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Indie RPG Struggles On Xbox, Yet Thrives On Steam 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the location-location-location dept.
derGoldstein writes "Two weeks ago Robert Boyd started offering his two RPGs Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World on Steam, for $2.99 (for both games combined). It fared far better than it had on the Xbox Live Indie channel: 'In less than a week, our Steam revenue has actually exceeded over a year and a half of XBLIG revenue for us.' Hopefully this will prompt more developers to port 'smaller' games over to Steam, especially since many of them can run on low-spec machines, like netbooks."
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Indie RPG Struggles On Xbox, Yet Thrives On Steam

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:24PM (#36850156)
    Steam seems far friendlier to indie games. I saw these titles on the front page of the Steam store. I expect they are far harder to find on XBox Live.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:28PM (#36850226)

      Part of it has to do with having a larger install base. Sure some require more than a typical PC to play, but I'm sure the number of machines that can run the games are significantly higher than the total number of XBoxes out there.

      • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:28PM (#36851128) Homepage
        Many of them only require minimal specs. I have Steam installed on a netbook, and while it's sluggish inside the Steam interface, the games themselves (the ones intended for low-spec machines) run just fine. This flexibility is a huge advantage.
      • Well that and the fact that the consoles are having such a long cycle this time means that games haven't been pushing PCs for awhile now. Hell even on the 3D games like shooters you'd be surprised what you could still game on.

        My oldest nephew had one of my hand me downs which he was using for gaming for ages, a 3.6Ghz P4 with HT and a 7600GS AGP and while he had to turn down the bling his TF2 and Bioshock II played just fine. I just recently took pity on him by upgrading him to a Pentium D and an HD4650 PCIe and while that isn't anywhere near top o' the line I was frankly surprised at how well it played games.

        So honestly it really don't take much to enjoy PC gaming anymore. you could probably pick up a $100 PC off of Craigslist that will play everything short of Crysis with a $40 discrete GPU. That's one of the things me and my customers are quite happy about, makes gaming cheap and easy. I have most of the graphics cranked to 10 on my games and my HD4850 cost a whole $60!

        I'm happy that Indie gamers are starting to warm up to Steam, as the more choices we have the better. Bring 'em on!

        • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday July 23, 2011 @06:53AM (#36855676) Journal
          Agreed. I've been picking up core2duo systems for $100 for awhile now on ebay. They're business machines so video is onboard but a $50 video card would make them pretty decent gaming machines, very few if any games require more than two cores.

          although I'll be honest, I play games far more often on my iPhone than my PC. I think it's because iPhone games are designed to be started instantly and close just as fast while PC and console seem to want you to sit for a few hours. That was easy at 10, not so easy now with a job and family.
          • Heck you can go even cheaper, as a LOT of those late model Pentium 4 LGA775 boards can take a Pentium D and those can be had for a whole $30 and the late model P4s often go for $40, even less sometimes. Drop in a cheap low midrange GPU (Tigerdirect had a Geforce 210 last week for $10) and voila! Gaming goodness. As I said the oldest as well as his little brother are gaming on Pentium Ds, one with a $45 HD4650 1Gb, the other with a $60 HD4850 and both are blasting away on TF2 and their RPGs.

            As for playing on a phone? Bah, why waste your juice on something you need for calls, when there are those ultra cheap emulator portables that will let you carry NES, SNES, GBA, GB, Gamegear, and Genesis consoles in your pocket, complete with 10+ hours on a battery and instant save anywhere functionality? It sure is nice when stuck in a line somewhere to whip out some Phantasy Star or Sonic and many also support video and audio so you can carry flicks and tunes on a microSD along with literally thousands of games.

            Maybe its just me, but I'd rather save my phone for making calls. Then again when you have elderly parents you don't like to risk being out of touch because your phone is dead from pisslefarting around with the thing.

            • by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @03:23AM (#36861082) Journal
              These are complete [] core2duo computers [] for $100. [] I'm sorry but p4 and Pentium D are ancient and not suitable for modern gaming.

              ..."why waste your juice on something you need for calls, when there are those ultra cheap emulator portables"

              Yet another device to carry around. Thanks but I'll stick with my iPhone, and yes it does have Final Fantasy [] specifically designed for the touchscreen, or what many call WoW for iPhone (I've played it, it really is WoW) []

              "Maybe its just me, but I'd rather save my phone for making calls."

