Indie dev says Microsoft "used to be a**holes," but now that's changing

Hyper Light Drifter creator Alex Preston says Microsoft's new ID@Xbox program is part of a new and "friendlier" era for Microsoft.

Hyper Light Drifter

Many developers have spoken out to praise Microsoft's indie efforts through its new ID@Xbox program, but the Xbox maker's relationship with the little guys wasn't always such a positive thing. In a new interview, Hyper Light Drifter creator Alex Preston used some pretty blunt language to describe the way in which he recalled Microsoft handling developer relations, but explained that things have improved of late.

"Microsoft used to be a**holes about it, for sure," told Edge. "But they've become a lot friendlier and that's to do with [ID@Xbox head Chris Charla] and his team. He's awesome. He's a major proponent for smaller developers like us."

Preston isn't the only indie developer to speak openly about a less-than-enjoyable experience working with Microsoft in the past. Super Meat Boy creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes did not hold back in discussing their struggles working with Microsoft in the documentary Indie Game: The Movie.

On top of that, War Thunder developer Gaijin Entertainment CEO Anton Yudintsev told GameSpot at GDC last month that Microsoft has a lot of "unspoken limitations" and that often times, one person and one person alone decides whether your game gets published or not. Like Preston, however, Yudintsev said he's already seen a change for the better with Microsoft's new ID@Xbox program.

One thorny issue that remains with Microsoft's ID@Xbox program is its controversial "launch parity" clause. This stipulation requires that developers release their games on Xbox One the same day they do on other platforms, thereby eliminating the possibility of a timed-exclusive for competing platforms like the PC or PlayStation 4. Microsoft's official line for this policy is that it will review publishing agreements on a case-by-case basis and this stance isn't going to change anytime soon, even if some developers might want it to.

"The parity thing is a problem. It's not a good policy for Microsoft and I definitely don't think it helps small developers," Preston told Edge. "There's not really any reason to do it and it's one of those old relic things…I think we'll see it disappear eventually."

For Strike Suit Zero developer Ready Games CEO James Brooksby, the future for indie games on Xbox One is looking bright.

"The right kind of people are being put in place around this--it doesn't feel like we have that kind of bureaucratic, corporate stuffy-suits people," Brooksby told Edge. "There's clearly a gathering of people with the right mentality coming in and that makes a big difference. It feels like internally a lot of people [at Microsoft] have been campaigning for this."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Want the latest news about Strike Suit Zero?

Strike Suit Zero

Strike Suit Zero

Follow

Discussion

173 comments
smokeless_0225
smokeless_0225

I didn't even read this article (it's another Eddie one so who cares, right?) but the title was pretty funny. I kept thinking of reversing the words from Major Pain into:

"You are no longer $&!^ sandwiches, but now you are soggy $&!^ sandwiches!"

playmynutz
playmynutz

I use to be an a**hole to Microsoft :-P

F-Rott
F-Rott

The release parity clause is still stupid. Of course they're changing their direction now that they're not dominating in console sales. This isn't the 360 generation. Developers don't have to deal with their s*** anymore. There are other, more lucrative, less restrictive options.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

They are no longer assholes! Look at all the money they gave me for this piece of publicity!


Apparently they couldn't afford someone more important.

theKSMM
theKSMM

They "used to be a-holes."  Wow, what deep insight into the gaming industry that provided me.  :-/

This is less provocative than it sounds.  It's not an indictment of Microsoft so much as an indication of the way that young men routinely talk these days, using curse words as modifiers for other curse words or to fill in the blanks when their vocabulary fails them.

Vinnvn
Vinnvn

Microsoft "used to be a**holes," but now that's changing to Fuking a**holes.


Fixed.

jemoedr
jemoedr

It's probably changing since they saw how succesfull they where on the PS3...

