There Is No Honor Here

Lately I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with the concept of honor in indie game development.  Perhaps the term “honor” seems a bit antiquated what with seppuku being out of fashion and honor killings being outright worst-thing-ever-and-not-in-a-funny-way, but I think honor–or the lack thereof–is precisely the concept that irks the heck out of hardworking indie game developers who are, you know, doing things the hard way.

There’s this spectrum in my head.  I tried to draw a nice looking graph, but as it turns out I’m no good with graphs, so I compensated by making it cute or something:

Dictionary.com did not agree with me, but I feel like a perfect antonym for opportunism is idealism.  Which is a perfect fit for this: idealistic game making is all about following some artistic vision of yours to completion.  And it’s painfully cliché to say this, but idealistic game making is about staying true to yourself, which is honorable, while compromising your dreams for quick cash is not.

The guy on the left is Archibald Wintersfield.  He sells children to sweatshops, acts as middleman for blood diamond sales, and just put Avatar Zombie Massage Online 2 into peer review.  He’s an opportunist.

The guy on the right is Kip Skyler.  He’s inventor who hopes that technology will solve everything, ever, and makes up for his small stature with ingenuity, even though his inventions typically lack mass appeal.  He’s an idealist.

Idealistic game development is when you say to yourself “jeez, I’d love to play a game like this.”  And then you make it.  Opportunistic game development is making games solely to make the most amount of money possible.  A more common phrase for opportunist game development is “cash grab.”

Since Xbox Live Indie Games has launched, there have been a few waves of cash grabs.  Before the first massage game launched, XBLIG (then XBLCG) seemed very innocent and promising!  It was a fresh platform with plenty of promise; developers were pouring their blood, sweat and tears into their awesome artistic visions.  Unfortunately, the first game to attract a lot of attention for financial success was a massage game.

So the opportunism commenced.  When Avatars support launched, the platform got hit by a rash of embarrassingly bad me-too Avatar games.  Word got out that zombie game sold well (cough) so now the embarrassingly bad me-too Avatar games actually got to look pretty good next to the obscenely more embarrassingly bad zombie games that were hitting the service, while a smattering of uninteresting games with stock photos of hot girls (it’s like headsethotties on your Xbox360!) and uninteresting apps turned up.

No open[ish] platform is safe.  The iPhone app store is always inundated with this stuff; the latest trend I’ve been seeing are those locate-a-phone-number “prank” apps.  Facebook is so strangled with Mafia Pirate Who Cares Wars apps created by a developer that epitomizes opportunism that I may be tempted to forcibly confiscate the throat of the next person who invites me to grow radishes with them.

Why do so many idealistic games fail?

Idealistic games have far more complex visions than opportunistic games.  Usually the visions are too complex, so fledgling developers give up or turn to the dark side of dishonorable game development.  In XBLIG playtest it’s very common to see ambitious, idealistic games where some aspect of the execution is just not there.

Another common trap of idealistic game development is for developers to lose track of the gamer experience.  The more deeply you get mired in obsessing over in clean, scalable program organization (which is a good thing) or optimizing performance (also a good thing) the farther you get from focusing on the big-picture gamer experience.  Bugs aside, what’s under the hood doesn’t matter a bit next to what the gamer gets to play.

Why do so many opportunistic games succeed?

Opportunistic games are opportunistic because they are easy to make.  The whole concept of the cash grab is that a relatively untalented person with relatively little effort can grab all of the cash.  There is no honor there!

A little fact I haven’t put much emphasis on (partly because I mostly don’t know if this is always true or have any data other than a bit of chatter to support this) is that the me-too cash grabs stop working once the market gets saturated, which, in a world of dishonorable devs, is pretty rapid.  So, if you make yet another opportunistic abomination hoping for a piece of the cash grab (like these guys) you’ll more likely than not find yourself in a state of abject dishonor (the vernacular is “sold out”) with nothing to show for it.

What if I’m a shameless opportunist at heart?  I stay true to myself while making opportunistic games!

Then you probably have no soul and are just a bag of meat and neurons (I have a theory about this, teleportation, and the end of the world).  Convince me you’re normal all you want, but I know you’re just going to turn into the bad guy from Event Horizon.

Z0MB1ES is a Crimsonland ripoff, and Dishwasher rips off SOMETHING I’m sure, aren’t you a dishonorable opportunist as well?

That can be argued, but those games were hard to make, I made them from one of those crazy idealistic visions I’ve been ranting so often about, and if they were truly shameless, opportunistic ripoffs, gamers would eschew them in favor of the originals.

How do I make sure my idealistic, creative, and honorable game doesn’t fail?

The most common pitfall that I see ambitious, idealistic games fall into is scope trumping execution.  It’s fairly easy (trust me, I’ve had my fair share of personal experiences with this) for a developer to get married to the epic vision that’s impossible to fully realize, where a scaled down (tightened!) game concept would let that dev put way more effort into fine tuning and perfecting the gameplay.  Tighten up the vision and spend some time on perfecting the overall experience; if the result causes gamers to get excited about your vision, the satisfaction you’ll receive will be just… yeah.  Amazazing.

There’s honor out there.  It’s not easily achieved, but if you stick to the path, the rewards are awesome.

</pretentiousgururant>

September 17, 2010 posted by James

Filed under: Uncategorized

55 Comments Comment away!

  • 1. cubed2d  |  September 17, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    this +1.

  • 2. Da Voodoochief  |  September 17, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    I agree completey with the ‘No Honor’ concept. I am not sure my ego could take the cash grab. My pocket however would love it at this point in time. However i cannot do it, business reasons or not.

    I do not understand either why someone would try to claim honor when obviously doing something dishonorable (one of your links above). surely you wold just put this out under a different account and pretend to be someone else in the forums for it.

    Either way, i love developers when they have a vision and try to realize it, even when most fail along the path to fulfillment.

    Da Voodoochief

  • 3. Shelldragon  |  September 17, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    It is infinitely better to try hard and fail at genius than to succeed at mediocrity.

  • 4. 12b6  |  September 17, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    I agree with the article.

    I’ll add 2 things..

