XBLA a "slaughterhouse" for small devs

Joe Danger sold 50k in first week on PSN.

Joe Danger was launched on PlayStation Network because Hello Games believed Xbox Live Arcade was a "slaughterhouse" for small developers.

Co-founder Sean Murray - speaking at Brighton's Develop confernence today - said nearly half of all XBLA games sell less than 25,000 copies.

"Why choose PSN?" he asked the audience, as reported by sister site GamesIndustry.biz. "It was the only way we could self-publish.

"XBLA is kind of a slaughterhouse for smaller developers. There are games that do amazingly well. But there's two titles released every week and a lot of those are falling in that 25,000 or less category."

Murray's figures showed that 47 per cent of XBLA games sold less than 25,000 copies, 23 per cent sold around 100,000 copies, 13 per cent 200,000 copies and 17 per cent over 200,000 copies.

Murray said Joe Danger broke-even on day one and shifted 50,000 copies on PSN during its first week.

Despite console services presenting mouth-watering opportunities for independent developers, third parties still regard them, as Murray put it, as "the ginger step-child" of the digital market: they don't want much to do with them.

"It's not to say publishers are sh**," Murray elaborated, "but small studios are amazing in this space."

Apparently Joe Danger - awarded 8/10 on Eurogamer - was dismissed routinely by publishers, with Hello Games receiving put-downs such as, "Name me one popular game with motorbikes," and, "Can Joe be a monkey? We like monkeys."

Hello Games is now hard at work on a new game. As good as Joe Danger is, Murray said that if the four-man team could double, "what we could do with eight people could be f***ing amazing".

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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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