Indies Moving Away From XBLA, Console Patches Cost $40,000

Discussion in 'User Submitted News' started by prowler, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. prowler
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    Member prowler Sony

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    Independent’s Day

    I ask about 2011, a year in which the studio released three excellent titles. Is that success? Is that what this is all about? “Double Fine is a company that values its independence,” says Schafer. “We really value our employees…” there’s a slight pause, and then Schafer shouts at someone else in the room, “why are you looking at me like that?! Of course I value you!” There is muffled laughter in the background and we’re back on. “And we have a responsibility to make things happen for ourselves. It’s not enough to come up with great ideas, you have to come up with great business ideas, too. You have to protect yourself.

    “But yes, we’ve been trying all these different projects, and it’s great – we have multiple teams and multiple leaders like Lee Petty, Brad Meer and Nathan Martz, people who are new, who can take on these projects. We’ll try out iOS devices, or maybe free-to-play, we’ll try licenses. We’re having a lot of fun doing it.”

    Double Fine, then, is making the most of the digital era, coping a feel of all the new platforms and delivery methods. But there are frustrations, too. Schafer has watched the Xbox Live Arcade and PSN services dwindle away from fantastically promising beginnings to troubled, even fading services. “Ever since I played Geometry Wars I thought, what a great new portal,” he enthuses.

    “But it seems that this year, the idea didn’t explode like it should have. Back when Castle Crashers came out, it seemed it was going to grow and grow. I just wish there was more support, more marketing, more placement on the dashboard. It could have been our own little Sundance Film festival, a great sandbox for indie development.

    “But the indie community is now moving elsewhere; we’re figuring out how to fund and distribute games ourselves, and we’re getting more control over them. Those systems as great as they are, they’re still closed. You have to jump through a lot of hoops, even for important stuff like patching and supporting your game. Those are things we really want to do, but we can’t do it on these systems. I mean, it costs $40,000 to put up a patch – we can’t afford that! Open systems like Steam, that allow us to set our own prices, that’s where it’s at, and doing it completely alone like Minecraft. That’s where people are going.”

    http://www.hookshotinc.com/interview-schafers-millions/

    This is why devs are moving away from consoles.
     
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  2. Qtis

    Member Qtis Grey Knight Inquisitor

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    No surprise there. $40k is quite a bit of money for someone who makes games that go for a nice $5 or something instead of $70. Also indie game market is a bit smaller in comparison (sales volume-wise).

    Now I start understanding why some companies may not even want to make a patch on some systems. Wonder if this has been a deciding factor for example Bethesda and their games (Fallout3 being one with quite a few big issues)..
     
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  3. Veho

    Global Moderator Veho The man who cried "Ni".

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    :wacko:

    That costs more than some games cost to develop. How much does it cost to get your game on XBLA?
     
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  4. BoxmanWTF

    Member BoxmanWTF ♪Toot Toot Sonic Warrior♫

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    $40,000?!?!
    now that's just wrong
     
  5. FireGrey

    Member FireGrey Undercover Admin

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    I like the way android approached it.
    Aren't games 100% free to make on android?
     
  6. jrk190

    Member jrk190 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    You'd make a 1 dollar profit, maybe... Damn Microsoft making a monopoly
     
  7. Qtis

    Member Qtis Grey Knight Inquisitor

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    Probably a few times the $40,000 and a soul or two. Probably two. The online features cost quite a few cents per year for the big companies and I can understand the costs in that way. On the other hand, how much do "real devs" (non-indie) pay for PSN/XBLA coverage of their game? :I

    http://support.googl...n&answer=112622 and the bigger picture http://www.android.c...-agreement.html. Technically free in a way, but you still have to give 30% in commissions to Google. Possibly even more things needed for the whole picture, but having a dev account etc. is not the easiest way to make business.
     
  8. raulpica

    Supervisor raulpica With your drill, thrust to the sky!

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    I remember reading somewhere that Apple allowed for higher profits. Can't remember if because of lower commissions or something. That explains why major indie titles almost always land on iOS first.
     
  9. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    $40.000 per patch? Boo-hoo.