Vodoo
Vodoo

The parity clause makes plenty of sense. Everyone knows that once a game releases on a system ahead of the other competing platforms, that once it releases on those secondary systems it never sells as good as if they all launched together. Whether it be that everyone bought it for that first system or the game's old news by the time it'll release for the other platforms, it just doesn't sell as well. So it makes sense for Microsoft to want multiplat games to all release simultaneously.

It's not that big of a deal. And they already said in the past that if the developer already had a timed exclusive in place with Sony before talking to Microsoft, that it's no big deal. Like Harrison said, it's a case by case basis. But as a general rule for multiplats, they have to launch simultaneously. It works out better for the dev also because they'll get better sales.

Why do you think Ubisoft wouldn't launch Rayman on the Wii U before it finished the other versions? This is common knowledge and it looks like GameSpot is just looking to cause a problem where there isn't one.

gplayer5
gplayer5

Used to be a**holes? I thought they still were... WAIT, that must be the April fool's joke. =D

nightsinner
nightsinner

I guess I suffer from oldschoolgameritus.  All these young whippersnappers seam to turn their noses up at the indie games.  Me personally, I enjoy the hell out of them. It reminds me of the good old days when gameplay and creativity were front and center.  Of course I have to wonder how many AAA studios started out as a bunch of kids with an idea in someones basement with a computer?  I think that's a testament to the shortsightedness of today's youth.  A generation that know everything but have done nothing.  

nicecall
nicecall

indy games are like smelly diapers.  I just don't want to be anywhere near them

lonesamurai1
lonesamurai1

Indie games on console huh? well you can count me out.

lateralus1
lateralus1

"used to be a**holes".... right... as if they aren't still a bastard company.

immortaltech6
immortaltech6

When revenue and rep is going down, chameleons front as humans. 

helldragonzer
helldragonzer

Does anyone know if the stupid "launch parity" thing also means they have to wait a specific certain amount if time to release to other consoles, because if not then I honestly doesn't see a big issue here, they are indies and they can use all the help they can get, even if it's from MS.

deth420
deth420

...now their just b***holes!

Ha2e
Ha2e

One way to cure assholism in a company is to hurt their wallets.

zintarr
zintarr

I KNEW this would be an Eddie piece.

northArrow
northArrow

APRIL FOOLS!


They're still assholes

strothers101
strothers101

@VinnvnYou love a company. One that makes more money in a minute than you will make in your entire life. You are a fanboy, a phony gamer who is either too blind or too cheap to buy more than one system. I know I'm going out on a limb with regards to judgements about you as a person, but..i know I'm right.

Blood_Angel
Blood_Angel

@Vodoo  The thing is, it's expensive to develop games for multiple platforms when you're a little indie studio, so often times they release on one, then gets funds to port to the others and this clause sort of says that you have to start with Xbox or else you might not be on the platform. Which is underhanded and bulls**t.

RobDev
RobDev

@Vodoo  how exactly is gamespot causing any problems? The DEVELOPERS said they didn't like it, what part of that can you not understand?

Ensabuhnur
Ensabuhnur

@nightsinner  Played my 1st game in the early 80s and EVERY one of the now AAA studios used to be an indie at some point.

CyrenII
CyrenII

@nightsinner I've only been gaming since '98 and I totally agree with this. The anti-indie commenters here seem to mostly be those that go into convulsions if they aren't shooting something every 45 seconds

jemoedr
jemoedr

@nicecall  Then you really are missing out on some damn good games

mattress805
mattress805

That's where all the creativity in games is these days. Enjoy call of duty 10. Lol

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

@helldragonzer It means if they want to release their game on Xbox One, they would have to wait before launching their game on other platforms, even if the game is ready for those other platforms.  For small developers this can lead to problems because they are delaying a return on their investment.

vscott453
vscott453

@northArrow  As much as I wanted to upvote because of the almost witty comment, i just can't. What experience do you have directly that ties with knowing how microsoft is now treating their potential clients?

