A Rocky Relationship Between Microsoft and Indie Game Developers?

xbox 360 logo

A few top indie developers have stated that working with Microsoft can be quite a pain. In a recent Wired interview, Jonathon Blow—creator of the popular indie title Braid—mentioned that” Microsoft treats independent developers very badly” and that they intend to “put you through as much pain as you will endure in order to extract whatever [they] feel like this week.”

Sounds very inquisition-like, doesn’t it? Imagine you’re an indie developer just working on a game. You’ve been in talks with Microsoft along with a few others about getting your game on their consoles’ marketplace when—BAM!–Microsoft comes bursting into your living room and with a transportable torture wheel and the rack.

Sounds like the making for a game right there.

Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano also had similar interactions with Microsoft. The company axed his game from the Xbox Live Arcade release window after he discussed the difficulties with the process. Provinciano went on to mention that Microsoft had him resubmit his game only to release the game at $10 which was a $5 cut from what the original price was to be. Luckily he had a better time dealing with Sony and Nintendo stating that Sony was “…incredibly supportive and promoted the game very well,” and “Both Sony and Nintendo actively listen to feedback from developers and make improvements”. Retro City Rampage would go on to be released as WiiWare, on PC, the PlayStation Network, and Live Arcade.

Wired informed Microsoft of the comments and were answered with an email basically stating that Microsoft does their best for indie developers to feel welcome on Live Arcade. Still it looks as though developers are finding flexible and welcoming homes with Sony and Nintendo consoles.

This is all very interesting given that Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade (as well as Steam) was a hotspot for indie developers to really showcase their work for some time whereas Sony were trying to wrench as much as they could out of developers and Nintendo wouldn’t put anyone’s titles out unless they had something resembling an office. This change in attitudes from both companies could really play in their favor as independent titles will continue to bring that old school vibe and only get more and more ambitious if Journey is any indication.


Starting with Kabir News in 2013, James has focused on tech, gaming, and entertainment. When not writing, he enjoys catching up on sci-fi and horror shows and comics. He can be followed on Twitter @MetalSwift.

Leave a Comment