    1. The ones making the cash grab, the opportunists, hilariously often think they’re being clever, like they’ve divined the secrets of the market data, and have developed a product custom tailored to the market’s taste. But in reality, most of these “sales memes” take no brains at all to see or figure out. OMG DUDEZ LOOK MASAG GAME SALES WELL AND ZOMB13S SALES WELL SO.. SO… OMG ZOMB1E MASSAGE GAME WILL SELL MILLIONZ!!!

    2. It’s not enough to make a good game for those “idealists” to sell their game well. They still have to do -something- to get the word out about it. They could rely on luck and word of mouth, but it often takes more than that. The fact is, nobody knows who you are or what your game is, so you often have to tell others first.

  • 5. Shelldragon  |  September 17, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    P.S. your graph is the best graph that ever graphed.

  • 6. Xalterax  |  September 17, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    This sums up the feelings of pretty much all the ‘serious’ indie devs. Great read, great rant, great illustration. I hope to see it change but until we can fail for quality or content, that’s not going to happen.

    Somehow I don’t think that will happen anyways. Lately a lot of really good games have come down the pipe though, and there’s more on the way if you check play test.

    For now I’ll continue to dream of when the channel has so many good games that there will be no room left for the trash, and the opportunists will be snuffed out by the finally realized innovators.

    Then again, maybe that will never come to pass. However it is already starting to come true on the top rated list, so maybe.

  • 7. TheGSK  |  September 18, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Hell i still play through dishwasher every 4 months. The game is its own animal. My only tiny complaint was it needed more and varied music during fights instead the same track every encounter. But great none the less.

  • 8. JForce  |  September 18, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    Hey, since you linked to us as an example, I just want to say that we’re definitely not compromising our dreams. We’re actually increasing the chances of making our dreams a reality. Do you think we should go back to waiting tables instead to pay our bills and fund our future games?

    Also, my dream is not only to see all these game ideas I have come to life, but also to run a successful, profitable company. I must have both. It’s like asking me which is more important in a girl, looks or personality? The answer is both are equally important. My woman must have both, just like my company must be financially successful and also able to make our dream games a reality.

    Anyway, I don’t care if people think we’re dishonorable (and there’s nothing dishonorable with making a quick product that consumers want and making a living out of it). All I care about is making Unstoppable and our future games the best they can be. And this massage game will help us do that (because it’s the best massage game so far, it definitely should be made).

    See ya at PAX next year,
    -Jeremy

  • 9. Pfhoenix  |  September 18, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    It is quite fallacious (no relation to sexual innuendo for the ignorant) to say that there is “dishonor” in “selling out”. To further go on and say “well sure, my game is based on someone else’s work in some fashion, but that’s ok BECAUSE IT WAS HARD TO DO”?

    Poppycock, sir.

    So the problem is that it wasn’t hard enough to make the game for your taste? That’s awfully elitist, considering how hard something is changes from developer to developer (let’s not speak of how quickly you churned out IMAGWZIT). It is too simple to be a “real game”? IMAGWZIT is another fine example of hypocrisy there. No, I say that the real problem is people wanting to think that whatever idealistic nonsense about “purity” in games they may have gets infused into whatever they are involved with, and in the case of XBLIG, THE CUSTOMER BASE DOESN’T CARE.

    Nobody knew what to expect with XBLIG when it started. There were insanely high hopes (incredibly unrealistic ones), and the inevitable “fall” didn’t happen because of massage apps and their ilk, but because the customer base assumed XBLIG fit the role of cheap app/game portal. Some people get lucky, given the limitations in simply finding stuff to play, to have their “game” make actually decent money. The simple fact is that the accomplished developer isn’t targetting XBLIG in the first place, which leaves just those starting out (either in experience or opportunity). This results directly in what we have today – large outpouring of largely crap “titles” on the service.

    This isn’t to say that I’m a fan of massage apps, for example. My disliking of them isn’t based on some arbitrary evaluation of “being a real boy”, though. They’re unimaginative and plain not fun. They aren’t games; they’re apps wrapped up in the semblence of fun. There is only one objective standard by which games can be judged – does the market like it. Does it make money. Like it or not, games either make a profit OR THEY DON’T GET MADE AGAIN.

    The consumers define success, and injecting your sense of elitism as a developer into the process is like putting food coloring in water you intend to drink anyways. As someone who has succeeded where many try and fail, James, I would think that you would understand this better than others.

  • 10. Mitch  |  September 19, 2010 at 4:35 AM

    Totally with Pfhoenix on this one. There is too much elitism going on in the world of XBLIG development and all you elitist idiots know exactly who you are – constantly victimising people such as JForce, who are just providing what the customer wants. At the end of the day, it is about what the CUSTOMER wants, NOT the developer.

    This post is a prime example of the elitism that exists and the constant blaming of massage apps for the elitist developers own short comings. If anything pulls XBLIG down, it is the constant bullying of the elitist few and the customer can see this in plain view and no doubt in their minds they think they are dealing with a bunch of kids and though I know a number of the elitist crowd is aged 30+, I have to say, you do all act like a bunch of whiny little kids.

    This is a consumer driven market, so let the consumer decide and rather put your help into supporting people (by this I don’t mean only your elitist mates – I do mean EVERYONE) rather than constantly bullying and victimising people who disagree with you and your opinion or don’t belong in your little “we are perfect” world. Massage apps do NOT bring down the overall quality of others games as much as you think – if those games are good enough they will shine through.

  • 11. Matthew Doucette  |  September 19, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    Nice defense on your games: “…if they were truly shameless, opportunistic ripoffs, gamers would eschew them in favor of the originals.”

    I’ve played Crimsonland and “i made a game with zombies in it” and if you cannot tell the difference you are probably someone who things the game succeeded just because it had zombies in it, and have missed the point (and differences) of the game.

    To see the difference, load up either in front of a crowd of people… and compare.

  • 12. Matthew Doucette  |  September 19, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    *thinks.

  • 13. Matthew Doucette  |  September 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    And thank you for “Why do so many idealistic games fail?”… I believe the strongest thing Duailty ZF (my game) has is connection to the gamer experience, but I also see a bit (and by a bit i mean a lot) of http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/07/the-nonoptimized-life.html in our development which is something we as a game studio must overcome.

  • 14. Adam Michaud  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    @Mitch
    I can’t find a foothold to poke holes through your argument, so I’m going to start somewhere at (pseudo-)random and go from there.

