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Escapist Games Co-Founder Explains XBLIG Abandonment

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In an attempt to find out whether the new dashboard update is causing concern for the independent game makers for Xbox Live Indie Games, I decided to contact some of the developers I have been speaking to over the last twelve months. One of the first people I contacted was San Shepherd co-founder of Escapist Games whom revealed some very interesting information surrounding the demise of the Xbox Live Indie Games platform. Whilst San couldn’t comment fully on the dashboard update, his opinions are those that seem to be reverberating around XNA at the moment with developers becoming ever increasingly disgruntled by Microsoft’s lack of support.

“Sadly, Escapist Games has moved on from XBLIG about a year ago. We had a great time making games for the Xbox 360 as independent developers - the Xbox 360 is a great console and the tools available to developers are exceptional. We’re extremely proud of our titles on XBLIG, and feel that they were some of the first really great games to hit that channel, and we’re proud to stand alongside the other great XBLIG developers that have been putting their balls on the line to make awesome content for the platform.”

Shepherd is no stranger to mainstream development either having worked on SSX 3 and Burnout Paradise to name just a couple of the games he has had hands on with over the last ten years. His proclaiment that Escapist had provided some of the best games on the XBLIG arena is fully justified too. Platypus and Atomhex both scoring exceptional scores on our very own website.

Whilst Microsoft provided excellent tools for development, their support wasn’t so excellent as Shepherd goes on to state;

However, support from MS for the Channel and some of the great games that developers made for it has - since launch - been outrageously poor. As a result we’ve seen sales of XBLIG titles be too low to sustain professional indie development.

Since the abandonment of XBLIG as a viable channel for games development Escapist Games have been developing for the iPhone and iPad to much greater financial reward.

“By contrast, Apple have provided game developers with a fabulous opportunity to bring their content to a huge market - much larger than that of the whole of XBL! In what may come as not too big a surprise, we’re now happily developing for iOS and seeing a lot more in return for our efforts.”
“This is such a shame. We would love to be developing independently for XBLIG. The console is so much more powerful, and the type of content that can succeed on an Xbox is so much more sexy than current gen iOS devices can support. But that is changing and doing so very fast. Unless MS and other console developers take a real hard look at Apple and similar open game development platforms, they will find themselves left very very far behind. To be honest I’m no longer sure they haven’t already missed the boat.”
Whilst not affected wholely by the change in Dashboard from Microsoft Shepherd believes that the focus is very much on the big publishers leaving little space for the independent developers to exhibit their work.
All in all - I think the new XBL Dashboard reflects very clearly where MS thinks the money is at - big publishers. And they are right (for the last couple of years anyway), but the future is going to be very different indeed, and the innovators are already on other more open and more well supported platforms. So yeah I think it sucks! “
We’re sad to hear that we’ll no longer be seeing Escapist Games on the XBLIG arena, they provided some of the greatest games for that platform. Their bold press releases against Bizarre Creations being a noteworthy highlight, ironically Atomhex always was better than Geometry Wars. Hopefully Escapist Games will keep developing for the PC and for those that do not know Platypus II is available to check out, so head over to the Escapist Games website.
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