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.

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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.
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."

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