    “There is too much elitism going on in the world of XBLIG development and all you elitist idiots know exactly who you are – constantly victimising people such as JForce, who are just providing what the customer wants. At the end of the day, it is about what the CUSTOMER wants, NOT the developer.”

    Let’s start with that “just providing” bit. If a game developer “just provides” what a customer wants, you end up with the (admittedly awesome) ClickQuest or SMBC’s MMO. A giant button (or space) that encourages you to click for points. Diablo, distilled to its very core. Click, click, click to get points, points, points, and move forward. That is “just providing” the customer with the experience the want – numbers going up. If someone were to make an XBLIG of it, it’d do well in the “hey, I have eighty points to spend, may as well buy this ha-ha funny game that I will play for a few minutes then get bored of and never recommend to my friend” demographic. “Just providing” the customer with an experience they want nets you money but does little in the way of “game” or “development”. I would not pay for ClickQuest in any form – the bare essentials of game are funny, not necessarily fun.

    “it is about what the CUSTOMER wants, NOT the developer.” Not true. The developer’s job is to generate an experience that the customer wants to play, and keep playing. Z0MB1ES does this by having fun gameplay, nicely-themed backgrounds and an awesome soundtrack, as well as an enjoyable multiplayer experience. There is nothing elitist about wanting your game to be good, nor is there anything elitist about wanting to make something that is different, in some noticeable way, from the competition. Making a game that someone else has already done, to quickly cash in, is not “development”, and it can only really be seen as sleazy, underhanded, and borderline criminal.

    Furthermore, I call to question your use of the word CUSTOMER. If you look at the people who play/buy your games strictly as CUSTOMERs, you look at them as cashbags, waiting to give you money because you just shat out a sequel to an already bad game, or because you copied someone else and put a flashier name on it so that it appears higher in the name list than Extreme Awesome Game For Gamers Who Like Extreme Awesome Games. That labels you not as a DEVELOPER but as a DOUCHEBAG.

    “This post is a prime example of the elitism that exists and the constant blaming of massage apps for the elitist developers own short comings.”

    This post is actually a prime example of what is wrong with the world of game development as a whole, focussing on his experiences writing XBLIG games and referencing such beasts as Zynga who are notorious for doing bad things to the gaming world. Making a massage game is not a bad thing. Making a massage game to capitalize from the existant trend of people buying massage games is a bad thing. Making a bad massage game to capitalize from the existant trend of people buying massage games is a VERY bad thing. Never once is it said that massage games are bad. Massage games are not bad.

    “If anything pulls XBLIG down, it is the constant bullying of the elitist few and the customer can see this in plain view and no doubt in their minds they think they are dealing with a bunch of kids and though I know a number of the elitist crowd is aged 30+, I have to say, you do all act like a bunch of whiny little kids.”

    It really is annoying that the “elitist” few get bullied, I agree. However, going by what you were trying to say (instead of what you said), you really need a better definition of “elitist”, because the message you are sending reads, “people who aren’t jumping on the cashgrab bandwagon really need to stop telling the people who are jumping on the cashgrab bandwagon to stop jumping on the cashgrab bandwagon so that the rest of us can maybe make some money from our games and you can learn that game development is fun and interesting and exciting and a lot more involved than jumping on bandwagons and grabbing cash.” What really needs to happen here is that the consumers need to stop buying into the people who are jumping on the cashgrab bandwagon, use the “Download game demo” button more frequently, and make their decisions that way instead of shelling out 80/160 MS points for each new title. Supporting game developers is awesome IF they deserve your support.

    “This is a consumer driven market, so let the consumer decide and rather put your help into supporting people (by this I don’t mean only your elitist mates – I do mean EVERYONE) rather than constantly bullying and victimising people who disagree with you and your opinion or don’t belong in your little “we are perfect” world.”

    It’s actually a developer-driven market. Without developers, there could be no consumers. Without consumers, developers can continue to develop for their own amusement games that they think will be awesome. The reason that there are so many bad massage games is not because it is a consumer-driven market but because developers say, “Ooh, this massage game has a million downloads. I need to try that.” instead of creating their own game and marketing it. Games like Chime, Z0MB1ES, Breath of Death VII and their ilk are good games because they do their own thing (and do it well), and because they aren’t clones of other games that came earlier.

    In short, the “elites” “victimize” the “clones” because the “clones” aren’t doing anything to advance game development. They are making money off of other peoples’ work and proving that they have enough innovation to metaphorically press Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V.

  • 15. Spaceman  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    I like how this JForce dude keeps talking about how he’s just shamelessly doing it to fund an “actual” game. I’ve got 10 to 1 odds that game will suck worse than his cheap massage cash-ins.

    P.S. there is a difference between elitism and talent. James Silva=talent.

  • 16. BigDaddio  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    If jForce would have just put the stupid vibrator up without the ridiculous “contest” it would have passed and been on the service and fallen of the top lists by now. jForce made their own little shitstorm by being big mouthed itdiots, treating XBLIG like its 4chan, and general troll behavior.

    If the best they can come up with to “finance” what they really want to do is a massager, then they obviously do not have much else. This reflects pretty poorly on jForce’s creativity and ability to finish anything. Bigger and probably better games than “unstoppable” have been made in less time.

    I think we should do like Apple did “No more crap”, Apple said flat out, no more fart apps, no more shit that looks like a high school project you did over the weekend. We added no video’s only to the list we can add massager and fart apps.

  • 17. JForce  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    It really doesn’t matter if we’re making it to fund an “actual” game or not. If we decided to only make “cheap cash-ins” for the rest of our careers, there still wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. It’s called a job.

    How do YOU make money? Everybody needs to make money somehow, as long as you earn that money without doing anything illegal, you shouldn’t be met with this ridiculous criticism.

    -Jeremy

  • 18. JForce  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    @Big Daddio: everything you say is just so ignorant and easily refutable. From this point on, we’re not going to waste any more time responding to you, ever.

    -Jeremy

  • 19. DragonDivide  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    I’ve already made my perspectives clear previously, but for the sake of this entire argument, let me iterate them again.

    1. The shameless cash grabs and non-apps need to stop. It is making a mockery of the channel and damaging attempts to bring legitimacy to the service. This is quite clear when you mention the Indie Games Channel on any public forum familiar with it.

