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Thread: N+ developers rail against glut of bad XBLA games [Joystiq]

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    Post N+ developers rail against glut of bad XBLA games [Joystiq]

    Filed under: Retro, Microsoft Xbox 360, Online
    Here at Joystiq, we think Metanet's sadistic platformer N+ is one of the best original games we've seen on Xbox Live Arcade for a while. So maybe it's not too surprising that the game's developers feel the same way. What is surprising is their willingness to diss the entire download service in public.

    Talking to Gamasutra, N+ creators Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard railed against Xbox Live Arcade's bloated catalog of copycat games. "The real problem, I think, is that the same people who are deciding what retail games get greenlit are deciding what Live Arcade games get greenlit," Burns said. "Those decisions that are ruining Live Arcade... it's like, who greenlit Word Puzzle? Who greenlit that hoverboard game that's just shit?" It wasn't always like this, according to Burns. "When we started out ... there were 30 games on Live Arcade. If N was one of them, it would stand out. Now there's like a hundred games, and they're all shit. ... If I was a consumer, I could see not even looking at Live Arcade games anymore if I had downloaded 10 or 20 demos, because at a certain point, you're like, 'Whatever. Maybe there's a good game in here.'"

    The full interview contains more thoughts on the Xbox Live certification process, the effect of game demos on buzz, and the stupidity of charging for gamerpics and themes. A word of warning: Microsoft fanboys should take their heart medicine before clicking the read link.

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    I agree with pretty much everything they said in the interview. They almost come across in the charming, kidding-on-the-square way that Trey Parker and Matt Stone do in interviews.

    Xbox Live Arcade really has become oversaturated with fluff and bullshit, and I fear that MS cutting the royalty rates is only going to increase the shit ratio. They have games like Ikaruga - which has to have been finished for months now - ready to go and they release bullshit like Bliss Island, Rocketmen and Boogie Bunnies. They're also mostly right when they attack releases like Double Dragon. It really is true: no one really needs to play it again. I'd also agree with the idea that themes/gamerpics should be free or at the very least publishers should be given the option to offer them for free. I've bought maybe 3 themes and one pack of gamerpics in the year and a half I've had my 360 (I regret two of the themes and only bought the Fatal Fury picture pack for that Terry pic).

    I enjoyed the N+ demo but haven't bitten on the full game yet; it sounds like it's time to make that official.

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    yeah, xbla is full of shit, but its filled with great games too. everyone always wants less BS and more goodness, but the world doesnt work like that. if they are complaining about xbla, have they went into a gamestop lately?

    and yes, theme/pics should be free.

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    I guess it all depends on your point of view, I look at it this way, yes theres a decent variety but imho its a good thing. Are there gonna be some bad titles yep, but those dont last long. I purchased this week Castlevania SOTN, Galaga, Gauntlet, and TMNT. Next on my list are REZ, Puzzle Fighter HD, Triggerheart, and Pac-man CE.

    If they limite dit to 10 games and those 10 games are crap its not gonna make much of a difference. It jsut sounds liek there afraid there game will get overlooked. myself I have my 360 set to always downlaod the new demos that are available and give em all a try.
    You did what? With who? For how many cookies?
    Always looking for promotional materials and classic gaming commercials in print and video form
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    They're also mostly right when they attack releases like Double Dragon. It really is true: no one really needs to play it again.
    What about those who never got to play it when it first came out? An XBLA download would be cheaper and easier for them than buying the original arcade game or a MAME cabinet and more legal than downloading the ROM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by interview
    "The real problem, I think, is that the same people who are deciding what retail games get greenlit are deciding what Live Arcade games get greenlit," Burns said. "Those decisions that are ruining Live Arcade... it's like, who greenlit Word Puzzle? Who greenlit that hoverboard game that's just shit?"
    Lol, this I can agree with.

    It wasn't always like this, according to Burns. "When we started out ... there were 30 games on Live Arcade. If N was one of them, it would stand out. Now there's like a hundred games, and they're all shit. ...
    If N+ is so great, then why doesn't it stand out, no matter how many games are there? Me thinks we have another case of a big-headed developer whining that his game isn't selling bucketloads (shades of Jeff Minter!). I love how they think this will be any different on other consoles. I"m sure everyone who owns a Wii sees how Sin & Punishment stands out among all the other crap, and PSN owners know all the good releases when they see them!

    If I was a consumer, I could see not even looking at Live Arcade games anymore if I had downloaded 10 or 20 demos, because at a certain point, you're like, 'Whatever. Maybe there's a good game in here.'"
    They say in the interview that they don't understand why so many "bad" games are selling despite having demos. Maybe it's because not everyone shares their definition of what's "bad?"

    Quote Originally Posted by interview
    Then again, when you look at how many games are selling, like, who's buying Pinball FX? How many games have you bought on Xbox Live Arcade, seriously?
    See? This is bullshit right here. Pinball FX rocks. I bought both it and the new table, and I play it a lot.

