Jonathan Blow, the outspoken creator of XBLA hit Braid, has criticised the amount of Microsoft red tape indie developers have to fight through to release their games on the publisher's digital platform.
Talking about his upcoming game The Witness, Blow told Gamasutra he doesn't need Microsoft to make his money back on the project - which has an estimated budget of $2 million - as he feels that could be "safely" achieved through Steam and iPad alone. "Like, it's not even a gamble to say that," he said.
"... They just kind of make themselves a pain in the ass," he said of Microsoft. "I don't think that they understand that, at least for that size of game, they're competing very heavily with Steam and iOS for developer mindshare.
"... If you make an XBLA game, the amount of bullsh*t that adds is gigantic. It can take a third to a half of the effort required to build your game, in some cases, and I don't think that they understand that.
"I can live a comfortable life, and just put my game on Steam without that much of a hassle," he continued. "or I can have the XBLA business people dick me around and give me asshole contracts that I need to spend three months negotiating back to somewhere reasonable... And then have all these arguments with them and go through this horrible cert[ification] process. It's like, at some point, the question 'Why should I do that?' arises.
"We just had Terraria on Steam... not to mention Minecraft, which doesn't even need Steam. So even the argument that XBLA is the biggest market is starting to come into question. I don't know how much longer that that can go without something changing. I don't know. Maybe quite a long time, knowing the abilities of these companies."
Blow admitted, however, that Microsoft's digital platform is still important to developers like himself. "XBLA does have a big audience, and it's still probably bigger than Steam for certain kinds of games."