    2. When damaging the legitimacy of the platform you are making it very difficult for developers that have aspirations to expand beyond it. When I mention this channel to publishers I get a chuckle from them and enter into a conversation on the overall quality of the software. There is an immediate stigma associated with it.

    3. You damage your main supporters, indie game news sites. The lack of compelling content on the channel forces away visitors and causes these sites to branch away from the XBLIG channel into other mediums in order to gain enough traffic to justify continuing their channel.

    4. It is very difficult to get mainstream coverage of games on this channel because of what is going on. You do not want to know the lengths I have gone through in order for mainstream press to even take a look at my game. I am trying to bring a larger audience into the channel and you trample my efforts with your lack of caring.

    5. When you cite that this is “what the customers want”, what you really mean is “this is what some of the customers that are left visiting this channel are purchasing”. A big way to bring in more customers so that larger game titles have a chance is through media coverage which you are destroying as per point #4.

    I want to see the channel return to the promise that it had in the beginning. Remember when IGN was running XBLIG reviews? It can happen again and in the process help not only bring traffic to the channel but also help all the supporters of the channel and the developers striving to create the next great game we’re all looking for.

  • 20. JForce  |  September 19, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    @DragonDivide

    Blame the consumers for buying those games, not the developers for trying to have an enjoyable job.

    And if you’re having trouble getting press, then that’s _your_ problem. There’s either something wrong with your game, or something wrong with your marketing. You’re scapegoating, man.

    -Jeremy

  • 21. DragonDivide  |  September 19, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    @JForce

    Getting press is not the problem, but the type of press neworks that I would like to get, is. One look at distribution channel being cited on press releases is enough to be skipped over.

    I think you really need to heed my warnings if you expect to get back your investment on Unstoppable. I’m giving you free insights here on what I have experienced and you can either disregard them outright or utilize them to help you.

    Your choice.

  • 22. DragonDivide  |  September 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    @JForce

    As far as the customers are concerned, what came first, the customers or the types of applications which defined what kind of customer base would approach the channel in the first place?

    I dont think I heard an outpouring of customer demands for massage applications when the channel was created.

  • 23. JForce  |  September 19, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    “distribution channel being cited on press releases”

    Well there’s one problem with your marketing. Just say “coming to Xbox 360″, that’s what I’ve always planned to do (and citing a PC version should help a lot too, or do some sites ‘boycott’ PC games as well? :P). But regardless, I don’t think this is really a big deal. I don’t believe any significant journalist would watch a cool trailer and be like, “wow this game looks great, I’m definitely gonna write about this! ….oh, wait a second, it’s coming to XBLIG, nevermind.” I would never believe that scenario until I actually hear a journalist explicitly point to XBLIG as the sole reason they didn’t cover a game. And if they actually did say that, then that’s why you should just write “Xbox 360″ just in case (especially since you’re trying to get on XBLA, right?)

    Also, your whole argument really breaks down when you look at how much press other XBLI games have gotten (ZOMB1ES & BODVII are a couple good examples, Unstoppable will also be a good example).

    And the customers don’t always know what they want, and certainly there’s not always clear evidence of what they want. It’s up to the devs to have the foresight to give them something they _will_ want. Just like buying a birthday gift for somebody. Maybe you do some research, ask them questions, then you make an informed guess at what they’ll like, and hope for the best.

    -Jeremy

  • 24. QuimbyRBG  |  September 19, 2010 at 7:39 PM

    @ JFarce “It’s like asking me which is more important in a girl, looks or personality? The answer is both are equally important. My woman must have both”
    I know it’s from right at the start of the convo, but I just can’t stop laughing…
    You’re all lucky that none of you are dating… Women have a keen ability to read between the lines and will ruin your day over comments like that.
    Me, I’d prefer personality (More importantly intelligence) in my wenchs (:D) as I don’t suffer fools/bimbos well – I just lucked out and got all 3 attributes in my other half.

    As for the massage thing being honorable because you intend to fund a bigger more honorable project with the cash, I say phooey.
    BigDaddio was 100% on the money when he said that the fact that you made a massage app only speaks to your lack of imagination- there are a million other things that you could have released that would have required similar amounts of effort.
    You literally just went Zombies + Avatars + Massager = Cash!
    I for one have my money on Unstoppable being all kinds of suck, but I’ll be glad to let you all prove me wrong on that – It’s going to be pretty difficult with that lame-arse EgoRaptor stuff though… As it stands I’m basically imagining it to be IMAGWZII with stupid annoying clips about fart jokes and over the top gore in between the levels – oh joy.
    Now where’s my coffee arsehole!?

  • 25. Xalterax  |  September 19, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    I think people are missing the point of what this blog entry is even about. He is simply stating there is no honor in making shameless cash grabs.

    hon·or   
    [on-er] Show IPA
    –noun
    1.
    honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions: a man of honor.
    2.
    a source of credit or distinction: to be an honor to one’s family.
    3.
    high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank: to be held in honor.

    The fact JForce immediately made a big post more or less explaining to the community that they knew what they were doing pretty much tells me that yes, the diagnosis is correct in saying there was no honor in it. Its safe to say that there will be honor in Unstoppable.

    Before you go mouthing off to James about why your justified in selling a goofy massage app to fund your primary project, stop to consider what he did to keep himself afloat making the dishwasher. Granted, I don’t know, but I assume he had to pay rent, utilities, and buy food…there was some sort of a job before me ‘made it’. IMAGWZII came well after dishwasher, his first real success. To me, he didn’t sell out and held up a regard of honor for himself, working a job and doing the game part time, as most of us start ups do.

    That said, attacking JForce about it doesn’t change anything – take a look at all the different business models in the real world for a second. There’s far worse in the real world than what JForce is doing, but them all the other devs making sales apps aren’t going to stop unless a major tide turn occurs, and real games start snuffing them out in sales.

    I am doing this part time working on my big-break project, hopefully. I’m sure the dismal reality will come back to bite me later, but its the type of game I want to make. I continue with my day job, and probably will unless this thing sells crazy good. The reality is most of us can’t expect to break free as James has without either having a ton of titles out there, or a bit of luck, or both.

    Also – don’t try to compare the (I believe it was stated) 6 week project of IMAGWZII to your 6 day massage app. The sales speak for themselves.