    Quote Originally Posted by interview
    RB: It's like, how is Uno the best-selling game on there? That really... that doesn't make any sense. It really doesn't. Street Fighter II you can see, because everyone played it and it was popular. But Uno... I didn't realize the 360 was popular with that crowd.
    Again, Uno rocks. So the majority of XBLA users don't share their tastes, and they're complaining. Maybe their game will do better on another platform, I don't know. It sounds like a lot of whining to me though. And at them saying they own Alien Hominid on GC so they won't buy it. Isn't N+ a port of a free flash game?

    The Double Dragon quote was especially douchebaggy:

    Quote Originally Posted by interview
    RB: The retro games thing I also don't get, because Double Dragon is not a game you ever need to play again. It was great. It was so good. But who's buying that if there's a demo? So many games since then... it's like, '40s movies you can appreciate, but when you get into the early '20s and the teens, it stops being...
    OMG, old stuff sucks!

    Fuck them and their game. I DLed the demo, but I think I'll play the free flash version instead just to spite these idiots.

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    Pretty much agrre with melf's comments above. These N+ guys are coming across as idiots in this interview. Sorry, but I think they are full of it.

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    I don't get this continuing attack on Xbox Live Arcade by various developers. What do they want, the system Nintendo has where literally anyone can release a full retail game for either of their systems? That kind of lack of quality control has resulted in massive shelves of unsold games at major retailers and piles of crap games being gifted to unsuspecting gamers. I love Xbox Live Arcade and am smart enough to do a little research before I buy anything. Are people unaware that most of the major review sites also review Xbox Live games? I'm tired of the whining. There simply aren't that many games available on Xbox Live, certainly not when compared to how long the service has been running. What are there, maybe 70-80 total?

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    Quote Originally Posted by geneshifter View Post
    Pretty much agrre with melf's comments above. These N+ guys are coming across as idiots in this interview. Sorry, but I think they are full of it.
    ditto. its like that moron who made space giraffe and was whining no one bought it -- listen, if you make a shitty or mediocre game, few people will buy it! stop whining that no one is buying your game, it has all the same exposure and chances as every other game on xbla. if no one is buying it, its obviously a flaw with your game, not the equal-opportunity market system.

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    The way I took it (and I have a hard time taking it any other way) is that they're saying that so much bullshit and filler gets released on XBLA that people start to overlook things that they might otherwise enjoy. People aren't downloading demos for things they might be interested in because they just assume "Well, the last ten demos I've downloaded have been complete shit, why waste my time?" I know I've stopped downloading demos every week like I used to and mostly judge the game by word-of-mouth and what I can tell about it by looking at it.

    I realize that every developer who has anything negative to say about XBLA is going to find comparison with Jeff Minter, but Minter's game was obtuse, nonsensical and I found it to be a bit condescending and out of date (particularly the tired Engrish memes). The N+ guys have a quality product, Minter does not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poofta! View Post
    if you make a shitty or mediocre game, few people will buy it! stop whining that no one is buying your game, it has all the same exposure and chances as every other game on xbla. if no one is buying it, its obviously a flaw with your game
    That's not necessarily true. Sometimes a highly rated game just doesn't sell well. Zack & Wiki for the Wii comes to mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melf View Post
    Fuck them and their game. I DLed the demo, but I think I'll play the free flash version instead just to spite these idiots.
    Yea, fuck them! Go play the free version that they'd previously developed and get addicted to it...that'll show 'em! To save you the trouble, here's a link to the download page. You go show those assholes who the boss is!

    N was a hell of a lot of fun but I can completely see where they're coming from. There's so many copy cat games on the service that it's easy for something unique and original like N to get lost in the mix. Sure, people that have a clue will know about how great N was and might pick it up, but the average user (you know, the target demographic where all of the real money is) will just pass it over because they'll assume it's just another crummy knock off game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Half Japanese View Post
    They're also mostly right when they attack releases like Double Dragon. It really is true: no one really needs to play it again.
    And everyone's already played Super Mario Bros, so that shouldn't be available on the Wii Virtual Console, right? After all, who'd want to play that old shit again? Does no one else remember when XBLA was new, and more than half the games were actual ARCADE games?

    I'd also agree with the idea that themes/gamerpics should be free or at the very least publishers should be given the option to offer them for free.
    A lot of games DO give you free gamerpics. They don't even tell you, they just end up showing up in your list. Try changing your gamerpic some time and see what's in there, there's probably a bunch of stuff you didn't know about. I've got a bunch of shitty Amped 3 gamerpics in there that I sure as hell never paid for.

    I don't get what all the criticism is about really. How is XBLA any worse than regular brick-and-mortar store releases? Some of them are bad, some of them are good, and a lot of them are in the middle. Every major console has had to deal with the problem of shovelware, and digital distribution (surprise, surprise) is no exception. As for games like Word Puzzle, sure, we didn't download it, but it's there for a reason, and it's not because Microsoft expects to make crazy money from it. Do you think Nintendo expected Donkey Kong Jr Math to be a best-seller?

