geometry Wars for five dollars, and we hadn’t done that before. I hadn’t thought of buying that kind of game on a console before and I’m having tons of fun and I think that leads to a new creative outlet and brought us games like Limbo and Castle Crashers and all the great games that we saw on that platform. I want that to succeed. So when you read an article about that, warning about the migration away from the platform, that’s a shame and we want that not to be the case,” he concluded.