  • 26. DrHappiness  |  September 19, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    I’m seeing a huge divide here, and it seems largely centered around the idea of games as a business product vs games as an artistic creation… hell, there’s even a sliding scale there, too.

    People, stop trying to make these sweeping statements that games must be one thing or the other. If something is an artistic dream, then profits are irrelevant. It’s about the creation and the expression, and frankly the developer of something like that shouldn’t care whether or not it sells a ton, because that was never the goal (though level of exposure is certainly a legitimate concern in the oversaturated market of XBLIG). For that matter, pure artistry even can be a problem in games if your vision happens to be not fun for others to play.

    On the other hand, people do need money to live and to continue to develop games. I’m not trying to justify the actions of a company like Zynga, where everything they do is a shameless cash grab, but there are other studios like JForce that do need the money from a cash grab (or at least CLAIM to, I don’t know their financial situation) to support their other development. It’s true that it might not be the ideal method, but idealism is a sliding scale, and as romantic a notion as pure idealism is, there’s times when reality gets in the way (though again, JForce might be bullshitting, we don’t know).

    That said, I think the problem lies with the groups that 12b6 mentioned in the fourth post: Those that think that they’re being clever by trying to opportunistically cash in, rather than just being lazy, and the studios that treat cash-grabs as an end rather than a means to an end. If someone’s only goal is to make as much money as possible though whatever means, then we can congratulate them on having become a soulless corporation with no original thought or artistic vision (or honor, to tie in James’s post). Unfortunately, though, if they’re okay with having no soul and whatnot, then everyone else is going to just have to adapt, because it’s not a problem that’s going to be going away.

    The best way to deal with it is going to come from Microsoft, anyway: Splitting indie development into a category for apps and a category for actual games.

  • 27. Scott (NaviFairy)  |  September 19, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    Awesome post James! This is really required reading for any up and coming game developer, and hopefully they’ll stay true to their conviction to make some amazing games.

    On another note, at first when I was reading this article I thought it said optimists instead of opportunists, which had me very confused for about a paragraph.

  • 28. BigDaddio  |  September 20, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    What many of the posters here do not understand about the real world is that a store is not obligated to sell your product. As a matter of fact since what I do for a living is being called on I can tell you that most retailers not only tell you what they will sell, they tell what price your product will have to hit in order to get on their shelves.

    As the XBLIG community I think it is up to us to make some standards, to say no more vibrators. If people think their honor less product is so necessary to be published, take it to Steam, or the App store, one of the game portals, or sell it over the internet yourself with all your marketing prowess.

  • 29. Roy  |  September 20, 2010 at 5:11 AM

    I don’t see why everyone is hating massagers/bad apps so much. If there where better/more enjoyable applications on XBLIG, they would sell better? Wouldn’t they? If not, why won’t then? I think that is one of the most important questions ‘we’ as XBLIG devs should ask ourselves.

    Why do massage games keep outselling ‘our precious’? Maybe our games suck, maybe there is a lack of appeal in our boxart, maybe the trial sux, maybe the name wasnt as catchy. Please people, focus on that to improve the channel. I say again, if consumers browsing the channel saw more appeal in your game than in a massager, they would buy your game. So there is something that we are doing wrong. (Because I guess/hope that your game is actually more fun :) ).

    About the entire honor whining? As long as a game isn’t stolen or blatantly copied it’s fair business I think. Honor is a bit strange concept in work/business, just keep true to yourself, and as Pfhoenix mentioned, people please get rid of your elitism, _that_ won’t help anything…

    (Also about the entire JFore bash thing, I know he’s a jerk, but actually he made more sensful posts here then some of the other people here that I know and respect, don’t get dragged down, and don’t give so much attention to ‘just another developer that made a massager’ if we did that as a group maybe IGN,. consumers, etc.. wouldn’t only hear about massagers).

  • 30. Roy  |  September 20, 2010 at 5:21 AM

    (addendum)

    Also I really don’t understand people who wish to add more censorship to XBLIG, because blocking certain apps is just that…

  • 31. Gorion  |  September 20, 2010 at 5:23 AM

    tl;dr

    But i actually feel sorry for jamez, as his idea is, were indie games are these new original games you always wanted to make when you were a kid. This is however not the real world, but still i like jamez more because he does basically that, create the games he loves the most and gets paid for it. But thats only 1% of the indie game devs :( And if you want to keep being “indie” you need money, so you get cash grabs, not much you can do about it as a dev..

  • 32. rufio  |  September 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    selling out isn’t possible: http://stereogum.com/7208/of_montreal_art_brut_do_tmobile/franchises/commercial-appeal/

  • 33. JForce  |  September 20, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    “BigDaddio was 100% on the money when he said that the fact that you made a massage app only speaks to your lack of imagination- there are a million other things that you could have released that would have required similar amounts of effort.”

    What?? No he was 0% on the money. So wait, you really think you have tons of ideas that would be surefire top sellers that you could make in a week? Really? Why don’t you make some of them then? Oh, that’s right, because that would be “dishonorable.” But hey if you actually do have a ton of 1 week, surefire topsellers (which you don’t) then I will bow down to your amazing imagination.

    Secondly, you incorrectly assume that we don’t have any other quick “cash-grab” ideas, that just because we made this massage app, you assume it’s the only thing we could come up with. Which is completely false. We have at least 2 other ideas that could be made in a week or 2 that would also be top sellers. And we plan to make them too, just at the right time. And hey they’re actually games I’d like to play, so that’ll make them “honorable” right? *rolls eyes*

    “You literally just went Zombies + Avatars + Massager = Cash!”

    No we didn’t, it was more like: massager + online play + avatars + simpler interface + music + $1 price = cash. We just added zombies to get more attention, but we’re not even keeping them in the game so it doesn’t matter. And hey, just put yourself in the shoes of the people who bought Remote Masseuse. Why wouldn’t they want to pay a buck to get basically the same game but with avatars?

    Anyway, guys, look, this whole thing about dishonor and respect, it all just doesn’t make sense, ok. It’s just way too subjective. You guys are inflicting your own personal values and self-imposed standards upon us, values that you’ve just made up, for whatever reason. You’ve just decided that it’s honorable to make games you want to play, and not honorable to make games for money. What gives you the right to make up this standard and then criticize other devs for not living up to it?

