In Defense of the Apparant Shitstorm

22 Mar / by: M&R / 77 comments /

Well, apparently our Gamasutra interview is controversial. Probably we should do what all the professionals have advised us to do, and just stop reading comments — it is the internet after all. But let’s instead take one last stab at dialogue.


First of all, everyone we’ve worked with at Microsoft have been terrific — smart, helpful, bright, and passionate. Obviously we haven’t met everyone working there, but those who were involved in N+ were great to work with. We’re sorry if our criticism of the service hurts them, because we know they’re doing their best. The “most games suck” problem really seems to be a pervasive institutional issue rather than the fault of this or that person.. more on that later.

Secondly: the interview was done before N+ came out.. hence we’re not complaining about our sales. We are surprised and thrilled by our sales — we’re just happy that people are trying N+, and that some of them are enjoying it.

Third: the interview happened about an hour after we found out that the royalty rates for XBLA have been “adjusted” to the point where our whole business plan moving forward was totally shafted.. hence the bitterness.


So: what the hell were we thinking?

We didn’t intend to provoke outrage, we simply spoke candidly. Actually saying what you think rather than being fake in an interview situation is apparently just not done, but don’t shoot the messenger — it’s not our fault that the vast majority of XBLA games suck! Literally every single person we’ve ever spoken with is in agreement on this, and yet it’s apparently shocking for gamers in general to hear (assuming that’s who reads joystiq/kotaku).

If you think back to when these downloadable channels (XBLA/PSN) were announced, they were supposed to be the “anti-retail”: good royalties for all involved, smaller/less “epic” games (quirky ideas which would never have been approved by a publisher), basically a mecca for small teams. In hindsight we were perhaps naive to buy into what was apparently empty marketing speak, however we really believed that something worthwhile and interesting was happening.


Fast forward to now: royalties (allegedly) suck, casual games outnumber proper video games (this will have to wait for a future post for further discussion), the vast majority of titles are “disappointing” (this is perhaps a more politic choice of words than “utter crap”), and small teams are being actively funneled through publishers.


As gamers it was unbelievably depressing for us to try literally 80 games and enjoy less than 8 of them. As we mentioned in the article we no longer bother to try XBLA demos because of this.. we just wait until we hear something good about any given game. So, we’re back in retail-land!

The fact that the channel is glutted with crap IS a real problem that shouldn’t be dismissed. The “diamonds will always stand out” argument doesn’t work when gamers have ceased to pay attention to XBLA due to how badly the last 10 demos they tried sucked.

As developers it was incredibly frustrating to see Nick pitch his game — which is really awesome, but a secret for now — only to be told that “genre X is oversaturated”. It’s only oversaturated because, for example, a piece of crap like Street Trace somehow got in early and is now preventing actually good games from being made. Before you call us arrogant for bad-mouthing another XBLA game, note that in this case it was a direct quote from X360 Magazine UK (“A piece of crap.” [Issue 26, p.118]).


Those who point out that retail has the exact same problem as XBLA are correct — but that doesn’t somehow diffuse our argument, if anything it just reinforces it since XBLA was meant to correct the problems endemic to retail games and that whole shebang. If my soup tastes like garbage, I would hope that the waiter’s explanation isn’t “yes, but most of the food we serve here tastes like garbage”!

This ties in to the larger rant of “why do the majority of games TOTALLY SUCK ASS?”, which is a very complex topic. Certainly everyone is to blame — gamers, developers, publishers, press. Hopefully someone will figure it out before consumers become totally jaded and it’s music-industry-style meltdown time.

We don’t expect everyone to be perfect. We’ve made some crap games ourselves. Making a game that sucks shouldn’t be a big deal — it happens, you learn from it. What is inexcuseable is when you make an utterly crap game, and then RELEASE IT ANYWAY.

What’s even worse is when your job is to decide which games to release, and which games to cancel, and you choose to release, for example, some lightweight neon bunny match-3 and then cancel something interesting like, say, a physics-puzzle-based Thrust-like game.

Also, we should mention that any developers whose games we singled out shouldn’t feel too bad, since we also think that “The New Super Mario Bros” pretty much sucked (especially when compared to SMB3 or SMW), and we didn’t like Halo or Halo2 (haven’t tried 3 yet). So.. take it with a grain of salt? You’re in good company at least. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And, be cognizant of the fact that this is all our (very?) subjective opinion — N+ receives it’s share of poor reviews, too — it’s impossible for any game to resonate with every single person who plays it.

Hopefully we’ll have something good to write about next post — heh. ๐Ÿ˜‰

p.s – we’re not “fanboys” as some have accused.. we just can’t afford a PS3 yet! SSD:HD is pretty crap though, so it looks like Sony aren’t immune either.

comments ( 77 )

  • I don’t feel quite strongly as you towards the whole XBLA situation, but the “adjusted” royalty rates kinda suck I guess (understatement of the day!). I’ve been kinda happy with XBLA so far. I mean, getting games like N+, Rez, Ikaruga (coming soon), Boom Boom Rocket and other great games is, well, great.
    But compared to the service that it could be, overflowing with innovative indie goodness? Yeah, it’s kinda lacking (hey, another understatement!).

