Schafer: Microsoft has ignored warnings over XBLA decline

"Can you reverse an exodus? A redexus?"

Microsoft has failed to heeded warnings that developers are abandoning its Xbox Live Arcade platform, so says Double Fine boss Tim Schafer.

Speaking in an interview with IndustryGamers, Schafer explained that concerns raised in a hard-hitting blog post by World of Goo co-creator Ron Carmel last year do not seem to have been addressed by the company.

"I was hoping that would be a really, really eye-opening article for the console manufacturers... and I feel like it's been totally dismissed," he said.

"I really think it's something they can't dismiss and they should really pay a lot more attention to because he's calling attention to a migration, an exodus of real creative talent away from those platforms to more open platforms, and I think they should do something quick to reverse that.

"Can you reverse an exodus? Is there a term for that? A redexus?" he continued.

"Seriously, I think that that was kind of a warning call. It's not like 'it would be nice to do this' for developers - [if they don't] they're going to lose out. Things change every generation and just because you're on top and the 900 pound gorilla in one generation, as you've seen, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't mean it'll be that way forever. I think that these threats that are possibly being ignored are going to hurt those guys."

Schafer pointed at the ease of distribution and a more streamlined updating process on open platforms such as Steam and iOS as the main factors behind the trend away from XBLA and Sony's rival PlayStation Network.

"We can put something up on the App Store pretty easily. We can put stuff up on Steam really easily," he explained.

"I like the Xbox and the PS3. I like Sony and Microsoft, but those systems are closed and curated very closely and it costs a lot more money to go through that system, to patch a game.

"It makes me stressed out that if I put a game up there, I might not be able to patch it because it might cost too much money, whereas these more open platforms will let us manage our own price and our own updates. It's just a lot more appealing right now."

Schafer added that he hoped that both can turn things round and thrive, lauding how they've helped transform the market for independent games.

"There are good games on both platforms. And that's the thing, is that I really believe in both those platforms, and I want them to succeed," he insisted.

"We were used to thinking of these huge triple-A games and all of a sudden when you got your 360, one of the things that felt really next-gen about it was that you could download Geometry Wars for five dollars, and we hadn't done that before. I hadn't thought of buying that kind of game on a console before and I'm having tons of fun and I think that leads to a new creative outlet and brought us games like Limbo and Castle Crashers and all the great games that we saw on that platform.

"I want that to succeed. So when you read an article about that, warning about the migration away from the platform, that's a shame and we want that not to be the case."

Earlier this week, Double Fine announced that its new crowd-funded adventure title will launch on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, and will be DRM-free. The studio has released a spate of titles on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN in the last 18 months, most recently Kinect-only party game Happy Action Theatre.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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