The Xbox 360 accrued an arguably bad reputation in terms of indie games publishing over the past few years. Many vocal observers – players, mostly – saw Xbox Live Arcade as a closed, unsupportive platform that asked developers for thousands of dollars
to update their own games, and Xbox Live Indie Games was a stagnant hole filled with Minecraft
clones and zombie games.
Microsoft may have to overcome this public perception with its next-gen Xbox conference today
at 10 a.m. PT. But from an indie developer's standpoint, the issues in publishing with Microsoft are different – or nonexistent.
"Working with Microsoft is great," writes
James Silva, one half of Ska Studios and creator of The Dishwasher series of XBLA games. "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."
Ska Studios works with only Microsoft
, publishing The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai
after winning the Dream Build Play competition in 2007, and from there developing The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
for XBLA, I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMB1ES 1N IT!!!1
on XBLIG and a version on Windows Phone
, and now polishing another XBLA game, Charlie Murder
Silva makes enough money developing games for Microsoft platforms to support a life of developing games for Microsoft platforms
. He says that with Microsoft as a publisher, he retains full creative control, and Microsoft supports him in terms of bug-squashing, meeting goals, play-testing, and even taking him to dinner when he's in town.
"Shortly after The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai
launched, I absolutely spent a night at my producer's cabin in Snoqualmie, drinking IPA and playing around with GarageBand," Silva says. "Yes, it was fine, it was fun, and it's unfortunate that 'everything's fine' doesn't really register as newsworthy, because there is currently a 'Microsoft is bad for indies' narrative trending in gaming news."