  • Don’t even bother to play Halo 3 everyone who isn’t a 13-15 year old boy will tell you it freaking SUCKS

  • Frankly, yours is one of only three or four XBLA games I’ve bought. It’s hilarious that the recently released free XNA games are, on average, way better than the “professional” games available for money.

    PSN is slightly better, and I disagree with your opinion of SSD:HD (which I think is, while not exactly innovative, pretty cool – the same applies to New SMB). But there, too, are tons of crappy titles, some even first-party. Why in the world did Sony think that releasing this Skydiving game was a good idea? I actually paid for this steaming pile of shit, and all it did was make me stop trust Sony’s brand name. I used to think first-party Sony titles were pretty much good by definition. After actually giving them my hard-earned money for this insulting crapfest? Not so much anymore.

    At any rate, thanks for the great game, and thanks for being honest. Hopefully the reaction to your honesty won’t dissuade you from speaking out in the future.

  • xbla games suck agreed.
    xbl managers are clueless.
    charging for themes and gamerpics is the wrong move for xbl, and ps3 is killing em in that regard.
    (ps3 themes and xmbs and sound profiles are free)

  • I read your Gamasutra interview and I reacted pretty harshly agaist some of the views you had and made some agry reactionary posts of my own on Kotaku. I’d like to dial back some of that as I’m sure you’d like to but it’s just better to move on.

    That said, I really do agree with your idea of adding rating as I’ve suggested it when ever it sounded like MS lent an ear that would listen. I’m not sure I agree with the pruning of Live Arcade titles. I think having such a large selection offers something different to every one. The quality of Live Arcade games, however, is about as subjective as you can get. I’ve heard many people list their favorite Live Arcade games and you’d see some overlap but the superset was over %50 of what’s on there. This suggests that the portfolio is rather balanced.

    Clearly, I think that Live Arcade is far from perfect and my of the frustrations you’ve bought to light are great topics that need to be discussed. I just felt disappointed when an developer was calling other developer’s game’s trash when there are few things mechanically wrong with most Live Arcade games (preferences aside).

    I am following this rate change issue closely and I heard that this doesn’t effect people publishing their own games as you guys are. I follow industry issues like this as best as I can despite my lack of access as I’ve been exploring ways to enter into Independent Game Development.

    Congratulations for releasing a fine game on XBLA and I do wish you success. This controversy will eventually blow over so hang in there.

  • Well, most arcade games are shite, i have 27 and i regret buying all of them apart from, N+, Marble Blast Ultra, Eets Chowdown, and switchball, the rest really do piss me off and i would like 2 see games that take a long time 2 make and are excellent 2 play, i mainly play for leaderboards, i like getting the achievements too, but your game has hit every tick that i like and is the best arcade game to date, excellent job.

    I have a few questions, will the new map packs that are coming add to the Overall leaderboards? or is it just something else to play?, and i would like to say how much i really do hate this glitch in N+, its a jump glitch, there is a certain height to how low you can jump, and every time im about 2 get a new best time/WR this glitch happens(and it happens regularly) where i jump so low it barely looks like a jump and i have to restart because an ememy killed me or something, and while this isnt a major thing it is something i hope will be fixed.

    Also will there be any new achievements coming out for N+, so that it goes to 250, because i think it would be a great idea, try and answer those if ya can lads, laters

  • “SSD:HD is pretty crap though”

    wow. you guys suck. that game is phenomenal!

    overall, i totally agree with your point though. theres a lot of shit out there.. and not a lot of people taking chances, creating games that are amazing and fun, but could never exist without the xbla/psn platform.

    just in general, a lot of games aren’t very good, and i don’t think it really comes down to personal taste exactly either. i mean, in some cases, certainly..

    ..but no one likes a shitty framerate, and a crap story is a crap story. terrible gameplay sucks no matter what.. and not all games have enough gameplay to justify the purchase price. those are all problems that i don’t think anyone really… ENJOYS. so games with those problems are just terrible.

    some games, like halo, are good games, that i just don’t like. clearly a game that so many people drool over is doing something right. i don’t like generic fps games, so i can’t even begin to see it. but as far as generic fps games go, apparently its the best of the best.

    you guys better save up and get a ps3.

  • Agreed completely, but that’s probably to be expected. :). As I see it, there’s no point pitching anything anymore that’s not blatantly distinct. ’cause if someone’s heard of it, there’s already a small/casual studio out there doing the XBLA game.

    > …only to be told that โ€œracing games are oversaturatedโ€…
    That’s not all. ๐Ÿ™

  • I totally agree with the idea that Arcade needs to be divided into “Retro” and “Original”. They give indie dev’s a chance to shine, and all that happens is loads upon loads of remakes. They’re really poorly done, too. The Golden Axe remake really stood out to me. It was clunky, gameplay felt like it was mangled, they changed the sounds around for no reason, and they scaled the sprites up for HD or something and the end result is hideous. No shame in the industry! NONE.

  • Congrats on your success with N+.