              Shhh, otherwise we'll have to pull your geek card because you sound like my baby-boomer parents.
              • And how many of those on eBay will you get a box with a brick? I quit messing with eBay after buying some off lease machines that were SUPPOSED to be late model P4s and they shipped me some 386 shitpiles it looked like they had literally picked up off the side of the road and all I got from eBay was basically "tough shit". Now I will ONLY shop Craigslist where I can see the actual merch or someplace where I know its legit like Starmicro (GREAT place for CPUs BTW) and Surpluscomputers.

                And while you may not care for the Pentium Ds frankly for MMOs which is all the kids seem to want to play nowadays they work real fine with an HD46xx or better and you can OC them like mad if you want even on air cooling. As I told another poster I offered to build the boys new AMDs and was told "Why bother? We are getting great gaming from what we got. All our games play smooth, everything works great, we're happy". And lets be honest the MMOs just don't slam the crap out of CPUs, lag is the only real limiting factor it seems for games like TFII, LOTRO, and Lunia.

                And while I may SOUND like your baby boomer parents I doubt they are getting looks from carrying a device that keeps yelling "Get over here!" while doing standing in line at the DMV. Besides when you have elderly relatives a single missed call can fuck your world up. My grandma recently passed away (made it to 95, tough little woman my grandma) and I was glad to get to see her one last time before she passed. if I had blown the power on my cell playing games and missed that call? Frankly it would have ate at me for ages. Games are for fun, but your phone can be life or death.

    • by BlueMikey (1112869) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:30PM (#36850248)
      Well, and the question is whether he could have gotten on Steam in the first place without getting popular on XBLA in the first place---he'd be nowhere without XBLA. Steam promotes his game on their service because they already know it is popular among those who play it.
      • [citation needed]. Steam may not carry "bad" games, but they sure promote a ton of unknown (that is, not yet popular) games.

        Steam is particularly fantastic with indie games. Just look at the Potato Sack - a large bundle of highly-discounted games that *everybody* (ok, hundreds of thousands) bought because it was tied in to the Portal 2 launch.

        • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:37PM (#36851268) Homepage
          It also doesn't have the super-fast life cycle that you'd see on other systems, in terms of exposure. You'll keep getting offered 3 and 4 year-old games, that are excellent, and cost a third of their launch price. Not to mention that special offers (the ones that last a couple of days) can slash the price of a relatively recent game (~2 years old) to $15 and lower, for a games that launched at $55.

          There are also constantly offers of bundles of game "series" and games+DLC, as well as the "Valve Pack" and "Id Pack" -type deals. Most of the games I buy these days aren't full-price, in fact they're usually less than half-price. This wasn't the case 5 years ago.
          • by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday July 23, 2011 @12:00AM (#36854576) Homepage

            Let's be realistic, it is all down to the game packs. Buying a whole bunch of games for one relatively accessible price, even if half of them suck, the rest are still cheap enough. Of course steam can become unreliable at times when huge numbers of packs go out the digital door leaving millions of gigabytes to download, creating huge burdens on their systems, with regards to login, game downloads, and game connections.

            What your actually paying for a game becomes arbitrary, likely paying more for a newer game and getting the older game as cheap bait to get you to bite. You do end up getting stuck with multiple copies of the same game which can get frustrating. Perhaps Steam should allow you to donate unwanted game licences to worthwhile causes ie. community orgs that can give fee access to hardware just need game licences to play (rather than cluttering up your game library).

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:36PM (#36850352) Homepage Journal

      No, actually the problem is the opposite. Independent games on steam seem to have some sort of quality control, whereas xbox indie games include a ton of trash that block out the decent items.

      • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JMZero (449047) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:55PM (#36850646) Homepage

        I wandered through the thread for a while to confirm someone had the right answer.

        If this was a comparison between "proper" XBox arcade games and Steam, then it would mean something. But "Indie Games" is a wasteland (because of no quality control or promotion of quality games), and none of the XBox owners I know have bothered to look there for a long time.

        There's a strong, justified assumption that if something is in "Indie Games", it's trash. MS need to give some attention to helping promote and discover good games, or else Indie Games will continue to wither (despite, reasonably good tools and technology).