    And why don’t you impose this standard upon other industries? Why is it not “dishonorable” to wait tables just for money? Or to work at a big game company as a tester or a low-level programmer just for money? So it’s ok for millions of people to work some boring 9-5 job, but if one of them tries to make a living with quick “cash-grab” indie games (a much more enjoyable, work-from-home job), they’re now dishonorable??? Just in your little world, at least.

    And what if they’re just making these games for money so they can provide for their family? Or so they can afford to buy video games or go out to eat? What if they don’t care so much about their job and they’re just looking for an enjoyable way to make a living? Most people don’t define themselves by their career, they just see it as a way to get by. But people don’t want to be miserable at their job. They want to be happy. And some of you think they should instead choose to be miserable at their mundane job, just because you have this romanticized, idealistic view of how the world of indie games should be, and you don’t want any other devs trampling over that. Really, that actually is sort of elitist.

    And what if the dev actually wants to play these cash-grab games he’s making? According to the standard you guys have made up, he’d be ok. And would that really be that far-fetched? I mean the majority of consumers like these kinda games, so it’s not unbelievable that the developer could also like these kinda games, right?

    Another problem with your definition is this scenario:
    Dev A makes a game he wants to play, it goes on to sell horribly and has a low rating. Oh but it’s ok, because it’s a game he wanted to play, so he’s happy.

    Dev B makes a game that others would want to play, it goes on to sell much better and has a higher rating. He’s made so many more people happy than dev A has, plus he can continue to do this enjoyable job, full-time.

    Really, which dev did the greater good here? And you say dev B is “greedy” because he did it just for the money, but dev A made a game that *he* wanted to play. I could say he’s being selfish as well.

    But so where do you draw the line at what is or isn’t a cash-grab? There’s really no way to define that. There’s just too many problems here. This is all just way too vague and opinionated, and not based on any sort of fact or consistent logic.

    And everybody has reasons for why they need money, but they really shouldn’t matter, that’s not actually any of your business. It’s also not right for you to say that someone is making a living dishonorably when their job is completely legal and legit, and when looking at it objectively, there’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with it.

    The proof is in the pudding,
    -Jeremy

  • 34. Scratch  |  September 20, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    Interesting and great post. If you take the base idea and apply it to other aspects of life and business it really holds up well.

    As far as James goes, he’s been at this for awhile so it’s not like he just woke up one day threw a game together real quick and became a superstar. Those who work at it will be around to talk about it.

    Personally, I give kudos to anyone making games of any type because we all have a right to do what makes us happy in life. However, it’s the honorable ones that I look up to.

  • 35. TheGSK  |  September 22, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    Seriously Ska Studios is at the top of my list with Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder. Way to go on getting the band on Arcade status James. Bottom line is to compete with the big boys aka Mommys Best Games, Arkedo, Zeboyd. You better have a damn good game. Time will tell if J-Force is full of shit or not. Theres pride and then theres arrogance.

  • 36. CustomerGuy  |  September 22, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Hi devs. I’m just a simple consumer that fell in love with The Dishwasher & IMAGWZII & have followed this site for awhile, but its cool to see a bunch of developers here now as it gives me the opportunity to thank you all for your creations & the effort that a lot of you put in to produce quality games.

    Being more of a core gamer, I have the view that even though the video game industry may be thriving financially as of late, the idea of what gaming once was is on the decline. Perhaps this is parallel to society in general. The masses buy anything with gimmicky bells & whistles covered in shiny wrapping, but behind that wrapping is something that lacks depth & quality, a trend becoming more prevalent every year within the industry.

    From a casual point of view, apps like this massage gimmick going on are great… for the first day. They have very little lasting appeal & certainly won’t be remembered once the new trend comes around. People like JForce aren’t true game developers, they’re suits with programming abilities, not artists but businessmen.

    With that said, I’ll give a big SCREW YOU to recyclers (I hold the term dev for those that “develop” something creative) that are destroying something I love.

    But I thank all of you that make my hobby worth while.

  • 37. gamerdude  |  September 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Great post James. You’re a true inspiration for the aspiring indie game developer!

    And thank you JForce for providing such comedy gold in the comments. I’d feel a tiny bit more compassion for Jfarce if they hadn’t already made tens of thousands from that avatar Kirby minigame thing. If they can’t manage their money well enough to make a game with that amount of funding,I have serious doubts for this epic project they keep alluding to. Maybe they should learn basic money management skills before making all these claims of running a business. LOL!

  • 38. JForce  |  September 24, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    http://ve3d.ign.com/articles/news/45771/Braid-Cost-200-000-To-Develop

  • 39. gamerdude  |  September 24, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Seriously? Did you even read that article? :O Second sentence:

    “Blow admits, however, that an excellent indie tile such as his could easily be made for far less if lifestyle compromises are made”

    Apparently you already have an artist on the team so that shouldn’t even be an issue…

  • 40. JForce  |  September 24, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    We have two artists for Unstoppable. We’re paying Jordan by the hour, every month. We’re paying Egoraptor fat lumps of money upfront, after reaching milestones. We’ll actually end up paying +25k for art/cutscenes alone. Then we have music and marketing expenses. Then we have all our bills and living expenses to pay. Fortunately I did make a lifestyle compromise like Blow said, by moving back in to my parents house, so that’ll help.

    Also, even if we did have plenty of money, there’s no telling what our financial situation will be in the future. So if we have an easy opportunity now to make some cash, we’re gonna take it as we might not have that chance in the future.

  • 41. CustomerGuy  |  September 26, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    Out of interest, did Jonathon Blow recycle other peoples creative work & capitalize on trends instead of his own creativity to make that 200k?

  • 42. JForce  |  September 26, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    I don’t know how he earned that money. I think I heard that he borrowed it or something. But it doesn’t matter, all I know is that the path we’ve chosen to take is the best path for us, everything considered. We ultimately just want to be happy, just like Silva and every other dev ultimately just want to be happy. That’s really what it all boils down to.

    And almost every game recycles ideas and capitalizes on trends to some degree. So does almost every product/service in the world. There’s nothing new under the sun. This is why we have nice things, companies take something popular and improve upon it. Everybody wins. Stop implying that we’re doing something wrong or unethical.

    I could do this all day guys….

  • 43. gamerdude  |  September 27, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    And there you have it folks: why progress on Unstoppable aspires to one day move as quickly as, say, a depressed snail. The developers apparently have nothing better to do then start flamewars in blog comments as they try to defend their morally bankrupt actions.