    However, it is hard to take your issues seriously when you say something like SS:HD is crap.

    Without XBLA, it would have been very difficult for you to make a name for yourselves, let alone money. That is the fundamental truth. Additionally, it is well known that the certification process is extremely difficult. I’d be a little more careful about what you say next time.

    Best of luck with your future games!

  • I just wanted to say first that I am loving N+. Itis strange, but about a month or two before N+ released on the XBLA, I had stumbled upon it on the net. To sum it up quickly, I thought it was cool, and so did my girl, but I for one cannot stand to play games with a Keyboard or mouse.

    So that was the end of my N experience at the time. I probably played 1 or two levels.

    Skip forward to the day it released. I downloaded the demo and played through the tutorial stages, then the available single player stages, and proceeded to turn it off. I wasn’t impressed. I said I would not buy it. Then the girl comes over and wants to check out the XBLA version of the game. I watched her play though the tutorial levels and available single player levels, and I was now wanting to play. Later on I played through the tutorials, then single player levels again, at which point I simply HAD to purchase N+.

    I don’t know how to explain it. I have a few friends hooked on it, while another hates it.

    I love it. Cleared every episode, plus the expert challenges. Got all the achievements. I need more.

    As for the topic at hand, I agree that there is a lot of **** on the XBLA. I think the new arrivals section helps games get noticed.

    Thank you for such an awesome game. If you actually read this I have a request! Longer level names in the editor! Also I really hope there is a way to share maps a little easier in the future. I have been trying to play with as many people as I can to get more and more maps to play. When I can’t find anyone I make my own. Even if you allowed people to share their maps, I would still buy any and all map packs released by you!

    To all the haters, go play Boogie Bunnies and get away from me!

  • It’s great to hear you try and clean up a disaster interview. Unfortunately, your original comments plus this attempt at trying to backpedal sounds like nothing but a bad attitude. As people have mentioned, not all games are going to be liked, but rather than badmouth everything, at least be constructive about what works and what doesn’t. It all just sounds like sour grapes to me. Let your game do the talking. The last thing you want to do is sound like that guy from FASA studios and the Shadowrun saga…

  • I don’t think you guys need to apologize or need to explain yourselves beyond the original article. you simply said what MANY of us have been thinking, but have not had the opportunity to voice it.

    the problem here though is, that you can’t argue with success – I, personally, don’t understand why NASCAR is so popular (all those left turns) or WWE wrestling continually outpulls NHL hockey in TV ratings, but it’s a fact of life. those games like TMNT or UNO are on XBLA because consumers keep buying them.

    Microsoft of course, is not a charity and not in the business of losing money, so supporting Indy only games on XBLA when you have overhead to support doesn’t make sense either.

    Maybe somebody could create a not for profit “Indy Channel / publishing label” on XBLA or PSN that is supported by some of the wealthier indy developers or some generous publishers. now THAT would be cool.

  • I hope I’m not the only one who found your honest commentary refreshing. It’s a rare gem to find an interview where publishers are getting called out.

    Like you mentioned, I think XBLA is given far more credit then due because it was the first complete online experience on a console. The desire to download and play games without leaving the living room has been steady growing since the Dreamcast went online.

    It’s readily evident in Uno’s million+ sales. Who could expect over a million XBLA sales of Uno? Although Uno on the 360 is very well done, the sales are less of a testament to the quality of the game and more of a demonstration that there were over a million people waiting to download a game, any game, to justify their Xbox live accounts.

    The first 10-20 games introduced to XBLA to had almost guaranteed sales because of this. Unfortunately, that had led to the idea that these remakes sell and will continue to sell. The marketplace is glutted with hasty remakes that will sink the service once the novelty wears off.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if within a year or two, XBL has almost no any original games and is instead mostly driven by tv/movie downloading, retail game demos, a few microtransaction based games, and has many social networking style features a la Facebook.

    The thought is depressing given how well “gamers” received the service and how excited developers became at the thought of putting out smaller, quirkier games.

  • I hope that you guys continue to speak frankly about your experiences in the future. It was refreshing to read your very honest perspective about XBLA. People are too afraid of backlash nowadays, and self-censorship is something that happens all too often.

    Most of the people who are writing those negative comments are not in the games industry, and have no idea what they are talking about. People should be listening and learning from what you’re saying, rather than dismissing and criticizing it.

    Keep up the great work. N+ is truly one of the best games I’ve played in awhile.

    – Cracksmith

  • Hopefully the recently announced XBox Live Community Games service will be what everyone hoped Live Arcade would be.

    I like the submit anything and let the good shit bubble to the top idea.

    Here is some good info if you haven’t heard about it:

  • Yup, shutting your mouths would be great. K? Thx.

  • I read it and inspite of me helping out at an XBLA fansite. I have to agree with you guys there are a lot of shit. I myself have bought a lot of shit on the service that winds up only getting played for an hour (if that). There are some great titles in there like Marble Blast Ultra and Band of Bugs, but like you said too much crap to wad through.

    I do think you guys have earned the right though as N+ is phenomenal.

