Consoles 'handicapped' by corporate culture, says Braid creator

Indie dev Jonathan Blow says Xbox 360 and PS3 dashboard end-user experience falls short; World of Goo and Spelunky devs call console development adversarial and prohibitive.

A string of high-profile indie developers have sounded off on the struggles of developing games for consoles in a new feature at Ars Technica, using words like "adversarial," "prohibitive," and "a handicap" to describe the process.

Blow thinks Microsoft and Sony could do more with their dashboards.

"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," Braid creator Jonathan 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 said the certification process for console games, in theory, is done to ensure the prosperity and health of the marketplace. But he pointed to Apple's iTunes store as an example of a marketplace that succeeds without much of a certification process.

"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," he said. "But in fact this is not what is happening. There is no public outcry for more testing and robustness of iOS software."

Blow also forecasted the doom of consoles if they do not evolve and offer new experiences alongside competition from Apple and its iPad line. He said if next-generation consoles operate in the same way as they did in the current generation, they will become "functionally archaic in the marketplace."

Also in the Ars Technica piece was a quote from Spelunky developer Derek Yu, who admitted he understood that console development was "prohibitive," but was so enthused about bringing the game to Xbox Live Arcade that he was not deterred by the additional costs and time investment needed.

Lastly, World of Goo co-creator Ron Carmel opened up on business dealings with Microsoft, a process he described as a multifaceted challenge.

"Contract negotiations [with Microsoft Studios] are drawn out and adversarial," he 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."

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and is a big UCONN athletics fan.

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Discussion

0 comments
t0taldj
t0taldj

What's really going to kill the consoles is the new DLC trend and the half-finished games for 60 bucks. 

Agronot
Agronot

iOS and the iPad are not the solution to gaming. I refuse to believe that I can have a relevant gaming experience on a tablet regardless of who makes it! IT'S TOO DAMN SMALL!

ZippyDSMLee
ZippyDSMLee

Most media is held back and made crappy because of the insane march for profits without quality entering into the mix.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

Steam puts them all to shame. Also, thank you Valve for the latest Cold Stream update to L4D2 on PC.

fajin36
fajin36

Can't say I disagree with what he said.

rgreening
rgreening

"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,"

 

Yeah charging $1600 for a laptop that's worth $600 really shows how much apple "genuinely care" about their end users.

 

Valve on the other hand do offer a great service in steam and provide a large number of games at reasonable prices. As well as offering a platform for indie developers to get their products on a marketplace.  

The1stFishBone
The1stFishBone

Not to mention it takes 30 seconds for my games list to populate.

BloodyAura
BloodyAura

I absolutly HATE 360`s dashboard! There`s ALL this crap I dont want to see,it takes FOREVER to move through it all just to get to the end for console settings or to my music-I DONT want to see stupid ads for random resturaunts etc.I could`nt care less about apps or whatever-just let me play my game!!And where is it? Way off to the upper left,like an after thought.

shantd
shantd

Jonathan Blow looks like a serial killer.

vader501st
vader501st

Amazing how Indie devs have more common sense than most AAA developers out there.

Fursnake
Fursnake

The game industry itself is handicapped by corporate culture.

zintarr
zintarr

Everytime I look at the 360 dash I need to take a crap.

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

Looks like the PC, Ipad and the OUYA will have to make do to help indie developers. 8-\

csward
csward

He's right, traditional hardware manufactuors are facing challenges quickly. Since the PS1/N64 days, the last couple generations haven't pushed the envelope enough and consolidation of major game publishers has hindered the industry. 

 

EA, Activision and others breaking up would benefit the industry tremendously. Everyone is afraid to take risks and it is causing poor software sales because publishers have too much power. 

ronnet
ronnet

True enough the certification process on the X360 and PS3 could be faster and both platforms could be less institutionalized. But iOS isn't a good comparison. iOS is new software on new devices. It comes with plenty of junk apps as well. Apps that just don't work as they crash or glitch out. End-users are okay with this because they don't hold Apple responsible for the apps in the marketplace. They know these apps aren't made by Apple and they only paid a small price (or nothing at all) for them anyway.

