Based on a survey crafted and administered by 2D Boy co-founder, Ron Carmel, the studio has made a claim that XBLA, as an environment for independent games, is on the down slope. According to the opinions taken from a collection of developers responsible for notable games, interest is swinging in the direction of other platforms.
Taking the seventh and eight spots, respectively, PSN and XBLA were rated under iOS, Linux, PC, Mac, and Flash/browser systems based on ease of use. In describing what it is like working with these platforms, survey responders concurred that XBLA was “excruciating”.
Carmel explained it like so:
Given that ease of working with the platform owner was voted the most important factor in choice of platforms, it becomes perfectly clear why XBLA, despite being a very strong channel with a large audience and huge earning potential, is dropping in popularity among these developers.
Carmel went on to suggest that as developers grow disinterested and frustrated with the system, “the diversity of games available on XBLA will diminish, quality will suffer, and revenue numbers will drop as players start to move away from an unremarkable portfolio of games.”
There is significant worry in his report that as the interest for creating new and exciting content dwindles, bringing developers back and keeping players loyal may become an irreparably damaging issue for the brand. In fact, Carmel points to a Gamasutra report that suggests this may already be what’s happening with the system.
But, Carmel isn’t just all statistics. He has mused on the problem and, provided in his report is a list of ten things Microsoft can do to reinvigorate faith in the platform, which I’ve summed up below:
1. Devise a new contract between developers and Microsoft. One that doesn’t exploit the creator and bog down production with legal complications.
2. Increase awareness and ease of use in the marketplace, so that users are aware of the content.
3. Remove the requirement of adding a Microsoft Game Studios producer to the development process, which slows and complicates production, as well as consuming a portion of the overhead.
4. Remove restrictive testing requirements that slow the release of games and updates.
5. Get rid of the exclusivity requirement for independent developers.
6. Open up the development process to everyone!
7. In the same way Windows and Mac platforms work, make the Xbox itself a dev kit, to increase the accessibility and minimize initial costs for starting developers.
8. Automate all the things, including registration process, distribution agreement, game submission, financial reporting, releasing updates, and price setting.
9. Drop the ESRB in favor of a self-administered rating system.
10. Stop forcing game developers to release avatar content.
You can head over to the original post on the 2D Boy website for a more through analysis, predictions, and colorful charts chock full of science data. In fact, I whole-heartedly recommend you do, as it’s incredibly important to pay attention to developers when they speak up like this.