      • by brit74 (831798) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:22PM (#36851856)
        "Independent games on steam seem to have some sort of quality control,"
        You have to be accepted by Steam in order to have your game on the service. I don't know what the system is on the XBox.
        • You have to be accepted by Steam in order to have your game on the service.

          From Steamworks FAQ []: "For new games we look for unique and interesting gameplay and art, and of course it should be fun!" That doesn't give much detail, especially how much of a budget they're expecting to produce "unique and interesting [...] art". Another technical criterion is that it run on a PC, which has its own limitations such as generally smaller monitors than consoles.

          I don't know what the system is on the XBox.

          Xbox Live Indie Games, as I understand it [], starts with legal residence in select countries plus paying $99 per year to join App Hub in order to run your game on a console. Other App Hub members perform "peer review", or evaluation of your game against a technical requirements checklist. Some of the requirements include 1. being written entirely in C# (or another verifiably type-safe language supported by XNA), not C++; and 2. not having any dialogue written in the made-up language of a fictional culture. (Sorry, Tolkien wannabes.) If your game passes peer review, it gets added to Indie Games for as long as you maintain your App Hub membership. Indie Games are not available in countries with a government-imposed requirement of classification of all video games for objectionable material.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:44PM (#36850448) Homepage Journal

      even if someone found it on xbox, they're more likely to buy it on pc. pc is just better by default, if not for any reason that you usually get to keep your game one way or another and play at more places. quote from art: "Also, apparently, people are starting to pirate our games. If that isn't proof that we've hit it big, I don't know what is," too bad that part isn't true, as a way to spur up some interest in me to get a job now many years ago, I did couple of shareware games for s60(ngage was the best platform to play them with, tbh). they were on warez bots on irc in less than 20 buys from handango(but then again, so was the freeware one! I guess those bots were the best way to find fresh software). but if they got plenty of seeds on their torrents it means they did something right.

      • pc is just better by default

        Not if you have friends over. PCs are perfectly capable of split- or otherwise shared-screen multiplayer play (just connect four USB gamepads and an HDTV), but far more games for Xbox 360 than for PC actually support it. It's a lot cheaper to buy three spare gamepads in case friends visit you than to buy three spare gaming PCs to make a LAN party.

        • by Archwyrm (670653) on Friday July 22, 2011 @08:09PM (#36853534) Homepage

          I would really like to see more PC games that support this. I regularly get together with a friend who doesn't do much gaming on his own (due to a lack of adequate hardware) to play some co-op on my PC. The selection of PC games that support this is pretty slim but there are a few good titles such as Shadowgrounds (and its sequel), Magicka, Trine, and a couple more.

          I hate to complain about what is out there, but most of these games are really hard to play with a gamepad. Maybe I am just too used to a keyboard and mouse, but multiple keyboard/mouse support (which SDL has had for some time) would be nice. Well, now that the Shadowgrounds source is available, maybe we will eventually see it for that.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:05PM (#36850806)

      Consoles in general are not good for RPG games It is really a PC thing. Probably due to the old days RPG needed a keyboard... Although they are less needed now it is probably still a PC mindset to play RPG while you do action games on Consoles.

    • by mekkab (133181) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:13PM (#36850934) Homepage Journal
      These were on special last week; I actually considered buying them (opted for Lume, which was Win and Mac OS, instead) but PS3 and Xbobx360 are all HDMI look great flashbang boom. The graphics on these boys? To call them "old school" is charitable. And as much as I am on the "playability beats graphics" just last week on the Blood Bowl internet leagues I saw people chatting about how a free java version of blood bowl was "laughable because it wasn't even animated." Good graphics are a REALITY of modern gaming. Do I want to see pixellated crud on my 55" 1080p tv? In the immortal words of Er, "damn no." But on a laptop or on a minimized screen off to the side? sure thing. pop it in and I'll relive my phantasy star days!
  • Well, duh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:24PM (#36850160)

    On Steam, the games are promoted with giant images and a discount on the front page every time you visit the site.

    On XBLA, finding where the Indie games are is a game in itself. Hell, sometimes even finding a non-indie game that just doesn't happen to be promoted well is difficult. They can't be wasting all that space advertising videogames, after all. They need that precious space so they can sell their paying customers repulsive AXE body spray, beef jerky, cell phone plans, and advertise the latest shitty romantic comedy featuring people you've never heard of.

    • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:53PM (#36850602)

      It's not just that. For the steam release, I saw people blogging about it, but I heard nothing about it prior to that.

      It's not a surprise to me that an unknown game doesn't get sold. You have to advertise it.

      • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:44PM (#36851374) Homepage

        ...For the steam release, I saw people blogging about it

        It makes more sense when you consider that it's all on the same platform. If you see a good deal on Steam, and you're on Twitter/Facebook, you're just an Alt+TAB away from recommending it to whomever is following you. This is especially true for short-span offers. It's common to see a tweet like "game X is awesome and it's on Steam for half price right now!". A couple of times I saw a tweet like that while I was working, for a game that I wanted to try out. I just launched the Steam client, made the purchase, and got back to work. This is a scenario that can't happen on a console.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday July 22, 2011 @09:04PM (#36853822) Journal

      On Steam, the games are promoted with giant images and a discount on the front page every time you visit the site.

      Not just then. They also seem to pop up new game announcements and ads for large-scale sales when you close the game you've been playing, if something new appeared since you last did that - and I believe with some preconfigured frequency (i.e. not more often than 1 per day?).

      It sounds annoying, but I actually like it - it gives me reasonable rate of updates, and, despite being a popup, it actually happens at the point where it doesn't interfere with my workflow (I've just closed a fullscreen game, so it doesn't interrupt anything I might be typing etc).

  • by SoTerrified (660807) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:26PM (#36850190)

    I think it's pretty obvious. There's a lot of PC gamers who grew up with games very much like indie RPGs. Whereas the average console gamer grew up with twitch games. Does it really surprise anyone which platform will be superior for that genre?

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:28PM (#36850216)

    Anyone who logs into steam sees the front page sales first thing, and this game was on it IIRC. Also, the update news will show new games for those who stay logged in all the time. Not to mention, steam almost always has some pretty good sales going on (even besides the annual summer sale, which is the best in the business) so its worth checking around for new releases/ specials. I do, anyways, and I suspect a lot of others do as well. Combine this with steams relative ease of use and extreme ease of purchase (seriously: I can have the game downloading in under 30 secs after I decide to buy), and you pretty much have a winner. Not sure how easy it is on Xbox, but it can't be a whole lot easier than steam.

    Moreover, PC gamers love cheap indie games like this, much more so IMHO than console games. To be honest, I'm note sure why so many indie developers even target Xbox/PS3. Fear of piracy, maybe? If so, its a BS reason: I'll gladly buy a good 3-5$ (sometimes more) game, and so will many others, even those who will happily pirate more expensive AAA games.

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:41PM (#36850404)

      Well, fear of piracy isn't really a BS reason. Large numbers of people pirated the humble indie bundle, despite the fact that it could be purchased for $1 (or was it 1 cent?). Some people are just incredibly selfish. I can understand why devs might want to avoid that, even though I think they're making a mistake if they do.

      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:51PM (#36850566)

        True, some people will never buy the game. You won't get money from them in any way.

        However, for others the case is different. For instance, I first played World of Goo when a friend pirated it and gave it to me. Never would have played it otherwise. Guess what? I now own it on steam. Never installed it (yet), but I might get around to replaying it on there at some point. Regardless, they now have a sale they wouldn't have had it not been for piracy. Piracy can be an indie games greatest advertiser. The game maker even mentions that: he considered that he'd gone big when his game started being pirated. Piracy means your game is actually popular enough people want to share and play it, and that means people will buy it. Some of them anyways.

        • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:56PM (#36850664)

          People always bring up this argument, but it is deeply, deeply flawed.

          You assume:
          A) That no one who pirates a game would have bought it otherwise. This is false. There are at least some people who would have.
          B) That a substantial number of people buy the game after having pirated it. This is true to an extent, but you have no idea how common it is.

          If the number of people in category A exceeds the number in category B, then it is a net loss for the developers. The fact that you fall into group B does not mean that most people do.

          • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:24PM (#36851062)

            The number of people in category A has been demonstrated to be very, very small in every study to date (TorrentFreak links to many of them), while the number of B's is quite high. There are a multitude of studies that show that people who pirate heavily, have also invested lots more money in the medium they pirate than infrequent downloaders.