 

Whereas consoles come from a different background and have a legacy. There are a lot less 'apps'/software (read: games) but the quality of these apps has to be high as end-users are paying a lot of money for them. The console and the games are part of the brand and so Sony and Microsoft feel responsible for all the apps on it. This will slowly change as they embrace the new way people view and deal with software. This is clear when you view Microsoft's strategy for Windows (Phone) 8 or Sony's dealings with Android.

 

But change won't come over night as consoles have a history, tradition or (corporate) culture behind them. Yet Microsoft has already announced that Xbox is now their entertainment brand and that their music services are now called Xbox Music. On the new dashboard there is already room for 'apps' in the new sense. The NextBox and the PS4 could bring a whole new definition to what a console is. I'm thinking that they will be more like full living room PC's running Operating Systems like Windows and Android, with a unified certification process between all related platforms.

joke_man
joke_man

Did half ot the posters not read the article at all...

Blow is comparing iOS enviroment to the XBL and PSN dashboards in terms of how user-friendly they are, etc.  He relates this to the corporate atmosphere of the companies.

The article then moves on as to the little developers/guys bringing games to XBL and PSN vs. Apple/Android.  That's really it...What's all the blah, blah, blah coproration this and that nonsense...

joke_man
joke_man

Honestly, PSN sucks (the interface, store, etc.) and Live have only gotten to be somewhat usable over the last couple of years...

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

It would be great if Live and PSN acted more like Steam.

blitzinD
blitzinD

I don't see myself giving up my console for an iphone or ipad anytime soon... sorry J. Blow.

hostX9
hostX9

If there wouldn't be Microsoft, Sony and others then there would be someone else in their shoes with their the same pure capitalistic strategy, it's just the way world is today. I don't want to say that any of them stink at everything but there are some paths which are spreading quite a strange odor of money...

deadpeasant
deadpeasant

What is he up to? Apple's certification process is a nightmare! It sounds like he's just saying stuff to benefit himself. Wouldn't be the first dev to do it.

kathulos
kathulos

I agree, Microsoft and Sony are both fairly terrible companies and there's a lot of arbitrary cash-ins on their customers, so I'm inclined to believe that they're doing it to devs also.  

 

If you need evidence of this, check out the prices on Xbox hard drives ($115 for a 320 gig external drive, versus $99 for a 1000 gig external from a regular mfgr) and Sony's Vita memory cards ($80 for a 32 gig card, while a regular 32 gig SD costs $20-25).

 

I own both systems and I'm not a Microsoft or Sony fanboy.  There are great things about each console, but price gouging is not one of them.

Draco416
Draco416

Agreed, both the Xbox and PS3 home menus are pretty sucky right now. I wish Sony would get rid of the stupid media bar and get a real interface.

thek0n
thek0n

He should play FEZ and re-think this over.

darkknight9174
darkknight9174

Who cares about the Xbox360 and PS3 "dashboard experience"? I use the systems to play games, not to admire the design of the operating system.

 

Anyway, I don't get what he is talking about when he says that iOS apps practically have no certification process. Doesn't Apple require that every application be tested and approved by them before it can be run on a device running iOS? Did he mean to say Android?

LoganWesker
LoganWesker

the WORLD is handicapped by corporate culture...its up to the people to change it but everyone is a conformed sell out. not me buddy. 

nomadski69
nomadski69

 @Agronot Your missing the point of the article.  Its not commenting on wether gameplay is better on iOS, or PC thru Valve.  Its saying the delivery mechanism to the end user is better for everyone, cheaper for developers, and a nightmare dealing with Microsoft.

 

Think about how many updates games like Angry Birds get, then think about how many your favourite Xbox games get.  A lot of improvements gets shelved because of the ridiculous pricing M$ enforce on developers for submitting updates.

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

@BloodyAura

I hope you just exxagarate a bit. In no time you can be completely on the left or the right side of the dashboard with tapping  LB/RB 3-4 times. Using the X-Guide menu also you can find the musicplayer in very short time,pick your musicfolder and there you go.

