Double Fine director says developers are turning their back on closed platforms

Schafer: Xbox must wake up to indie exodus

Microsoft must heed warning signs that independent developers are turning their back on Xbox Live Arcade in favour of more open platforms, Double Fine founder Tim Schafer has said.

Schafer told Industry Gamers that the results of a recent survey of some 100 indie games developers should not be overlooked.

Statistics from a developer questionnaire, published October last year, suggested that an increased number of game creators were turning away from XBLA in favour of other platforms such as PSN, iOS and Steam.

Schafer, who recently announced that his crowdsourced adventure game will be published on PC and mobiles only, said Microsoft shouldn’t ignore the data.

"I was hoping that would be a really, really eye-opening article for the console manufacturers and I feel like it’s been totally dismissed,” he said.

“I really think it’s something they can’t dismiss and they should really pay a lot more attention to because he’s calling attention to a migration, an exodus of real creative talent away from those platforms to more open platforms, and I think they should do something quick to reverse that.”

Though Microsoft’s general heath in the game console business is positive, the company shouldn’t take a cavalier attitude to such warnings, Schafer claimed.

“Things change every generation and just because you’re on top and the 900 pound gorilla in one generation, as you’ve seen, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t mean it’ll be that way forever. I think that these threats that are possibly being ignored are going to hurt those guys.”

Schafer said it was Microsoft’s reluctance to open its platform that has resulted in the decreasing developer turnout. This claim has been echoed by a range of companies such as Valve and Blizzard, though the questionnaire did not appear to link dev downturn with restrictions to Xbox’s platform.

“We can put something up on the App Store pretty easily. We can put stuff up on Steam really easily. I like the Xbox and the PS3. I like Sony and Microsoft, but those systems are closed and curated very closely and it costs a lot more money to go through that system, to patch a game,” Schafer said.

The Double Fine boss recently revealed it apparently would have cost him some $40,000 to update an Xbox game.

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