    We’re not implying that you’re doing something wrong or unethical, we’re outright telling you that you are. Reading through your forum posts and comments, your overall attitude appears to be “we’re smarter and more important than everyone else, and we’re going to crap on the channel and everyone who develops for it to make a quick buck”. This self-centered, arrogant, egotistical attitude is exactly what’s wrong with society in general. You people are the embodiment of Archibald Wintersfield.

    I leave you with some more great quotes from jfarce:

    “So yeah, this is the epitome of a shameless cash-grab.”

    “Based on all this it should be pretty obvious that this will be a top seller. But the best part is that it only took us 6 days to make (since it’s just a modified version of Avatar Showdown). So this is easy money, really, a great move for our company. We would be stupid not to do this.”

    So following this logic, I guess that Microsoft is stupid for not selling everyone’s social security numbers and other personal data that premium members submit? I could think up hundreds of examples of why this flies in the face of good business sense, but I have a feeling that they’d be lost on you.

    For more examples of jfarce’s wonderful attitude, read this thread: http://forums.xna.com/forums/p/58507/358581.aspx

  • 44. JForce  |  September 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Wow dude, are you big daddio in disguise?

    1. I’m the only JForce member defending ourselves here, and I’m not doing art or programming for Unstoppable, plus I do this in my free time, so progress isn’t hindered. But as long as you guys keep on saying things that are easily refutable I’m gonna keep refuting them. Although there’ll be an infinite supply of people like you, so my fight is pretty hopeless. I’m gonna try though…

    2. we’re not crapping on the channel, already explained this thoroughly in that thread, the neogaf, and here. Top selling games are good for the channel.

    3. That would be very illegal, very unethical and just flat out evil for MS to do that. That would hurt consumers. Stupid analogy.

  • 45. gamerdude  |  September 27, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    No, I’m a random person on the internet, who happens to write games in my spare time.

    1) So you like to spend your free time starting flamewars? There’s a term for that; it’s called “trolling” and is generally frowned upon. Nothing I or anyone else here is saying is easily refutable – you keep sidestepping questions that you don’t have an answer for.

    2) How can you possibly know this? Your logic is flawed – you say that any top selling game is good for the channel, no matter what it is. If so, why don’t wal mart and Target start selling p*rn in their stores? That would sell well. They don’t because that might alienate a large portion of their target market. Yes, they would have “top sellers”, but at the expense of their bread and butter business?

    Or to dispense entirely with the analogies, how did you come to this conclusion? What facts led you to believe this?

    Your defense is mere speculation on your part, yet you are treating it as an undeniable fact to refute a valid argument. At best, that’s a straw man argument.

    3) Interesting. So how do you define unethical and “evil” behavior? Where do you draw the line at? Just because it’s illegal; but everything else is fair game, morals and ethics be damned?

  • 46. JForce  |  September 27, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    1. I’m not trolling. Can I not come here and defend our company?

    2. There’s no proof that massage apps are decreasing traffic to the channel. See my neogaf post for more on this: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?p=22761099#post22761099 I could go on about this, but it’s pretty common sense to me. It’s like when people argue that some AAA games are bad for the industry because they’re too violent or immature, and that the industry needs to grow up. It doesn’t need to grow up, the consumers do.

    And the p*rn in Walmart analogy breaks down pretty quickly. Huge groups of Christians would boycott Walmart because they object so strongly to what they’re doing. The other difference is that p*rn could be sold pretty much indefinitely. People will always wanna see more naked chicks. With massage apps you need to do something different, like add avatars and online play.

    3. If it’s illegal or unfair/damaging/dishonest to consumers, then it’s wrong, in my opinion.

  • 47. gamerdude  |  October 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    1) Definition of “troll”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

    “a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, [...] with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response”

    If the shoe fits… The fact is that you repeatedly post everywhere your “company” is mentioned trying to defend your actions. You knew that massage games are basically what made XBLIG a joke amongst gamers and the gaming media. You even wrote that “you’re writing this to try and soften the blow” right before explaining that because this is easy money you’re going to do it anyway, because you want a new car/whatever. And then you’re surprised at the reaction of the game making community.

    And then you post links to articles to try and justify why you need this money, even when the article ITSELF says that you don’t, in fact, need several hundred thousands dollars to make a high quality game. At best that’s just being foolish; at worst, outright trolling.

    2) I’ve read your posts, and they’re not common sense. They’re opinions mixed with straw man arguments to try and justify your actions.

    Thank you for agreeing with my analogy though (the bit about groups of people boycotting the store), since that’s exactly what happened with XBLIG. Why do you think gimmicky crap is so popular? Because people dumped a bunch of apps when the service first launched, and alienated the core gamer market when the good games started coming (look at the dream build play lists, there’s some great stuff there). Hence, the only people being drawn to XBLIG by gimmicky crap are those interested in gimmicky crap, not the core gamer market that are interested in, you know, games.

    If you still think it’s good for the channel, how do you explain the general opinion of major gaming sites who ignore XBLIG because it’s full of crap? How is THAT good for the channel?!?

    And adding Avatars onto the massager formula is now “innovative”? Seriously? Do you honestly believe that?

    3) Interesting. What about the large group of people who don’t even look at XBLIG even more because it’s full of (to quote a friend) “apps, massagers, and bad avatar games”? It’s not unfair to alienate them?

  • 48. JForce  |  October 2, 2010 at 1:04 AM

    1. I know the definition of trolling. I didn’t make that post to provoke people, like I said I made it to minimize backlash (which I failed at, but that’s besides the point).

    And I already explained why we need money. But I like how the only thing you highlight is “new car” just to try and make me look as bad as possible. I assure you that a new car is very low on my priority list.

    2. I’m researching for a new XNA forum thread that I’ll post soon which should prove you wrong. Hopefully it will be valid proof of the hypocrisy that’s so prevalent among most XNA devs who accuse others of “damaging the channel.”

    And I already responded to the claim that press “ignore” XBLIG (and even James did: http://twitter.com/#!/Jamezila/status/25085771957 )

    And I never said it’s innovative. It’s basically Remote Masseuse but with avatars, which is the next evolution, just like Remote Masseuse was the next evolution of Rumble Massage.