            If I only have $100 monthly to spend on gaming, that's all I have to spend on gaming. Sure, I could pirate beyond that budget because its free, but if somehow magically became unavailable, I'd just have to go without. Most people work in this way if they have any financial wits. Moreover, I would think that frequent pirates who are technically able and very invested in gaming will be the discriminating when choosing what they do with the money they have budgeted for entertainment - I know I am. Many pirates reward developers who make fantastic games and make ethical and user-friendly choices like avoiding DRM. The Humble Bundle, for all the piracy thereof, made MILLIONS regardless! Devs and publishers need to stop looking at imaginary losses and look instead to increasing real gains. Make your game high quality, get rid of draconian DRM and price-gouging DLC, sell it for a reasonable price across as many platforms as you can, and people will buy - simple as that. That's how you get everyone, pirates and non-pirates alike, to use their budgeted entertainment fund for your game.

          • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:27PM (#36851106)

            You forgot about
            C)All the people who hear about the game from friends who pirated it and then go out and buy it. Probably pretty huge. Granted I didn't explicitly mention it (my bad).

            However, the whole debate is rather pointless as no one has any really good numbers. Its nearly impossible to know. I do grant that people who bring this argument up in discussions about AAA titles are probably mostly wrong, what with the amount of marketing/demos those already have (and I can personally say that I generally don't buy those games if I pirate them), but I do think its quite relevant when talking about indie games. My point is that piracy is a bad reason to stay away from PC gaming, especially for an indie developer. Oh, and piracy can (and does) happen on consoles, too, although its not as common, and Sony/Microsoft like to pretend it can't.

          • by IICV (652597) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:29PM (#36851132)

            Dude, there was an article on Slashdot just two ago [] saying that the media corporations had suppressed a study showing that B is effectively true for music and video (the study showed that pirates are better customers than non-pirates, which implies that pirates in general are likely to purchase the things that they pirate given that they 1. pirate a lot of stuff and 2. buy a lot of stuff).

            Why would you assume that games are be any different?

      • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:16PM (#36850968)

        Many people, including myself, downloaded the humble indie bundles from their favorite torrent site after paying for them. Why should I have to go to the trouble of individually downloading each game through an overloaded http server when I can just grab the torrent?

        My point is that the piracy figures for the humble bundles are ridiculously misleading, even for piracy figures.

    • I'm note sure why so many indie developers even target Xbox/PS3.

      For single-player games, I agree with you. For multiplayer games, it's the fact that far more people have a console connected to a TV than have a PC connected to a TV. It's hard to fit you and three mates around a 17" screen.

    • by brit74 (831798) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:24PM (#36851898)
      To be honest, I'm note sure why so many indie developers even target Xbox/PS3. Fear of piracy, maybe?
      I'd guess because it's another market. In fact, the console market is far larger than the PC market. I think the PC market is something like $1 Billion/year (about half of what it was ten years ago), while the entire game market is something like $30 Billion/year - which is mostly consoles and mobiles.
  • by Renaissance 2K (773059) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:29PM (#36850240)

    Why is it that everyone who links to this article uses "Xbox" or "Xbox Live" in the title instead of the more specific (and less newsworthy) "Xbox Live Indie Games?"

    There's been a slew of articles lately describing how difficult it is to profit from the XBLIG channel. If the games were on the Xbox Live Arcade and got trounced by Steam, that might be worth reporting. As is, saying a game could not find success on the Indie Games channel is borderline obvious.

  • by jabberw0k (62554) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:36PM (#36850348) Homepage Journal
    Pakistan better be worried, if India has rocket propelled grenades that run on steam! ... but honestly I'm just reading the headlines.
  • by Lance Dearnis (1184983) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:37PM (#36850364)
    This makes me wonder - seeing the HUGE level of success achieved here, relative to the XBLIG, and compared to PSN Minis, what do people see as the chances of Steam or a Steam-like platform dedicated solely to indie games coming out soon? This story's starting to pick up some major press for an 'Indie' game, enough that other developers are going to see it. I think Steam's going to become a part of all their plans now - they're interested enough in making money to do it. I think the Indie scene is looking better then ever with this result.
    • by Jeng (926980) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:57PM (#36850668)

      Why make an Indie game section? Indie isn't a category, it's a development path.

