Shank dev attacks Summer of Arcade

"Spread it out so everyone can win."

The developer behind EA's downloadable sidescroller Shank has raised concerns that Xbox Live's annual Summer of Arcade promotion is making it hard for indie developers to succeed on the platform.

Speaking during a presentation at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco today, Klei Entertainment's Jamie Cheng complained that titles that aren't included in the promotino are left by the wayside.

"One of the flaws there is the king making the Summer of Arcade frenzy," he insisted. "If I got on it it great, I'm not going to complain, but... it's king making, that's what it is. It's a huge boost but everything around it falls to the side and you have to do whatever you can to pull yourself back up.

"I think it's a double-edged sword. It's a dangerous thing to rely so much on king making - all these promotions where it's focussed on this two week period. You really need to spread it out so everyone can win."

Cheng then called on both Microsoft and Sony to improve "recommendation systems" for their digital platforms. He argued that the more ways there were for games to be "organically found", the longer their sales tail would be. And the greater the chance developers had of success, the more likely it was that they would take risks and make interesting titles.

Among the measures he recommended bringing in were 'deal of the day' offers as well as just 'deal of the week', and allowing developers to more easily incorporate microtransactions into their titles.

Although he wouldn't divulge exact sales figures, Cheng revealed that Shank, which was not part of last year's Summer of Arcade, had been profitable for everyone involved.

The game, which launched on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in August last year, won a 5/10 from Eurogamer's Kristan Reed.

Last year's Summer of Arcade promotion featured Limbo, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, Monday Night Combat and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

Cheng isn't the first indie dev to take a pop at Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade set-up at GDC this week. Yesterday, Team Meat's Tommy Refenes vented spleen at the platform holder for the lack of launch support for Super Meat Boy.

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