    What I don’t get is how the racing category is saturated at all there are like ZERO racing games on there.
    – Street Trace – mediocre ripoff of Trickstyle
    – Novadrome – SHIT
    – Mad Tracks – more of a party game than a racing game. I enjoyed playing this with my buddies in some couch matches.
    – Yaris – SHIT
    – Gripshift – how is this in the racing category? it has more in common with Marble Blast Ultra or N+. It’s a puzzle game. Pretty good too at higher difficulty levels. The demo was shit though.

    The future games of Kart Attack and ToW look pretty promising though, but there is very little in the space. I’m disappointed your buddies game didn’t get greenlight.

  • I don’t mind the very true sentiment being portrayed here, but I do think it’s a little unfair to be shitting on pretty much all XBLA games and be undeniably proud of something like N+.

    In fact, if XBLA didn’t have such “low” standards, do you think that anyone in their right mind would let a game like N+ actually be released? You mentioned Street Trace and yeah it may be a terrible game – but my goodness the game has characters, textures, a 3D engine, weapons, etc. It’s a shitty game but at least they put some effort into it.

    You guys sit on your high horse with your “artsy” game design with a little stick figure running around monochromatic abstract levels jumping around and collecting things and suddenly everyone else’s products are shit? Yeah, your game plays great, but there’s so little to it besides its overly simplistic design that shitting on other games that fail while trying to deliver more is rather petty and unnecessary.

    It reminds me of Jeff Minter, who upon unveiling his ridiculous Space Giraffe, was bitching because more people were playing Frogger.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that you guys are making interesting, artsy, fun games. And XBLA is still slowly becoming a great place for them. But don’t go talking about how other games are totally shit when yours looks like demo pitch material by comparison to most of them. It’s easier to focus on a great game when all you have to worry about is animating a 2-D stick figure in gray blockland.

    Be fair.

  • I think it’s a bit pointless to complain about this or that game or % of games being crap. Someone believes that a given game has an audience, and develops / approves it. After spending money on it, it’s logical business decision to release it even if it’s not that hot; getting a bit of money back is better than getting none!

    As you say, the issue is not the games that (crap or not) are developed for XBLA. The real problem is the games that AREN’T, either because they aren’t approved or because their developers don’t believe they’ll make good business there. But is there a business case in a different model?

    I think that are full-fledged social approach like Amazon and its ratings and its “people who bought this also bought X and Y”, and a more flexible pricing scheme (up to the developer) would be great. If quirky and strange games still don’t make money in such environment, then too bad, but at least it would be purely up for the buying gamers to decide.

    But such approach would generally lead to more customers satisfied (because they have a better idea of what games to look for), better opportunities for developers (because there’s no artificial filtering), and therefore to a more profitable business for Microsoft and the developers who choose XBLA as their platform.

  • Some of you think this post is backpedaling?! hardly. It’s simply a more-rational clarification/explanation of the same points we made in the interview.

    Though, Raigan does regret swearing so much in the interview, since it sort of detracts from whatโ€™s actually being said..

    In any case, we definitely agree that something more constructive would be a beneficial addition to this sort of rant. There are some good ideas here, and there’s certainly plenty of opportunity for growth in downloadable games in general. More on this soon…

  • I quickly found out it does not take the utterance of much at all to be “controversial” in the gamer press. Before getting into the industry, my background was in entertainment newspapers and punk fanzines, where there is actually a reader expectation of CONTENT in any given interview. Like, you know, you ask a question, and i answer it. Or vice versa. These are like the thoughts of revolutionary firebrands as far as the game industry goes, you might as well just fill in a few blanks in a standard form: “_____________ are very happy that we have partnered with ___________ to release _________________ on the ______________” Bah.

  • John’s post, #19 made me laugh… out loud… like an lol.

    PS: hi.

  • Honestly, I completely agree with you guys and your rant. While I don’t believe EVERY game on XBLA is crap, I honestly was expecting more “indie”-type games rather than lame retreads of 30 year old “classics”. I bought N+ and love the game. This is the kind of stuff I really was hoping to find on the service for $10. Games like N+, Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, Assault Heroes, Puzzle Quest…these are great games that I love to see as examples of what XBLA can be. Games like Frogger, Asteroids, TMNT, and the numerous Zuma clones are hogging the spotlight. I’m glad you guys are calling out Microsoft for backpedalling on what the service was originally supposed to be about. And it sucks that they are effing you guys on the royalties. I’m getting pretty damn pissed by it all. It’s a shame because then great ideas like yours will go somewhere else, and all I have is my 360.

  • […] their response blog titled “In Defense of the Apparant Shitstorm”, Burns and Sheppard stand behind their […]

  • […] their response blog titled “In Defense of the Apparant Shitstorm”, Burns and Sheppard stand behind their […]

  • If I were to compare how controversial this is, it would put the OJ Simpson trial to shame.

    As for Mare and Raigan, they preach truths here. Lead us with your knowledge.

  • Hey. YOUR GAME is crap. The demo was immediately deleted from my system after I realized you made the game to run in Windows 95 Dos. Don’t comment on the story any more N+ Developers (I don’t even care what you call yourselves), no one wants to hear your fat lips.

