Nat Brown, former Xbox engineer, had some harsh words pointed in Microsoft’s direction in regards to their treatment of indie developers and how they have been stifling innovation. He starts off on his blog by saying:
But the past 5 years, and the last year in particular, have been simply painful to watch. Coasting on past momentum. Failing to innovate and failing to capitalize on innovations like Kinect.
Nat says that Microsoft is only able to capitalize on their lead due to the missteps of Sony and Nintendo, which has caused the company to become complacent and coast in the living room battle. There are even questionable choices suggested by Nat including Microsoft’s teaming up with media providers that he claims are “dying”.
But, he suggests that the biggest failing for the company is their treatment of indie developers and how they have abandoned the system for better opportunities elsewhere such as mobile. In regards to indie treatment Nat has this to say:
xBox’s primary critical problem is the lack of a functional and growing platform ecosystem for small developers to sell digitally-/network-distributed (non-disc) content through to the installed base of xBox customers, period. Why can’t I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friends’ houses? Why can’t I then distribute it digitally in a decent online store, give up a 30% cut and strike it rich if it’s a great game, like I can for Android, for iPhone, or for iPad? Oh, wait, I can… sort of. Read some of the fine-print at the xBox registered developer program page (that “membership” would cost you $10,000/year and a ton of paperwork, with Microsoft holding veto power over your game being published), navigate the mess through to learning about XBLA (also costly, paperwork and veto approval) and you may end up learning about a carved off little hard-to-find store with a few thousand stunted games referred to as XBLIG where Microsoft has ceded their veto power (and instead just does nothing to promote your games). This is where indie developers have found they can go in order to not make money on xBox, despite an installed base of 76M devices. Microsoft, you are idiotic to have ceded not just indie game developers but also a generation of loyal kids and teens to making games for other people’s mobile devices.
The truth is that many indie developers were actually turned off to Microsoft due to how they treated indie developers with XBLIG placement and the recent drop of support for XNA. There are have been tons of great games developed by indie’s that included games such as The Dishwasher Samurai and DLC Quest.
He also questions how the Xbox’s user interface has become muddled and difficult to navigate. This is a similar issue I agree with and having to go two or three menu selections deep to find games or even save data can be intimidating for many users.
The full blog entry can be checked out here and share your opinions and thoughts below.