If european dashboard is the same as in the states that is ;)

hostX9
hostX9

 @shantd Hehehe a good one XD

Look at his fist in the picture, it looks just awesome :D

mammoth92
mammoth92

 @zintarr You just gave MS their new marketing campaign. They can market the dashboard to old people as a laxative.

hostX9
hostX9

 @zintarr  Just staring at my Wii is making me...hmm..... go to bed (out of boredom)  XD at least it's dashboard ain't so bad.

Fursnake
Fursnake

 @zintarr

 You should invest in a PS3. It's dashboard only makes me want to take a piss.

toshineon
toshineon

 @zintarr I feel the same, haha. Luckily, I use my Xbox 360 almost exclusively for Rock Band 3 :p

hostX9
hostX9

 @dr_jashugan Interesting I've never heard of OUYA before. It sure is a nice idea, personally I like it although using Android OS for gaming is for the developer a bit of a pain yet somehow I wish for them to succeed but the market will tell how it will sell.

hostX9
hostX9

 @blitzinD Well it's not about giving up on consoles it's more about improving them. But I don't know, PC if for me still the best "console" although a lot of people would disagree. I don't like the way of marketing which is used in the console world in general.

juboner
juboner

 @LoganWesker what r u talking about corporations r handicapping u. you wouldnt have an xbox  or ps3 to play or comment on if there wasnt corporation like them and they also provide jobs and the government has put so many restrictions on them they have to outsource those jobs to other countries. You sound like stereotypical young person today brainwashed by liberals corporations bad corporation this corporation that. 

DredWulf
DredWulf

 @LoganWesker if I may interject you're commenting on a CBS corporation owned website..you're a corporate flunky like the rest of us so don't act so fucking high and mighty...hipster.

RoryReyn
RoryReyn

 @LoganWesker

 Corporations have more rights than the average citizen in the US, and I fear that other modernized countries are following our example, and it's a dark path.  Making a profit is the bottom line and the ends justify the means.

mammoth92
mammoth92

 @hostX9 Yeah, I can't believe he took time away from cold cocking little girls to do this talk.

hostX9
hostX9

 @joke_man Well my comment might not be as direct as expected but you can get the point.

SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

 @juboner  @LoganWesker Oh shut up. You sound like a fool who kisses up to big corporations and does whatever society tells them to do instead of being your own man and standing on your own two feet. You have no dignity or self esteem. It is fools like you that should not breed.

juboner
juboner

 @DredWulf If it wasnt for the evil corporation cbs logan would not have a way of expressing his opinions about them. As a matter of fact i bet he really enjoys being able to come to this website get info on new games, comment on gaming community, etc. 

LoganWesker
LoganWesker

 @DredWulf i am not better than you, im in the same bondage as yourself..they pay us for our time (which we never get back) with paper that has made up value all to keep you chasing that carrot at the end of the stick. to keep you controlled..im not sure of your age but a revolution is coming...the younger "machines" are rejecting the program of it's predecessors..this happens from time to time hopefully they don't give up like the hippies did

darkknight9174
darkknight9174

 @RoryReyn Corporations are quite powerful, especially in the U.S. and definitely need to be kept in check. However, the government is much, much larger than any corporation in terms of how much money and power it controls. There has to be a balance between the power corporations and the government has. If the government is too big [some] corporations will try to get special favors, etc. If corporations are too powerful they will just do what they want without caring what the government thinks. The government needs to be just big enough to protect the rights of *individuals*.

LoganWesker
LoganWesker

 @RoryReyn excellent point -- look up the definition of facism and youll begin to realize what this place REALLY is...America...Land of the Fee and the Home of the Slave. 

juboner
juboner

 @SgtStrungOut  @LoganWesker lol kisses up to corp.? how do i do that. I just believe they are not a bad thing, a corporation is not bad maybe some of the people in it but thats life you will find that everyehere. your comment doesnt say anything just name calling