  • Well, you might as well enjoy your priviledged position. The only people who are allowed to diss NSMB are the people who’ve made better 2D platformers, i.e. Nintendo and you, so go for it.

    But please, now, stop reading these comments and get working on making sure the DS version doesn’t suck!

  • I think you guy’s most be NOOBS in this industry… Because every single platform, every single game distribution model is composed of crappy games and good games.

    So how about a nice cup of shut the f&ck up?

  • i totally agreed with you guys on xbox live acard is trash. i havent brought more than 3 games from and so far there seem to be nothing else coming that look great.i will be picking up n+ if its ever come to ps3. i do have a question for you guys are you guys working on a ps3 game?

  • @28 i know u one of those dam fanboys i hate them so dam much xbox fanboy are so blind to what is right in front of them one crappy system for a crappy download service rrod once one me.Anyway keep up the good work and please make a ps3 game.

  • Anyone who got upset about your original comments wasn’t listening. You only spoke truth.

    I don’t suck up, I just tell it like it is. And the facts stand behind what you said. XBLA has too many games, and most suck. People put out too many weak games, and Microsoft has no standards to what they accept. It was fine to have low standards before when we wanted a game every week. Now we’d settle for a good game every month, rather than 5 subpar games every month (n+ is not in that group).

    Problem is in the game industry, there’s no “loss” if you don’t ship the game you don’t make the money. So unless you deliver and ship a game, your company doesn’t get a check from the publisher. So you have to ship crap. The publisher paid for it, but can recoop some losses, so they ship it. And microsoft realizes someone will buy it so they throw it on their service.

    Hopefully Microsoft’s taking more money from the royalties will mean better games are made, maybe not, but maybe so.

    And don’t discount casual games, Though I wish there was less ports overall. The ones that still get me is retro ports. That’s why we have Wiis… the 360 should have stuff that uses the true power of the system.

  • Well… first let me applaud you for your honesty. Regardless of how I feel about your comments or your game, it is nice to see a developer speak their mind.

    Unfortunately, it also puts you into the same category as David Jaffe and Tomonobu Itagaki, which is to say developers whose mouths far outstrip their abilities. Perhaps you’ll hold off on the shit-talking until you can release a game that’s more than polished homebrew? Or failing that (I know it can be hard to keep quiet) at least stick to shit-talking games that are worse than yours? You’re welcome to shit-talk all you’d like just make sure you’ve earned it first. With N+… you’ve earned the ability to shit-talk homebew and XNA Creator’s Club games all you’d like (though in fairness, Jelly Car and Dishwasher were both far more enjoyable/playable than N+… so maybe just stick to shit-talking homebrew for now…)

  • You guys are my new heroes, I haven’t been on Live in a bit but the last demo I grabbed was N+. To have someone speak to the gaming public as regular people and not some stuck up, two-bit marketing shills is a breath of fresh air. I’m getting on Live tonight and purchasing N+ to further support your company. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I pretty much agree with everything you said. I appreciate that you took the time to explain your response in the interview since, to be honest, it made you look like a pair of twats. Now I respect your opinion and even agree with much of it.

    What I’d really like to hear, is what games on XBLA you actually like. You’ve listed plenty of games you hate, which makes me even more interested in which games meet your approval.

  • I must say, that whilst I don’t feel as strongly as you do against XBLA (you have worked under it, and probably have a much better understanding than I do which probably backs it up), what I will say is that XBLA is bad in terms of what games are released.

    I go on there to play fun innovative games with a low price tag and rather small games. XBLA as a whole definatley has the latter, but what of fun and innovative? Sur4 I can buy pacman and ms pac man for cheap (why I’d want it is beyond me), but the playtime would be less than an hour before hating myself.

    Out of my 2 years of owning my xbox 360 and xbox live, I have bought ***3*** xbox live arcade games. Alien Hominid, Geometry wars and N+. Each offers long replayability, exceptional quality, innovative style and gameplay and they are all rather cheap ($10!).

    And this isn’t to suck up or anything, but out of the 3, N+ has already recieved the most playtime. How? I’ve had my friends over and we’ve played this game on coop for 6 hours straight on a few occasions. That and I can play it on my own, or online or spend a few hours designing levels. THIS is quality worht paying money for. Something I can’t say about the other game on XBLA.

    I just hope the cut back on royalties for you guys isn’t too significant that it hurts development of future games. As if N+ is anything to go by, you guys are already better than 99% of XBLA devs.

  • N+ is better than 90% of the games released on all three ‘next-gen’ systems. Probably more like 95%.

    I love the comment that “sure such and such arcade sucks, but at least they tried to make it 3D!”

    Are you fucking kidding me? That kind of thinking is what is destroying the industry. Like when Sony didn’t want 2D games made for the PSP. HELLO!!!! That is all I fucking wanted!

    I would rather have an amazing 2D game like N+ than a piece of shit that tired to be 3D and failed at everything.