      By separating them from other sections they get less exposure unless someone specifically looks for it in the indie section. If I'm looking for a racing game I am not going to first look under racing, and then search under indie for any other racing game that might be interesting to me.

      If indie gets it's own category it will be the special ed of categories.

      If it does not get it's own category then indie will battle head to head with the big dogs, and that is how good indie games will get noticed.

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:00PM (#36850716)
      That sounds like a bad idea to me. I don't have any market research to back it up but it seems like part of the problem with indie games on the XBox is that they're relegated to the separate XBLIG channel. On Steam they're right there on the main page mixed in with everything else, and compared to the more mainstream games they look like a great deal for the price. I expect that making a separate platform for the indie games would drastically cut down on the number of people seeing the games and thus the number of people buying the games.
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:01PM (#36850742)

      Steam already has an Indie game section. Just go to the store, click on "Genres" and select "Indie". Considering that, at any given time, there are at least a couple indie games on the front page, I think Valve is very serious about pushing indie titles. Most likely because they tend to be low cost, meaning that they can be impulse buys, and thus generate more revenue than $50 non-AAA games.

      • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:54PM (#36851526) Homepage

        Most likely because they tend to be low cost, meaning that they can be impulse buys, and thus generate more revenue than $50 non-AAA games.

        The impulse buy is certainly a big part of it. I'm not going to lose any sleep on a $5 mistake, but if I by a $50 game that I get tired of after a couple of hours, it'll really bug me. Because of this, I won't wait for there to be 15 reviews on metacritic for a $5 game -- if I see just a couple of recommendations, and I know it's the type of game I'll probably like, then I'll just take the chance. Sure, I've been burnt a couple of times, but there were far more cases where I found I really fun time-sink for spare change.

      • by tsotha (720379) on Friday July 22, 2011 @08:01PM (#36853476)

        That's the way it works for me. Having been burned a few times on the $50 titles I'd rather take that same money and buy a whole bunch of cheaper games in the hope one or two will be genuinely entertaining. The problem is I don't stop at $50.

    • by PwnzerDragoon (2014464) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:26PM (#36851934)
      It's been done, it's called Desura []. It's focused on indie games and mods, though there's a few older AAA games on it as well.
  • It's simply PC. Although Steam is the most popular distribution channel for the PC, indie games for the PC also sell well through other channels.
    It's just a major difference in culture for the gamers.

  • by calderra (1034658) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:54PM (#36850630)
    Has anyone here actually bothered looking at all or is everyone just assuming? xbla provides a list of top rated and most downloaded games, Indie rpgs are all over those lists, including cthulu. And the marketplace has a new games section too, so cthulu got advertising. I'm not really sure what to make of this. Unless people are just so lazy or uninformed that nobody bothers to check out the Indie games on Xbox. Or if steam's level of purchasing is just that high.
    • by JMZero (449047) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:05PM (#36850800) Homepage

      And the marketplace has a new games section too...

      Yes - I'm sure they had a few minutes in the sun before they got pushed off by "XBox Massage Master" and "Avatar Tic-Tac-Toe: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS chapter 1 by PandaStar Studio in co-operation with JohnnyFyre".

      Has anyone here actually bothered looking at all or is everyone just assuming?

      Yes. Most everyone with an XBox and non-infinite time (at least among people I know) has given up even scrolling over to the Indie Games new releases. Anytime I've heard Indie Games discussed among developers, it has been in the context of "How can I get out of the Indie Games ghetto and into the regular Arcade games where someone might give the game a try?"

      Unless people are just so lazy or uninformed that nobody bothers to check out the Indie games on Xbox.

      You don't have to be lazy or uninformed to get tired of checking Indie Games. I have regretted it every time I've bothered to download something. A game has to be pretty bad before I resent the 5 minutes it took to check it out... and they've been consistently that bad.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Friday July 22, 2011 @03:59PM (#36850706)

    It is no surprise. The good game to crap ratio in XBLIG is terrible just due to the nature of how games are put there, and games have almost no chance of making a real profit there. There's no proper advertising or anything. You just dump your game there and spread advertising through word of mouth yourself. Advertise yourself, and hope you can make some money.

    Steam is different. They advertise (a lot) for you, help you pick out a good price, have all sorts of awesome deals you can arrange. It's a wonderful place to make money.