Ensabuhnur
Ensabuhnur

@Blood_Angel @Vodoo  You are leaving out a BIG part - as of this writing these indies are given tools from Microsoft for Free to develop on and sometimes even hardware for free - that comes with a cost.  Most of these indie games are not hardware specific and very few use anything that is intrinsic to either system so porting while certainly more time consuming is not nearly as hard here as say it would be from ios to android.  They are building this stuff on PC to start with and then porting over.  I do not think its too much to ask to hold release for both consoles.

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

@CyrenII @nightsinnerI've been gaming since 93 and I feel most indie games are just recycling ideas from around that period. I rather boot some retro game than play that new one. Of course, these days my amount of game purchasing is about 5% of what it once was so maybe I'm just out of the market anyway.

Gatorjosh14
Gatorjosh14

@ziseknsa @immortaltech6  It's too bad that Sony doesn't have a decades old monopoly on a popular operating system. 


You act as if Microsoft needs Xbox to make a profit.  Xbox is a very tiny drop in their bucket, which is why they were contemplating selling off that part of the business.


Sony on the other hand has to compete in an ever increasingly competitive electronics market.  They obviously haven't always made the best decisions, but the PS4 has by far better overall gaming hardware and value compared to the Xbox One.


Think about that, then talk...

mr_nee
mr_nee

@vscott453 change in licensing policies for enterpise SW, "parity" policy (very bad for best indie devs), Windows appstore... 

ROOST3R117
ROOST3R117

@Vinnvn @strothers101  LOL people, I never saw Microsoft as a**holes, I have always enjoyed their products. I have both Xbox and PS4, both are great.


Why do some people hate one another?

Vinnvn
Vinnvn

@Ensabuhnur @strothers101 @Vinnvn  

"hate a company for no reason" 

Did you just come out of a cave?  Lames like you hate a company and put on makeup to be like true gamer.

Ensabuhnur
Ensabuhnur

@strothers101 @Vinnvn  You makes a great point actually.  I agree I think losers like these lames who claim to hate a company for no reason do so because they are broke.  Real Gamers take a different approach they judge a system based on its GAMES, not just hardware and certainly not by name.  These lames represent the same idiots who love Apple even when its obvious that Android has leveled the field.  Or people who blindly love Xbox not recognizing that the Playstation also has great content.


This community would be better served when haters like this get better jobs or A job and an opportunity to expand their buying power.  I love all systems that have games that I enjoy regardless of platform - really wish these kids were better trained to understand those concepts or at the least trained to not crowd think.

strothers101
strothers101

@Vinnvn @strothers101 ah, get a job he says. Seems I've hit a nerve. You are desperate, foaming at the mouth and biting back at anyone who sheds light on your affliction.

se007
se007

@Darkfall_05 @se007@Gatorjosh14@ziseknsa@immortaltech6 With my experience, they always make compromises with their product, take their phones for example. In sony ericsson era their phones were made from cheap lousy plastic that was prone to scratches and the paint took of easily. The modern sony phones usually have less capable hardware than their rivals for that price, be it CPU or display or whatever. Based on that, it would be wise to stay away from their products in general I think, the playstation brand being one lucky exception.

Darkfall_05
Darkfall_05

@se007 @Darkfall_05@Gatorjosh14@ziseknsa@immortaltech6Well, you are right from my own research into a recent TV purchase. I chose an LG over the cheaper Bravia because of bad reviews relating to screen imperfections and lack of DLNA certification (in australia).
Still believe their higher end models may still be worth their premium value

se007
se007

@Darkfall_05 @se007@Gatorjosh14@ziseknsa@immortaltech6There's nothing premium in their tv's for long now, they are cheap looking, flimsy plastic products with terrible UI and quite often limited functionality compared to the similary priced rivals. Altough their image quality is usually quite decent.

se007
se007

@Gatorjosh14 @ziseknsa@immortaltech6 Well, sony always made crappy products with high price and bad quality. It's no surprise that they ended up in current situation. Honestly, playstation is basically the only decent product that they have.