    It is sad to think that there are people who think this way that consider themselves ‘gamers’. I still haven’t finished Lost Odyssey because of N+. And I was loving Lost Odyssey. N+ just has some other quality that doesn’t exist in most other games.

    Please do not listen to idiotic comments like some of the above. Keep making incredible games like N. There is a beauty in something so simplistic. Not only that but N+ is so incredible without even having a story, cinemas, or any other gimmick that has been shoved into every other game since the Dreamcast.

    Gameplay should come before anything else. N has gameplay in spades. It is pure gameplay. That is why it is an amazing game. Oh and the music ****ing rules. I am worried that the PSP version won’t have the same music and I will have to find a way to get it in there!

    Thank you so much, again, for N+ and all your efforts. For me, this game will go down in history as a real gem. I could see playing it for many years with only new episodes to play. Thank you.

  • Thank you for the initial interview. Thank you for this follow up commentary on the “shit storm”.

    I have some issues with N+ (some incredibly frustrating), but it has many redeeming features. Most crap on XBLA doesn’t. I own like 5 games for it, and I have a stack of unused MS points because I just can’t find anything worth spending them on (and I’m not too keen on just wasting them on crap like pictures and skins).

    It’s disappointing waiting for the good games that you know are on the way and then seeing crap like Bliss Island and that Brain Age rip off popping up. Hell, I don’t even think anything new was released last week.

  • […] their response blog titled “In Defense of the Apparant Shitstorm”, Burns and Sheppard stand behind their […]

  • I don’t agree with the statement about SSD:HD. There is crap on PSN but SSD:HD is far from crap. I would have been with you if you would have mention the Go! Sports games. They are crap, but they seem to be experienting with the motion controller.

    But look at Everyday Shooter, the PixelJunk series, High Velocity Bowling, Flow, and PAIN. There are a good bit of games that seem like “quirky ideas”.

    Sony also seems to give game their time as they already usually releasing games every week.

    I was hoping to see N+ on PSN, so get with Sony and bring it over.

    Just a note, I don’t have a 360, but I do like a few of the games on XBLA. Besides N+, Undertow looked interesting, I would probably get UNO, I’m dying to see Prince of Persia on PSN, and I used to spend a lot of money on TNMT back in the day (don’t like the border though).

    The PSN also extends to the PSP, so how bout a downloadable version of N+ for the PSP/PS3.

  • I meant, Sony also seems to give games their time on the PSN alone since they usually don’t release new games every week. That way your game doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of new content.

    I used to hate that, but now I understand. Give a game it’s own time to shine.

  • […] In Defense of the Apparant Shitstorm [Metanet] […]

  • I totally agree that gameplay comes first and it should be the most important aspect of a game. But more complex games, which are more ambitious from the beginning – and may include 3D worlds and characters with lighting, textures, FX, stories, etc, have much more of a chance of being of poorer qualities because it is much more difficult to get a game like that to work flawlessly than it would be for a game like N+.

    And I’m not crapping on the game itself because the game itself is great. However, it’s simplistic to the point where it looks unfinished. And if you’re going to be talking trash about the majority of works of other aspiring developers, you’d better be prepared to answer to the shortcomings of your own software as well, even if they are primarily on the aesthetic side of things.

    I greatly look forward to the future games these guys put out – but hopefully by that time they can afford art and sound departments to go along with the already strong programming / design departments they already have. And at that point they could more substantially back up their claim of being a gem swimming in a sea of shit.

  • The “we liked 8 of 80 games” is proof of the arrogance of this argument.

    My favorite on XBLA will be different than others. Frankly, i thought n+ was boring.

    Are they going to say that N+ is another example of “suck”? I doubt it.

    The royalty issue is another matter. MS is tryign to move the publishing to 3rd parties – what is wrong with this?

  • You guys are certainly entitled to you own opinions, but I too find it hard to take you seriously when you call games like New Super Mario Bros and Super Stardust HD crap. NSMB was too easy, sure, but it was a very enjoyable game. And what’s wrong with SSDHD? It’s a great game. And I find it a bit sad that you claim there is too much crap crowding independant devs on these online services and then turn around and bash a great game like SSDHD… which was developed by an independant developer. It sounds like the only people you are really concerned about is yourselves.

  • […] Via MetanetSoftware […]

  • Your favorite band sucks!

  • *independent

  • You are absolutely correct about the XBLA games. In 2 years I’ve liked 2 games —N+ and Rez. The rest lose my interest in minutes. Thats not your fault! Thanks for being honest.
    This world has gotten so ridiculously PC that no one can make an honest comment anymore. Its become the standard to lie just to keep things from becoming s***storms. I wish we’d all just wake up and realize its OK to be HONEST about who, what or where you like or dislike!! That we should be trampled for having an opinion is absurd –damn!


  • I think the main problem stems from business suit type people making gaming decisions. Ever since I joined the gaming world by stealing a NES from KMart, I played stupid azz game after stupid azz game. I then quickly learned what is a good game and what game sucks. So when the SNES came out… games got to the point that some were not even worthy of renting. Similar to how XBLA games are not even worthy of downloading and playing a free demo.