    It's math time ladies and gentlemen:

    Indie games are priced $1, $3 or $5 each. Let's assume that Microsoft snags half of it (it doesn't, but let's use the big guns). That means that worst-case scenario, you need to sell 80.000 games to get the funds for a patch, best scenario would be 16.000. Let's take the worst-case scenario - the $1 game.

    First, let's add development cost, keeping in mind that it's an indie game. Development time would be anywhere between a few months up to a year, so we add a $99 subscription fee to Microsoft's development program, about $40.000 as the development costs and $40.000 as the cost of the first patch. Rounds up to +/- $120.100.

    ...if you can't even sell 200.000 games then you should probably look for a different occupation because there are 66 million XBox 360'ties out there. That means that there's at least 66 million users, I'm not even mentioning the fact that certain XBox 360'ties are shared so multiple accounts could buy the same game, really.

    This basically means that if you can't afford the patch, not even 0,2% of all XBox users around the world didn't give two f*cks about your sh*tty game. They didn't buy it despite the fact it costs $1.

    The End.
     
  10. Qtis

    Member Qtis Grey Knight Inquisitor

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    Apple also has 30% commissions and the $99/year dev kit costs. Apparently the Android dev kit is free, but still doesn't make it profitable if you don't sell enough titles.. Just like quite a few other markets.

    I believe there is a charge of something like $20 (one off payment) to get an account to put stuff on the App Market. Other than that, all you pay is commission.

    C'mon how many people search XBLA frequently for new titles? For example, if I go to PSN, I go there for a certain item. I rarely go search for new programs and such. Thus I'd be one of the PSN users that could be counted in the total possible buyers. Also are all of the 360s online?

    Also how many indie publishers can make the games show on PSN/XBLA when compared to high budget, high marketed games like BF3 and MW3 (quite a lot of marketing done on both services)?

    I'd say that also has a lot to do with how ridiculously easy it is to pirate on Android. All it takes is for someone with a rooted phone to install an app, pull the APK off, then get a refund (on Android you have 15 minutes to get a refund - used to be a day but it shortened because of piracy), then host the APK online somewhere. Then anyone can install the APK without any sort of hack to their phone. On iOS, you have to at least jailbreak your device to be able to pirate. And the fact that iOS devices are more wide spread, particularly with people who are likely to play games.
     
  11. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Perhaps it's not a large ammount of users, but it's definatelly greater then 0,2%. ;)

    Provided 1% of users (+/- half-a-million) checked out news on XBLA and 1 each 5 of'em bought it for that buck, the developer would be able to afford the patch no problemo, and I assure you, more people check out XBLA news.

    There is only one rule of the Video Game industry - Good games with good labels sell great, good games sell well, bad games don't sell at all.
     
  12. prowler
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    Member prowler Sony

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    Stop justifying it, 40k is NOT acceptable.

    Steam and iOS allow you to patch for free, why not Microsoft? (Let's not forget the HUGE restriction Microsoft has on patches)

    Edit: Oh and XBLA games are hardly advertised on the Dashboard, so even if the game is great, it doesn't get the advertisement needed to set off.

    I find it really stupid that you're taking the "if your game is good, it will sell and everything will be ok" approach to this. What if all the game needs is some patches (like Minecraft for example) to become better but nope, can't do that because reviews are calling it bad and nobody is buying it.
     
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  13. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    It's called natural quality control - survival of the fittest. If the product can't even make a measily 40k of profit then it probably shouldn't be on XBLA in the first place.

    Apple allows uploading all sorts of crap onto the store, that's why it's contents are mostly shovelware.

    A game should be playable from beginning to end before being uploaded. It should be thoroughly tested so that possible patches would fix only minor issues. If the dev studio takes the risk and submits an unfinished product then it deserves all that's comming for it.

     
  14. prowler
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    Member prowler Sony

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    You're missing the fucking point.
    What about Skyrim? That has a huge number of bugs, some even making the game unplayable (PS3 version), does that mean it's okay for them? No, it's still unacceptable but people bought the game anyway.