  • by A Friendly Troll (1017492) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:02PM (#36850760)

    Haven't played them yet (and don't know when I will - probably not before September), but I bought them because the developer actually priced them HONESTLY - usually there's a $1 = 1â parity on Steam, but this package was 1.99â. In fact, that's even cheaper than $2.99! Mind asplodes!

    So, essentially, the guy got my money because he isn't a greedy, obnoxious jerk who thinks that it's fine to charge European customers 40% extra. That's damn rare, and deserves an applause. And money, too.

  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:05PM (#36850794)

    I bought the bundle on Steam, because I like to support indie games and 2 games for $2.50 was the right indie price. As it turns out, both are excellent titles in the vein of the old Dragon Warrior series and I look forward to further offerings. Steam offers great promotion whenever they run one of their sales or announce something new, and I'm very glad that they extend this courtesy to indie games selling for under $5 as they do big-name AAA titles.

      Personally, I feel that we in its entirety, we no longer need game consoles - they're a relic of a day when affordable computing was generally of singular purpose. Today, consoles are more PC-like than ever, save for restrictive OSes and locked down tech to limit doing things to "The Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo" way. Its pretty much holding games hostage - "If you want to play Metal Gear Solid 4, you have to buy a PS3, abide by its rules, use PSN to go online for multiplay etc...". Every game from the indie set to the biggest corporate AAA kit is developed on let them play on PCs as well. Many of us own PCs and it costs less to outfit them for gaming with more power and control available for the money. Peripherals and controllers can easily be sold separately and used on a PC - most already are and Microsoft's full support of the X360 controller under Windows shows this in action (Compare to Sony's refusal to put together a driver package for the Dual Shock 3, so you have to use 3rd party hacked drivers and give up an entire bluetooth dongle. Nobody is buying Dual Shock 3 to play PC games or emulators, for the most part, where people are using Logitech F710 and X360 types). I can't think of a single reason for consoles to still exist, save for greed and to a lesser extent "tradition". It angers me further to see the "consolization" of powerful multiuse hardware into locked down content delivery platforms (ie. iOS etc...)

    Especially Indie developers who run on shoestring budgets, casting your lot with Steam, Humble Indie Bundles, Desura and other "friendly" digital distribution services is a good move. You'll have quite a bit more freedom than the console stores and have a better chance of your target audience equipped to play your game and willing to invest, especially with niche titles. There are things that I wish Steam would do better (ie. Linux Client.) but they do provide a great value in advertising, showing your game directly to people that buy other games whenever they log in. Consoles seem intent on extorting as much money as possible for everything and their taint has crossed to the PC world quite some time ago, such aswhen Oblivion's PC version had paid Horse Armor DLC on 360, they couldn't provide it for free on PC. Many console (and consolized-favoring) platform owners talk a good game about "develop for our platform and you'll have access to all these people who do X, Y, and Z and you'll be rich.", but those words are just wind. PC development give you choices and allows you to easily port, use or make any tools you desire and basically create as you wish without limits and with plenty of options.

    • by Desler (1608317) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:12PM (#36850914)

      Its pretty much holding games hostage

      Yes, because Sony and Microsoft and Nintendo are forcing people to make games for their consoles contrary to their will.

      • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:50PM (#36851470)

        Well, if you look at some of the agreements necessary (especially in years past - look at the whole Official Nintendo Seal of Quality debacle), it has limited what developers can do, though not as much as it once did. Exclusives and timed exclusives still persist, sometimes in contract but I wasn't really referring to console manufacturers holding games hostage "by themselves", but rather the entire industry - development, publishing etc... is creating games in a way that isn't to the benefit of the user.

        Take any Console exclusive, like aforementioned Metal Gear Solid 4. If one wants to enjoy that game, you have to purchase a PS3 and all necessary peripherals and use PSN for online play, abiding by the rules Sony sets down which as we've seen are pretty draconian. Now, MGS4 could easily run on the PC I'm typing this upon. Hell, Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess runs at 1920x1080 on this PC, using the Dolphin Emulator and hooking up my Wiimote w/bluetooth - I'm actually getting a better experience on PC! Yet, neither of those titles are available on the PC despite the better experience it would provide. Consoles require an additional equipment purchase of fixed prices just to run the game and add a level of proprietary lockdown because of it - Its not "your" console, its not "your" game, its not "your" online service, its "theirs", and either you conform to their rules, or you can't play. So you have to go through agreeing to pay lots of money for hardware and software that is tightly controlled in how it may be used, or you can't play these games. This is what I mean by "hostage".