    Microsoft has sort of painted themselves into a corner with XBLA releases... everyone expects two games a week, and sometimes there just aren't enough quality games in the pipeline to make those two games great ones. And how can we complain? I certainly don't expect two A+ titles per week to hit the store shelves. People will complain more if they get nothing than if they get something that they don't intend to every play. Besides, if N+ is so great, and everything else on XBLA is shit, shouldn't that make N+ stand out even more?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Half Japanese View Post
    The way I took it (and I have a hard time taking it any other way) is that they're saying that so much bullshit and filler gets released on XBLA that people start to overlook things that they might otherwise enjoy. People aren't downloading demos for things they might be interested in because they just assume "Well, the last ten demos I've downloaded have been complete shit, why waste my time?" I know I've stopped downloading demos every week like I used to and mostly judge the game by word-of-mouth and what I can tell about it by looking at it.
    The problem is that they're totally contradicting themselves. First they whine and moan about how people aren't going to be interested in DLing anything because there's so much crap. Then they cry about how well Uno and Pinball FX are selling. If no one is downloading the games, then why are they selling so well? Perhaps it's because people don't all share the opinion of these two about what's a good game or not, especially if it's old. The sales on the Wii's VC prove that these two are full of shit.

    Quote Originally Posted by roushimsx View Post
    Yea, fuck them! Go play the free version that they'd previously developed and get addicted to it...that'll show 'em! To save you the trouble, here's a link to the download page. You go show those assholes who the boss is!
    Yeah! I'll do that! I'll play it for free and not give them my money! That will show them!

    N was a hell of a lot of fun but I can completely see where they're coming from. There's so many copy cat games on the service that it's easy for something unique and original like N to get lost in the mix. Sure, people that have a clue will know about how great N was and might pick it up, but the average user (you know, the target demographic where all of the real money is) will just pass it over because they'll assume it's just another crummy knock off game.
    This would happen no matter where the game is released. Do you think it would get more exposure sitting on a store shelf? How many awesome games rot in retail because they're overlooked by filler and shovelware? At least with the demo, people can try it for free and then decide to buy it. You can't do that at Gamestop or TRU.

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    Do members of the Microsoft cult usually yell at each other about money? I thought they were to steal it, give some to Gates, and share the rest.
    This member is requesting to be banned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ze_ro View Post
    And everyone's already played Super Mario Bros, so that shouldn't be available on the Wii Virtual Console, right? After all, who'd want to play that old shit again? Does no one else remember when XBLA was new, and more than half the games were actual ARCADE games?


    A lot of games DO give you free gamerpics. They don't even tell you, they just end up showing up in your list. Try changing your gamerpic some time and see what's in there, there's probably a bunch of stuff you didn't know about. I've got a bunch of shitty Amped 3 gamerpics in there that I sure as hell never paid for.
    The difference is that Super Mario Bros. has aged well and Double Dragon hasn't. Yes, they both once represented the pinnacle of their respective genres (and SMB arguably still might), but times change and things age differently. I am not, nor have I ever been "old shit sucks," so I'm definitely not coming at it from that angle.

    And as far as the free gamerpics go, they're generally one per game and that one isn't usually as appealing as the ones you're expected to pay for (obviously). What the developers are saying is that they can't choose to offer them for free if they so decide, that the freebies have to be paid for by marketing dollars, which sucks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geneshifter View Post
    Pretty much agrre with melf's comments above. These N+ guys are coming across as idiots in this interview. Sorry, but I think they are full of it.

    Seconded. This is Jeff Minter part II.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Half Japanese View Post
    The difference is that Super Mario Bros. has aged well and Double Dragon hasn't. Yes, they both once represented the pinnacle of their respective genres (and SMB arguably still might), but times change and things age differently.
    With Double Dragon aging really badly. The best proof of this is actually the GBA remake of Double Dragon, which makes the original completely obsolete.

    Secondly, it seems like anyone who would immediately discount their claims of market dilution are too young to remember the crash of '84. It's not such a stretch to say that it harms XBLA when in the past something similar hosed the entire industry.

    Third, if you want to see some evidence of what they're saying, all you have to do is look at the PC freeware scene. It's hard as hell to get a handle on what's worth playing, and it's hard for the exact same reasons. In fact, i'd say they have a pretty good idea about it since N comes from a scene that's utterly flooded with crap that most people have no chance of navigating. The difference here is that Microsoft actually has the option of being more selective.

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    The irony in all of this, IMHO, is that if Microsoft really limited the number and type of releases on XBLA to the extent these developers would like to see, there would be a very good chance their game would not even be released at all. Be careful what you ask for....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Half Japanese View Post
    The difference is that Super Mario Bros. has aged well and Double Dragon hasn't.
    Well, that's your opinion. I'm not a big fan of Double Dragon, but my brother certainly is. He still plays it in MAME all the time, and if he had a 360, I guarantee he'd buy the XBLA version.

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