A few days ago I posted an article from Nathan Fouts in which he explains why he postpones the peer review for the new game Explosionade from Mommy´s Best Games. This article has gotten quite a bit of attention and even big sites mentioned it.
A very good follow up has been written by DrMistry, the developer behind games like Space Pirates from Tomorrow. The following excerpt explains the problem very well and allows for a quick overview on the Indie Devs Pains with the “broken” XBLIG channel problems.
Let’s say a game were to go to release on a Thursday. That’s the ideal day to get to market, because you should be on New Releases, Top Downloads and (if you’ve done your job right) Top Rated over the following weekend. Let’s also say that the lists hang just as the game package is being processed. You have a list of about 50 games behind you in peer review waiting for release too, and on some days as many as 10 titles have all gone through to market. So the game comes out, the New Releases list doesn’t update, so no-one sees it, no-one downloads it, and no-one rates it. Even if people did see it, the Top Downloads list is down too! The weekend sales past, and in the course of 5 days another 30 or so games come out. Your 4 months of graft, testing, tweaking, polishing, sleepless nights, time away from your family and friends has all been for nothing. The game that you poured your heart and soul into has disappeared without a trace. You might get lucky and have some good web reviews, but the disconnect between web publicity and dashboard sales can clearly be seen. At best, you’ll be bagging 10 or so sales a day. For an 80-point game, after MS and the IRS take their cut, that’s about $5 a day. Yep. 5 dollars. Compare that to 500 downloads a day for a game which goes from New Releases to Top Downloads and Top Rated within a few days. That’s closer to $245 a day, which is more reasonable if you’re doing this for a living. That’s a massive difference – the kind of difference which can mean someone can pay their mortgage or not.
There have been at least 3 BIG outages of the lists so far this year – one of which went on for a week and absolutely slaughtered the sales for a number of games. Breath Of Death was one of the few which managed to recoup some sales, but they would have done much, much better without the glitch robbing them of vital dashboard exposure. There’re also regular “hiccups” on the lists and data which, while less serious, are still an inconveniece and undermine developer confidence in the system. So what are Microsoft doing about it? Well…not much. Those complaining during the big, week long outage were told basically nothing could or would be done. It now appears that meant nothing done for individual titles OR about the basic problem, because it’s still happening.
You find the full article here.