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Monaco Dev Blames Xbox Delay for Disappointing Sales

Monaco developer Andy Schatz speaks out on Reddit about Xbox delay issues and disappointing sales.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

“This heist has gone seriously sideways.”

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Top-down stealth action game Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine by Pocketwatch Games has not been having a good run of it lately. Despite winning two awards at the 2010 GDC Independent Games Festival (the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and the Excellence in Design award), Monaco’s Xbox sales have been disappointing at best.

Set in a modern Monte Carlo, the game is a tribute to the glorification of classic French heist crime. Another throwback to the 8-bit generation, players can choose from four different stock thief classes (and four more unlockable classes), each with their own unique attributes, from flying through locked doors and safes as a Locksmith to regenerating health while standing still and knocking out guards with chloroform as the Cleaner. Best of all, the game is available in four-person co-op, allowing for either teamwork or friendly competition to see who can pillage the objectives the fastest.

The game was originally slated for a concurrent release with the Steam launch for PC earlier this year, however just a day before the planned release on April 23, Pocketwatch Games issued this statement on their Facebook:

“We just discovered that there is an issue which requires that we push back our Xbox Live arcade game release date a little.  We’ve already submitted an update to Microsoft to fix the problem, and as soon as we know that the issue is fixed we’ll have a new release date.  I know our fans have been waiting a long time for the game, and hopefully they’ll have the patience to wait just a little while longer.  What’s mine will be yours very, very soon!”

So, while the Steam launch proceeded as planned on April 24, the game did not release on the Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade) until May 10. (Mac OS X users had to wait until July 3.)

Taking to Reddit

Developer Andy Schatz opened himself up to fan questions on Reddit yesterday to air his thoughts on the effects of the 360 delay and to shed some light on the reasons for the original launch delay.

According to Schatz, there was a bug that occurred only on the retail boxes so that the dev team were unable to catch it until the game had gone completely through the certification process. Furthermore, even though they submitted patches for the issue, they were “blind” since they were unable to actually test to reproduce the problem on the dev kits.

What was the issue? 4 player games were disconnecting nearly every game. We gamers can be impatient folk, and vocal ones at that. If this had happened at launch, there really is no telling how that would have affected sales.

However, the alternative solution doesn’t seem to have won Pocketwatch any favors, at least according to Schatz.

“I was very disappointed in Xbox sales … We put a ton of effort porting the game, and to have that effort be largely wasted was really disappointing.”

On the subject of Microsoft’s treatment of the developers and users, Schatz was a little more evasive. He went as far as saying that publisher Majesco acted as a  buffer between the devs and Microsoft… and that he didn’t think it was a good idea to piss in the pool, so he was going to keep his complaints to himself.

Not exactly a thrilling recommendation if you’re one to read between the lines.

However, the question still remains.

Does staggered release dates for multi-platform titles hurt sales?

There is certainly data for both sides of the argument. Ubisoft has been staggering its releases for Assassin’s Creed for years between the console and PC market, with only slight fan grumbling each time. Would this affect the indie development scene any differently?

In my opinion, I think the delay between releases was small enough to be just a blip on the radar. Any hype the game generated, and continues to generate because it really is quite a good, interesting, and solid game, from the Steam release is only going to bolster similar sales on the Xbox side… and this is only if word even gets out at all. Many of my own discoveries of indie titles have been in stumbling onto them in-store rather than from reading or watching rave reviews. These are things I look up while I’m considering a purchase, not generally before.

If you’re interested in this little throwback gem of a game, you can find it on Steam for PC and Mac as well as the Xbox Live Arcade for $15 USD. 

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Stephanie Tang
Avid PC gamer, long-time console lover. I enjoy shooting things in the face and am dangerously addicted to pretty. I'm also a cat.