In recent interviews with Edge and Eurogamer, the makers of Braid and Super Meat Boy expressed their frustration with developing for Xbox Live Arcade. As independent developers, taking on the heated business of console development on top of development costs is more stress than its worth, say the developers.
“The overhead cost of just developing for those consoles is insane,” explained Tommy Refenes from Team Meat. “It costs zero dollars to develop on Steam if you already have a computer. When you look at PlayStation and Xbox and Nintendo, you have to buy thousand dollar dev kits and pay for certification and pay for testing and pay for localisation – you have to do all these things and at the end of the day it’s like, ‘I could have developed for other platforms and it would’ve been easier.'”
On top of development costs, there are lawyers, fees and ambiguity to sort through that cause an equally overwhelming headache. Ed McMillen from Team Meat said that to bring his studio’s games to consoles, his team would need “some magical middleman who would just appear and do all of our business for us… We went in and found out what it was like to develop for a console and the reality is there’s no loyalty on either side and it’s a business. And when you step in to that business arena it goes from us making art and it turns into business.”
Braid maker Jonathan Blow chimed in that he, like the rest of us, doesn’t know any details on the next Xbox. “To me they talk about a console that is not strictly about games. It’s trying to be the center of the living room device, which is fine and maybe it’s the right thing for Microsoft to do, business-wise. I don’t know; I actually don’t think it is, but they’ve certainly thought about it more than me! As a place to put the best, highest performing version of our game on, it doesn’t seem as good a choice.”
These laments come hot on the heels of Brian Provinciano who publicly declaring on Twitter how difficult it was to get Retro City Rampage onto XBLA. Polytron’s Phil Fish has also gone on record in the past to say the costs for developing on XBLA are absurd.