        We've come to a sad time in gaming where the industry seems to see the players as "the enemy", to be wrung as tightly as possible until every last cent drips from them, while giving them just enough to keep them coming back. Consoles are an extension of this now and a way to wrest control away from the user. They are no longer necessary technologically and we shouldn't have to put up with these draconian regulations just to have access to the games we want.

    • What you say is perfectly true for single-player but not multiplayer.

      Every game from the indie set to the biggest corporate AAA kit is developed on let them play on PCs as well.

      How big is a typical PC monitor? 17" to 19" diagonal viewable image size. Some laptops are smaller, some desktops are bigger, but take that as a median. How big is a living room TV? Twice that, which means four times the area, enough for you and three mates instead of just you.

      have a better chance of your target audience equipped to play your game

      Except people aren't equipped to play a multiplayer indie game. Any TV made in the past five years VGA and HDMI inputs on which PCs are perfectly capable of displaying video, but CronoCloud and other Slashdot users tell me that the "home theater PC" install base is so minuscule that an HTPC-targeted game would not be profitable. (I can provide citations if you wish.) So how do indie game developers convince the general public to connect PC to TV?

  • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:22PM (#36851036) Homepage

    Most people aren't willing to drop five, or even three, bucks on a game that they've never heard of or never played. Without some sort of input, whether from a review, or friend's recommendation, or a demo, I won't buy a game, even if it does cost less than a trip to McDonald's.

    What I would really like to see is an average time-played ratings system in Steam, XBLA, etc. I'd like to be able to log in to the Steam store, search for games at the $5 point, and then look at the ones that people have played for more than ten or twenty minutes (I have several of those, like Altitude, which just didn't catch my interest). Limit it to purchases that have actually been installed and launched, and I bet you could get a pretty good disguised ratings system out of it. Include some sort of algorithm to account for newly-released (maybe one week-old?) games, and I think it would be very useful.

    • by JMZero (449047) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:44PM (#36852196) Homepage

      Most people aren't willing to drop five, or even three, bucks on a game that they've never heard of or never played.

      Every XBL Indie Games release has to have a free demo (and they give you help in the platform API to manage locked features/time-limiting/etc.. they did have some good ideas with this platform). You never have to buy a game sight unseen.

      But you're right anyways.

      Why? Because after a while, people aren't just unwilling to pay for a game. If the games are bad enough - and XBL Indie Games is a perfect platform for displaying how bad games can be - people will become unwilling to even browse titles. So, yes, any metric that could be used to filter out ridiculous chaff would be very helpful to the platform.

      • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:40PM (#36852884) Homepage

        I didn't realize XBL indies were required to have a demo - I do all my gaming on PC, and have never even used XBL (I only have a 360 because of MS's free 360 promo this summer). But I get very annoyed when games don't have a demo - I'm not a programmer, but I can't believe they take much more effort to make once you've actually finished a game. So when a game doesn't have a demo, I just assume that it's like when production companies don't allow prescreenings of big films - it usually means they're very, very bad.

        Sure, that's not fair to the few good games where Accounting said, "No, we're not going to pay two guys for another week to cut out Worlds 1-3 through 8-4 just to make a demo," but it's not my fault that their marketing and accounting departments are out of touch with the real world.

  • Apart from the obvious quality/crap ratio problem, there's also the MS points as currency conundrum. Why do some (mostly media) corporations insist on obfuscating prices with native point systems? It doesn' matter that they make odd bucks by uneven surplusses when people buy way way less by having to jump through extra hoops just to make a microtransaction? I buy 1/2/3/5-dollar apps all the time for iOS, and would probably do the same in Steam if I was a PC/Mac gamer, but on Xbox Live, when I have to buy big chunks of MS points at confusing rates and quantities? No thanks. And I'm sure that's a big part of the problem for XBLA/XBLIG. Just let people see the real price and buy with a single click (okay okay, thumbstick depress).
  • by aepervius (535155) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:02PM (#36853056)
    He just won two sales after I read the review. Already downloading.

There has been a little distress selling on the stock exchange. -- Thomas W. Lamont, October 29, 1929 (Black Tuesday)