Reinforcing the Microsoft is bad for indies narrative doesn't hurt them, it hurts indies, says Ska Studios dev

Indie defends Microsoft in face of trending criticism

Microsoft’s role as an indie game publisher is misunderstood, says the developer behind upcoming XBLA title Charlie Murder.

Writing in a blog, James Silva challenged perceptions of Microsoft as an overbearing publisher that uses stringent guidelines to get games published on its platforms.

Silva insisted that his game company, Ska Studios, had full creative control on Charlie Murder, in which the main character uses a Windows Phone as an information hub.

He stated that 100 per cent of the non-localised content for the game was made by him and co-developer Michelle, except from a few gaming “celebrities" which make cameos in the title.

The indie also said that Microsoft had been very helpful in the title’s development, assisting with localisation, finding and fixing bugs and telling them how close they are to passing the certification process.

“Not to say we’ve ever really butted heads with them, because, quite franky… Working with Microsoft is great,” he said.

“I have heard a few stories that contradict my experience, and I know quite a few people who are happier on platforms other than XBLA, and that’s fine for them. XBLA is a closed, carefully curated platform with its own set of fairly rigid standards and protocols. For me, it was just a matter of “do the work, release the game,” and that’s exactly what we did."

Silva went on to say that the idea that “Micrsosoft is bad for indies” had become a narrative trend in the news, with the ugly truth more newsworthy than “everything is fine”. He said that such a narrative didn’t hurt Microsoft, but actually hurt indie developers.

“I vividly remember reading this IGN article calling XBLIG a failure roughly a year into its life and thinking basically the same thing: telling thousands of readers that Microsoft is failing at indie gaming is telling thousands of potential customers that Microsoft is failing at indie gaming,” he said.

“And while everyone likes a sale, the ones who really, desperately need the money aren’t the Microsoft people who greenlight the projects, they’re the indie developers who are trying to quit their day jobs, trying to buy a house, trying to raise a baby.

"As a consumer, would you think twice about buying a game from a “failed platform?” Would you hesitate at buying an indie game from a company that “screws indies?” But that’s the current narrative, and while it sucks for Microsoft, it sucks a lot more for indie developers who are publishing on XBLA.”

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