XBL Indie market 'prohibitively small' - Clover dev

Binary Tweed managing director Daniel Jones says he can't turn a profit releasing critically acclaimed title via console's community game initiative.


Angry Barry

Microsoft envisioned its Xbox Live Community Games program (soon to be relabeled XBL Indie Games) as a way to foster the independent game development scene by lowering the barriers to entry and letting even amateur coders sell their wares to an audience of Xbox 360 owners. While the service has produced a number of standout efforts, creators still see plenty of room for improvement.

Clover wasn't so lucky when it came to sales.
Clover wasn't so lucky when it came to sales.

In an interview with Digital Spy, Clover developer and Binary Tweed managing director Daniel Jones said the game has been underperforming in sales and isn't likely to recoup its development costs on the service.

"Frustratingly enough, the critical reception to the game has been good," Jones told the site, adding, "The size of the [XBL Community Games] market is prohibitively small to be financially viable, so I can only see it being of use to Binary Tweed as an arena for proving concepts."

One of the problems Jones called out is the relative popularity of nongame applications like controller vibrating massager programs or faux fireplace displays on the service. When Clover launched, he said eight of the 10 best-selling titles on the service were applications rather than games.

Jones isn't alone in critiquing the Community Games program. In an appearance this week on GameSpot's HotSpot podcast, Arrogancy Games' Aaron McCray was more upset by the redundancy of many nongame applications than by the nature of them.

"It's an open platform, and anybody should be able to make games on there, but we're getting a mentality where a lot of people are trying to cash in really quickly," McCray said. "We'll have 20 massagers coming out because one sold well and it only takes a week to make them."

Is Barry a bad enough dude to be the president?
Is Barry a bad enough dude to be the president?

Another hurdle for Community Games developers to clear is in getting exposure. McCray conceded that his main audience on the service tends to consist of other Community Games developers because Microsoft does little to promote its existence.

However, both McCray and Jones saw an upside to the program. Jones told Digital Spy that the publicity surrounding Clover has opened doors for Binary Tweed, and McCray noted that Microsoft has been steadily improving support for the service. The Angry Barry developer was also optimistic that soon-to-be-implemented features like user reviews for games and apps would further help developers draw attention to their efforts.

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