Oddworld’s Lanning Says Xbox Continues to Ignore Indies

The Oddworld Inhabitant's Co-Founder Warns Microsoft is Mishandling Independent Developers at Their Peril
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Another E3 Victory for Sony?

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Coming away from this year’s conference, so many critics, players and industry leaders have pointed out why they feel the Playstation 4 won their hearts and minds over the upcoming Xbox One. Add independent game developers to that list.

Taking the stage this year with seven other indie developer’s at Sony’s E3 press conference, Oddworld Inhabitant’s Co-founder Loren Lanning said he was “floored at how open Sony’s been, and, in my opinion, really smart and prophetic they’ve been. The indie aspect is going to be a big thing.” 

Lanning was there to promote Oddworld: New and Tasty for the PS4.

The fact that Sony asked eight independent developers to share the stage during the presentation and promote the PS4 is why so many smaller companies develop product for Sony consoles. 

…just being there was winning enough.

History Continues to Repeat

Despite the increase in sales of indy developed product and the rise of Kickstarter projects allowing more and more games to produced without a big publisher deal or co-op agreement with a manufacturer, Microsoft still is not allowing companies to self-release on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade).

For the independents, this means giving up revenue share and possibly creative control just to get their product onto XBLA. 

“At the business level, Microsoft isn’t acknowledging people like us. It’s as if we don’t matter.” – Lanning

Though there are success stories on XBLA, like Mojang’s Minecraft, those developers had to have name partners for their product to get the Xbox public. And this system has been in place since the original Xbox. And it doesn’t look like this attitude is going to change anytime soon.

Lanning went on to say – 

Ten years from now, the biggest banners out there, the hundred million dollar games, are going to be what happened in the indie community. That’s the only place we’re seeing real innovation because that’s the only place people can really afford to. You can’t do it on a hundred million dollar title because you have to be dialled into what that audience really knows and wants.

“Someone’s going to be burning the next hundred million dollar properties here, and it might be the least likely guy that was on that stage at the Sony conference. But that’s where it’s going to come from, and the smart people know that. I don’t see any indication of that foresight up in Redmond. They do not seem to be listening to their audience.”

Staff Reboot?

Is this short-sightedness or does Microsoft believe that indies need them more than they need independently produced games?

With more platforms on the playing field like mobile devices and upcoming third-party consoles like the Ouya, game developers have more market for their products than ever. Companies like Oddworld Inhabitants will just continue on, without offering Xbox One versions of their games. 

This could mean the offerings for the Xbox One could wither down, making a smaller library another reason for players to switch consoles.

Lanning went on to say – 

“Whoever their PR people are, whoever their marketing agents are, they should fire them all. That’s where they should start. There should be a big, mass firing and they should publicise that. Then, they’d get people saying, ‘Hey, maybe there’s going to be a good change.’ “

But by then, any changes to attract more independents maybe too late. 

Despite this negative forecast, Xbox One console orders continue to outpace pre-sale orders for the Xbox 360.

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Capt. Eliza Creststeel
Amazon, Pirate and Gator 'Rassler who terrorizes the seas aboard her frigate The Crimson Widow in the original Pirates Online and now in The Legend of Pirates Onlines (www.TLOPO.com). Also an administrator of the Pirates Online Wiki (https://piratesonline.fandom.com/wiki/). Have swung a hammer in Guild Wars 2, slung a S.A.W. in Defiance and winged across the galaxy in Star Wars: The Old Republic.