    Bugs can't be helped if they crop up in the finished/release product. If all it takes is one patch but they've just passed the 40k mark, that means they've just wasted all their money and have to start over again, hoping that there is still more people wanting to buy the game.

    You're forgetting the huge number of people that just go on XBLA looking to find a game to play right there and then. Not that many people care to check out review sites before buying a simple XBLA game.

     
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  15. soulx

    Member soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    That's pretty fucking outrageous. $40,000 just to patch a game?
     
  16. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    No, no I'm not. This is a buisness and games are supposed to make a profit. The files are stored and distributed via Microsoft servers, which by the way, don't run on thin air and good wishes. If you can't program a product that will sell then don't attempt selling it.
    That's... actually an argument countering what you said previously. You're implying that the game will sell anyways despite the bugs if its good, thus nullifying the "absolute necessity" of requiring patches in the first place.
    Welcome to the world of buisness?
    You're flinging your point from one edge to the other. First you want people to know that Indie Games are dandy via good promotion, now you say that people don't give a damn about advertisements. It's a fair game - players all have access to the same Dashboard and they all have the access to the exact same Indie Games section, so provided they don't read reviews everybody has a fair chance to make a sale.

    Now that that's settled, let me clarify one thing: _prowler has a nasty tendency to infer meaning that's simply not there. All I said was "40 grand is not a big price to pay for a patch - a successful title will easily amass that kind of money", not once have I said that this is proper pricing. Obviously uploading patches should be free, I'm not arguing againts that. What I'm arguing againts is the "brawlablablah everything should be free!" approach - Indie developers are like any other developer and they don't deserve any special treatment whatsoever. As I said earlier, XBox Live servers aren't running on thin air.
     
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  17. DarkStriker

    Member DarkStriker GBAtemp's Kpop lover!

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    Lol. All games sell if it is known. Look at all those pokemon showelware? They sell despite being bad some of them. Skyrim is no exception. Comparing a small indie company with no cents to go with against a big shot gun like bethseda that have way more fortune? I dont think so. You are basically being a Marie Antoinette 2. Successful or not. New games from unknown developers will always have a harder time selling than a known one. And like everyone else. This is business and people rather buy something that is known to them rather than new to them.
     
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  18. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    Never said otherwise, what I said was that they need to reach a certain level of quality and they need to be based on an entertaining concept in the first place to actually sell.

    There was a time when every "big" company was a "small" company. They don't just grow like mushrooms - they release quality products and gain recognition over time.
     
  19. DarkStriker

    Member DarkStriker GBAtemp's Kpop lover!

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    Sure they did, but looking at your post it looks like your still comparing them right away with the big guns without giving them time to develop and improve like the other companies. Which of course is stupid, according to what you just said. And just so you know, castle crashers wasnt a failure. Indie games sells for cheap and thus is way harder to hit the 40k point compared to other games that sells for like 10-30 times more than a indie game. The point of this is that they cant afford it becasue indie games are and most likely will always be cheap.
     
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  20. Foxi4

    Reporter Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    You realize that those "other companies" that are now "big" also grew up basically from scratch when there were "bigger" companies around, right? There are very little "big" players left that were "in the buisness" since its dawn.
    It can't be "stupid" because I've never made the comparison in the first place. What I said was that Indie Games right now are developed alongside bigger productions, that much is certain, however they are priced 60-30 times lower then the bigger productions, thus they have a different kind of appeal. A well-designed Indie game is perfectly capable of selling great even though it'll never make as much as a "big" production. Look at Angry Birds - have you EVER heard of Rovio before they released that game? No. But it was sucessful enough to create a powerful brand and make loads of money, and let me remind you, it's not exactly "expensive".
    It was not.
    How is the price of the product even remotely connected to sales in a negative way? It's a HIGH price that the customer CANNOT afford that may impede sales, not a low, affordable one. If anything, it's a positive trait, not a negative one.
    Perhaps it's time to start selling $1 games for $5 and $5 games for $10 then. Belief in your product is the first step towards success. That, and good advertising.

    Look at Shaffer. He raised $1.000.000 dollars in 24 hours promoting a game that doesn't even exist yet in the internet alone. So, "Can it be done"? "Yes it can".
     

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