Games with Gold boosts Pool Nation FX downloads into the millions

"Majority unpaid" but exposure for indie game "second to none".

It probably passed you by but Xbox One game Pool Nation FX has, in three months, been downloaded 2.5 million times - a tally any game would be proud of. The handsome pool simulator broke 1 million downloads in only four days.

It launched as a Games with Gold title, which means from 1st April it was available free to anyone with an Xbox Live Gold membership. Today is its last day in the programme.

That means there are two sides to this story. One on hand it's unbelievable exposure for the six person Cherry Pop Games team from Salford, UK. But on the other hand, the vast majority of those downloads were for free.

"The majority unpaid unfortunately," Cherry Pop spokesperson Gemma Jessop told me. "I would like to say that we make a fortune out of it but we won't be driving around in Ferraris any time soon.

"However, the awareness is second to none. It was a great opportunity for an indie. As for all indies these days, it's hard to even get your head above the crowds with a small team and a limited budget. But working with Microsoft all that worry is taken away - you know you will get noticed."

She said there was "a fee paid" by Microsoft to Cherry Pop, but that the real value was in the exposure. Apparently the deal came about at Gamescom last year when Microsoft saw the game and put her in touch with the Games with Gold team. There weren't many requirements beyond the usual submission processes and Microsoft were, she said, "very flexible".

Pool Nation FX recreates pool in 10 rule variants both online and off - with a new offline Career mode due in an upcoming patch. PC and PS4 versions are also planned although there's no word on when.

I've just been sent today's [Microsoft hasn't released the patch yet but should imminently, I'm told -Edit] patch notes. Apparently one big addition is that you cannot quit out of an online game with immunity now. You are penalised with a loss. In AI matches points and coins will be dished out appropriately you cheating swine. Patch notes follow.

General

  • Improved loading times throughout
  • Improved, more stable frame rate. Solid 60fps
  • Improved balls (Shinier)
  • Updated menu design
  • New, prettier, less intrusive HUD
  • Local avatars
  • Can now purchase in game money
  • Various room and table visual improvements
  • Various stability fixes.

Online

  • In Friendly games, the host is now returned to the lobby if the client disconnects.
  • Tables are now colour coded depending on the League you are in.
  • Fixed cash exploit
  • 'Waiting for opponent' message now displayed if waiting for their connection
  • Various crash fixes
  • Smoother cue and ball movement when viewing opponents turn.

Gameplay

  • The power bar has returned! Its opacity/visibility can be changed in settings.
  • Cue ball no longer sticks to other balls/cushions when moving
  • New ball marker displayed when you have ball in hand
  • Aiming aid now stays visible when moving ball
  • Aiming aid is now the same colour as the balls in Endurance.
  • Fixed physics bug where balls would roll outside the table as if it was still on the table.

Snooker

  • New snooker Career!
  • Snooker balls updated so graphics on them are larger/clearer
  • Cue is no longer forced up at sides of snooker table near cushions
  • Aiming aid now turns red if you aim at illegal ball
  • You can now forfeit frames if opponent gets too far ahead.
  • Various snooker rule fixes.
  • Fixed bug where balls could get stuck in pockets, making the game un-finishable.
  • Fixed bug where Player 1 would always break.
  • Fixed delay at start of snooker game.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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