Now a statement as the one above gets attention. It´s complete and utterly bullshit, but it is definately something that any reader will follow up on. Since you are reading these lines you know that it´s true.
Kotaku just published an article about J-Force, a bunch of poor indie game developers that out of desperation, because they couldn´t come up with a compelling game idea, tried to bring a game mixing up “Zombies”, “Avatars” and “Massage” in one title to XBLIG. Their description for the game was something along the lines of “quick cash grab” as far as I remember. It´s a pretty good article that tells the story of a game that had a really tough time getting on the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace.
I´m impressed! Not a joke – I mean what I say!
First – J-Force managed to make over $50k with a game that basicly is just a reflex test. That´s an impressive number on the XBLIG channel!
Second – they got an article on Kotaku.com, a site visited by a lot of gamers. And the article not only mentions the name of the company, but also those of the devs and even shows pictures of them. Before that they got mentioned by great game devs like James Silva. Maybe not in a good way, but they got so many links to their site by now that a lot of people know the name J-Force.
They are whining about how unfairly they have been treated by the developer community. And truth to be told – they have been. When a game goes up for peer review the fellow developers have the task to check a game for failable problems. And when they don´t like you they will try really hard to find a reason to fail you. When I was in the army and the task on hand was cleaning my weapon I was completely in the hands of my superior – if he wanted to fail my cleaning efforts all he needed to do was to put his little finger into the weapon. There was no way anyone could clean a 20+ year old gun in a way that his finger would come out perfectly clean. It´s kind of the same with indie games – if they want to find something, they will find something.
That´s why I never should have told my superior how stupid I thought the whole army nonsense is. I spend quite a bit of time cleaning weapons. I was stupid, but I was also true to myself. J-Force on the other is not honest when they complain. I doubt that they were blind and I very much doubt the last sentence of the Kotaku article:
“I think my plan backfired,” Eden wrote to me back in August. Even then it had been clear he’d stirred a hornet’s nest rather than stomped a hornet. “I guess I went about it totally the wrong way?”
That´s plain and simple BULLSHIT! They got what they wanted – the hard to get exposure. Those guys are pretty smart and maybe they had to jump through a couple of hoops to get their game on the marketplace, but it will get for sure a lot of extra attention for it. A lot more than they would have gotten by investing the same amount of real development time into the title. They just had to wait a couple of extra weeks before it was released and since now is a better time for console gaming anyway it certainly won´t hurt. And they looted out the limits on how far they could go without risiking getting pulled for unappropiate behavior.
To get back to the beginning of this article…
“We feel like we just can’t reason with these people, they’re like women,” Eden told me over e-mail in late August…
A comment like that will get you attention. If you write something like that to a journalist you don´t need to add “please quote me!”, it´s a given. Sure you will alienate most women – but it´s simple math to see that this won´t hurt sales too much because not that many women are visiting the sites that are quoting it. Pretty sure even their girlfriends or mothers will never know about the nice things those guys have to say about their gender.
Is it honorable? Not in my opinion, because I personally think the XBLIG channel should be used to promote great games and not stupid apps or bad shitty games. But it is a smart business decision – with all the crap on the channel this one title rises to the top of the crap because they at least managed to get the attention for it.
I doubt that J-Force will ever bring an innovative hit game to the marketplace. But I will definately check out their “big project” just to see if I was right. And I´m pretty sure that this is true for all the developers that made their peer review this time a hell. Since it´s a lot easier to find problems in a game that is more complex there might even be a chance that devs will fail this epic masterpiece of theirs again and again. At that time I might believe it when I read the line: “I think my plan backfired…”