    3. First off where is this large group of people? You need to prove that claim. I’m working on valid proof of my claims as we speak, you could do the same. And anybody who makes that quote is either very dumb because they can’t even find the top rated games and they can’t simply skip over the ones they don’t like, or they’re exaggerating/half-joking, or they’re just not interested in indie games either way.

    But anyway, what’s really ridiculous about the massage hate is that there’s currently only 8 clear massage apps out of all 1337 games. That gives us a 0.6% massage app ratio. Then consider that back when all these criticisms were being tossed around, at most there was only 4 massage apps on the top downloads. 4 out of 20, and that was only for a very brief period. So anybody who ignores the channel because of a tiny amount of massage apps is being really, really stupid. So stupid that I refuse to even believe that it’s a possibility. I just can’t fathom that.

    And even if people were being “alienated” there still wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. Every product/service alienates someone. If we had it your way then the other group of consumers, which is clearly much larger, would be alienated. Why don’t you care about this group of consumers? Sales data proves they are larger. So does common sense. So does the console wars, seeing as how they’re all catering to the casual audience. Everyone knows that this audience is where the money’s at.

    So if you’re saying that making games for the majority of consumers is somehow unfair to the consumers who don’t want those games…well, as you can see that is a pretty ridiculous thing to say.

    The consumers have voted for these types of products. Developers are going to give them what they want. That’s business. Stop complaining and deal with it.

    -Jeremy

  • 49. JForce  |  October 3, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    Ok this is my last comment here, I just wanted to say that I’m not going to post that thread on the xna forums like I said I would. Instead I’ll post it on our blog.

    And I also wanted to quickly counter the “core gamers aren’t drawn to XBLIG” argument. Just look at Nuclear Wasteland. Nuff’ said.

    If you want to debate this more than wait for my blog post (yes if you couldn’t tell already I happen to enjoy arguing on the internet) :D

    -Jeremy

  • 50. Kyle  |  October 9, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    I feel yah. For honour!

  • 51. David (EccentricDuck)  |  October 10, 2010 at 5:22 AM

    I saw you at the PAX “Going Indie” panel. If there’s one thing I remember taking from the panel, above all other things, it’s that you and the other developers seemed genuinely happy with the directions you had taken. I know that not everyone at that table had released a game since “going Indie”, so financial reward couldn’t have been the common factor. Without a simple answer, I’ve been mulling it over since then. Here’s a thought I’ve had that ties in pretty strongly with what you wrote.

    I think a big part of it is the fact that you all had a relative degree of freedom to share your thoughts and ideas as you choose. In a sense, to contribute to something greater than yourself that you could share with others. I remember reading some research that talked about how the only real way to improve happiness, after satisfying basic human needs and comforts (enough $$$ to pay the bills and not be too stressed about finances), is to share that with others – or to a greater extent through creating something “greater than oneself”. This can come from the relationships we have with other people, and it can also come from the things we create and share with larger communities.

    Opportunism does not share in that same sense of giving to something greater than yourself. Taking an opportunistic philosophy feels “cheap”. Another bit of research (I’m a fan of behavioral science) I know of looked at the changes in behaviors of individuals who were “fake”. What that means is that they willingly did something that they knew was fake (even something as small as wearing fake designer labels that looked real) . It turns out that, while they were exhibiting the “fake” characteristic (whatever it was), they were more likely to lie, cheat, and were less trusting of others.

    Creating something that lives up to our idealistic visions is far better for our own self-esteem and happiness. I think too that it’s far better for innovation since it comes from a more “creative” mentality than a “cut and paste” one (it’s innovative/expressive/entrepreneurial as opposed to being safe).

    That being said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with earning $$$ from having your creations be incredibly successful, but I think a lot of the deeper satisfactions come from being true to yourself and sharing that – and I think that what you wrote here really speaks to that philosophy.

  • 52. Goatbot  |  April 8, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    Will Kip Skyler and Archibald Wintersfield ever meet in battle on XBLA? They look like the perfect antagonist/protagonist duo for a story. Plus getting enemies caught in a toastie jet pack blast is always immensely fun.

    Oh and +1 on the actual article.

    Also the last bit with the question about whether ZOMB1ES and Dishwasher (plus all your ZP2K games) I see as developments on a gameplay genre and they bring their own originality in to the mix. They could never be classed as imitations. :)

  • 53. thelostone  |  September 20, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    Here is my little re-post from the app hub forums. I’m a indie dev too, though not really a successful one :) :

    I guess that in a strange way its not IF you sell out, but WHEN you sell out that determines how much money you make. Same thing with fart apps on the iPhone. From what I hear the iFart guy made millions, but by now I’m sure the average fart app will make much less on the iPhone. So to be a successful sell out, you have to be the first to a specific market with an idea/concept. Which would make you an innovator, right?

    So… my “sell out” comment was probably taken a bit out of context. I do think that quality wins in the long term, but the marketing side is also very important. Its very difficult for us to get press for our games, so our trial downloads are going to be mostly based on having good box art and picking a concept/name that will get someone to try the demo. Also we are in the middle of another down-rating debacle, where games on top reviewed are dropping 30 spots in a day. In a few days the total number of 4+ star games has gone from 70 to only 43. This means that in the old days where low trial / high conversion games could make decent money by staying on top reviewed no longer exists. Games like IMAGWZII have enough reviews to be immune to this, but newer titles are going to have to rely more on top downloads than ever before. This means higher trials are going to be needed to stay higher on the list, thus the marketing side is even more important than ever.

    Man, I wish it were more simple, but as the service exists today I don’t think people will find a lot of success through blind idealism. However I guess an idealist with tremendous talent, such as Silva or Noogy are playing by different rules. They have a balance of artistic and technical ability that means they can afford to be idealistic and ambitious with their games. These are the type of talents who can win competitions and get their games on xbla. The rest of us have to compromise and find a balance between the two extremes of opportunism/idealism to justify the time we put into our games.

  • 54. Daniel  |  September 29, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Hey James I’ve got a question, when you’re trying to create programs or make XNA video games, should I start with

    Microsoft Visual Studio or Microsoft Visual Studio Express?

    Which one’s better?

  • 55. Jim Perry  |  November 11, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    @Daniel – VS Express is fine for doing XNA games. The full versions of VS are really meant for professional developers and are expensive.

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