    Then you have huge publishers like EA that buy up the market only to push out recycled garbage (madden) and for some stupid reason gamers buy them up like hot cakes.

    So basically all a gamer can do is what for new IP games and check those out while staying away from sequels that are just carbon copies (halo 3) of the previous version.

  • “As gamers it was unbelievably depressing for us to try literally 80 games and enjoy less than 8 of them.”

    I don’t really understand where that comes from. I agree, XBLA has some shitty games, but I’ve always thought it just didn’t fit my taste. I have about 15-20 bought XBLA games and I’ve been gaming for about 25 years to date. I play all kinds of games regularly (collecting board games and stuff) and also work as a game designer in the industry.

    I love that the demos are mandatory for XBLA titles since I can just try the game out and buy it if I like it. I don’t have to go to web and read reviews, i can just try them out. Everyone of the 15-20 games I’ve bought has been great and well worth the money.

    And about UNO being the best seller? What’s so weird with that? It didn’t surprise me at all seeing that loads of casual gamers have flocked into the XBLA (Pretty much every game developer I know has a wife hooked on XBLA because of the more casual game titles and that’s preventing those said developers from trying out the new rainbow six and so on).

    I don’t see the XBLA situation as being so bleak. Games there still sell, you don’t need an enormous team or millions of dollars to do a game for it and especially with a strong IP, you’re pretty good to go. My gripe is with the overall clunkiness of the XBox Dashboard and especially here in Europe there’s just too much clutter that amounts to nothing (the void that is community videos and similar sections of the dashboard).

  • […] policies with Xbox Live Arcade has lead to much thrashing of teeth, enough for Metanet to post a defense of their words. So what’s all the commotion about? It centers around one specific quote where […]

  • You guys suck.

    Why are you calling out a game like SS:HD and calling it ‘crap’ just because you don’t like it?

    OK, let me say that N+ is the biggest steaming pile of horsesh*t I have EVER laid my eyes on. I can’t believe MS allowed you fools to release such a POS game. I hope MS boots your ass off the island and you can go release your crappy games on shareware

  • Candid maybe, but equally refreshing, honest and articulate.

    You’ll need to continue the damage control, though, you come across as complete asshats in that interview IMO.

  • I’m glad you said what you said, not because it is true (which, in my opinion, it is) but because I probably would never have heard of N+ otherwise. Like you, I don’t even think about XBLA games unless I hear something good about it. Then I’ll go check it out. So I appreciate the controversy because now I get to enjoy your game.

  • I wanted to offer my support to you for speaking your mind, being candid, as you say. While you could have said the same thing while being more conscientious of your choice of words, I can’t really fault you, as I’ve been equally rash in the past. Anyway, we really need more candid views in this industry, as exemplified by the whole Gamespot/Kane & Lynch thing a few months ago. So I just want to say “mad props” for the candidness and for the great game.

  • Oh, wanted to add a point; Maybe put your game on Steam. Audiosurf, another indie game, managed to shine through as a top seller for nearly a whole month.

  • Man. XBLA needs an overhaul in so many ways it isn’t even funny.

    I think your courage to speak out will certainly encourage others. I think XBLA is fixable. Alas, I don’t know of any way that criticisms can reach the ears that really need to hear it. Like I doubt MS will read what I’ve written about fixing XBLA. ;P

    Come on Microsoft, clean up your act.

  • Do what Gerry, John (kuddos man, I couldn’t believe I’d hear something so retarded since the first days of the Playstation – nice demonstration of backpedalling as well) and Baylor say: shut up, put lots of 3D and textures, forget about the essence of design, and bow before the publishers, no matter who they are.
    You should not say aloud what a lot of people think.
    There’s no controversy, just a bunch of stuck ups being threatened in their very foundations.

    Seriously, you don’t have to excuse yourselves. Don’t be afraid of the legions of dogooders. You’re merely criticizing people who are paid much more than you to run a system which is already showing some fatigue.
    And yes, there’s a lot of shite on XBLA.

    Hey, you’re lucky, you have made a game at least. I mean, otherwise, you’d have gotten the equally moronic reply “then do one if you don’t like them!” in spades. ๐Ÿ™‚

    If indies can’t open their mouth and give fingers, who can? Geez.

    Besides, bravo for your first step in marketing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • […] let their two cents be known here. Alot of folks were shocked and outraged, so they let some more thoughts out in an attempt to defend their […]

  • As a local Canadian hero would say:

    I’ve got two words to say about XBLA… Fuck you and fuck off.

  • Hello Fellow Ex-Flipcoders,

    Congrats on getting your game published on Live. I’m kinda on the fence with my take on your interview. On one hand, Yaris, Bliss Island, many games on XBL are crap. My sailing game (not on XBL) is crap…but your N+ is no Tetris. Sorry.

    I played it last night, gave it 45 minutes of my time, then nuked it. It’s Jumpman. So you’re guilty of much of what you detest in your interview. Prior to playing your game, I was going to give you kudos. But…as you can see, it’s not so good to be the pot calling the kettle black.

