XBLA Dev: 'Dreaded Realities of Business Models' Setting In

An Xbox Live Arcade developer admits to Shacknews that the Xbox 360's much-vaunted download service might be turning more traditional.

Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade was once billed as a utopia for independent developers, where smaller studios could easily develop and cheaply distribute new titles. That may be changing as the "dreaded realities of business models" set in, Frozen Codebase design director Norb Rozek tells Shacknews.

"Uh," Rozek responded when asked if he thought it odd Microsoft recommended a publisher to the studio, whose upcoming Arcade game Screwjumper is published by THQ. "I think Xbox Live Arcade has gotten to the point where the dreaded realities of business models are setting in. The wild wild west period is over."

Green Bay-based independent developer Frozen Codebase began developing its debut game Screwjumper for Arcade in 2006. The company originally pitched the game directly to Microsoft but was recommended to sign with a publisher rather than go straight to the service.

"[Being told to find a publisher] doesn't strike us as weird," Rozek continued, "but things aren't quite as 'yee-haw, kick down the doors, let's going in with our guns blazing' as you would like to hope. But what the hell, that's just the way things are, man."

Under conditions of anonymity, developers from other studios have indicated to Shacknews similar observations about Xbox Live Arcade's shift towards a more traditional, less "indie" publishing environment, citing high royalties, steep competition for room on the service, and a priority on safer projects.

Frozen Codebase signed a two-game contract with THQ. In a Shacknews interview published today, the company revealed it is also working with Vivendi on an unannounced project for an unknown platform, though it is likely an Xbox Live Arcade title as well.

Still, Frozen Codebase doesn't see reliance upon publishers necessarily as a bad thing, especially as it relates to marketing and quality assurance testing.

"As much as I like it, I think [in the indie environment] there's a lot of whining about how publishers are big, bad and evil," noted Frozen Codebase producer Ben Geisler. "If you find the right publisher, there will be a benefit there."

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 29, 2007 12:50 PM

    I thinking that the "Youtube of Games", XNA, will change this business model somewhat, creating a different avenue for hobbists and indie developers. At least that's what I hope, because what's forthcoming for XNA and it's potential is really quite exciting.

    • reply
      October 29, 2007 12:51 PM

      Hopefully. We haven't heard much on the XNA front recently but I imagine it's chugging along

      • reply
        October 29, 2007 1:14 PM

        version 2.0 is supposed to be out this holiday season offering full visual studio integration... which i think will help alot.

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