    I hope that you’re not taking the approach of “any publicity is good publicity” and that you were indeed candid…which was very refreshing. But at the same time, you can’t pull a Mark Eckos and say your game is better then the rest, and then not deliver. It’s just bad business.

    Good luck, though. I hope a lesson is learned from this for us indies (aka we should really stick together since 90% of ALL games are crap)!

  • […] has since clarified their position a bit by saying that the people they worked with at Microsoft were good, and that they […]

  • I think that the problem isn’t that “there are too many crap games”, as many people’s opinions of what is or is not crap will vary (I love Grip Shift and Space Giraffe and even quite enjoyed Mad Tracks). The problem is that they’re still too heavy in user interfacing terms.

    How does YouTube get around the problem of most videos being crap? It has all kinds of ratings systems, true, but the most important fact is that if you don’t like a video, you just click a single button and a different video starts instantly. Whereas on ANY of the existing game publication systems, you have to go and download, and wait, and then navigate through a bunch of menus..

    Make a demo-playing harness that’s something like WarioWare with more substantial games, and you might have something more scalable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • […] a while back but only published a few days ago, and has provoked a bit of controversy. They explain on their blog: the interview happened about an hour after we found out that the royalty rates for XBLA have been […]

  • […] have to agree with the N+ developers that LIVE is suffering from a glut of not-great titles, burying the gems in a sea of mediocrity. […]

  • I own more than 50 games on xblarcade making this the most games ive owned on any console, it is full of crap but also full of goodness (like anything)

    you cant expect anything to be full of just a+ material things dont work like that. you have the freedom to dicide what games you like and enjoy.. and i tell u on the surfice n+ looks like huge piece of crap but after playing the demo for a while i was hooked

    i wouldnt want to get a refund on any of the xblarcade games i have and the comments made by n+ developers have made me sad to think this might b used in ps3 fanboys arguements or other developers not to jump in. its the best gaming distrubtion out there because it gives u the choice of what u like, giving you retro games that you might not have seen the 1st time round and indie games to get new experiences

    name any piece of crap on arcade and ill give you gold for every street trace there is an n+ for every bliss island theres a castlevania,

    i think everyone that thinks arcade is crap do some exploring get a free demo… start with switchball and workbackwards

    n+ might have good indie developers behind it but they talk alot of crap

  • I’m sorry, I’d rather play a good portion of those ‘crappy’ games as you put it, then play your piece of crap game I couldn’t stand after about 5 minutes of the demo. You think you’re hot shit because your game has sold so well since it’s come out? Apparently others don’t if games like TMNT are still in the top 10 list. And the fact that I enjoyed some of those XNA demos more than N+ kinda poos on you too. You really come off as some crybabies because retro games sell more than yours does. Well here’s a tissue little baby, go wipe your runny nose.

  • It seems you guys aren’t allowed to have your own opinion… even this following nugget in your post wasn’t enough to deter the moaners (or they simply chose to ignore it):

    “And, be cognizant of the fact that this is all our (very?) subjective opinion โ€” N+ receives itโ€™s share of poor reviews, too โ€” itโ€™s impossible for any game to resonate with every single person who plays it.”

    To hell with them I say. Have faith their immaturity won’t spread and keep sharing your honest, subjective opinion with those who appreciate it.

  • Listen you retards….

    While you do make some good points the fact of the matter is that if you guys had half a F*****’ brain you would realize that every console released has had their share of “crap” games.

    Oh yes the PS2 did well…. but do you want to know how much manure or shit you had to dig your hand in the basket to find golden nuggets like Final Fantasy or God of War or GT5??! That’s a lot of hand washing there my friends!!

    It is no different with ANY console whether it is from retail or digital distribution. I could see if you guys released awesome games one after the other but you have no say except for your bullcrap N+

    See how that works? I just said N+ sucks….just the way you said SSD: HD sucks (LMAO….yeah right….sure SSD:HD sucks). I dare you to say that N+ is better than SSD:HD.

    Do you see where I’m going? Opinions are like a**h****…..everyone has one and they stink! What YOU may think sucks another may find to be great.

    ……oh and once again when you said that SSD: HD sucks right there told me that you guys have absolutely no clue what the heck you’re talking about. Sure it’s an opinion but I trust you that you will be in the minority.

    As one person already stated your whole rant and comments about XBLA all sounds like sour grapes because you’re upset about the roylalties that MS changed. You guys sound like whining 5-year olds that just had their lollipops taken away. JUST STFU.

  • ….how old are you guys? I hope you guys aren’t referring to the old classics on the arcade as crap like pac-man frogger or joust! Why? Because these games were great back in the good old days!!

    …and anyone including metacrap software that says that those games are crap must be a moron or were born just yesterday and know nothing about the games. If it is the latter reason well….then there is nothing that can be done about it……and if it is the former reason…..well guess what…. there is nothing you can do about it lol.

    The bottom line is that all consoles/platforms have crap games including the Wii, xbox 360, xbox, PC, PS3, PS2, N64, Gamecube, NES, Super NES, Intellivision, Colecovision, Atari 2600, 7800. ALL OF ‘EM had crappy games mixed with good ones. No company is perfect including metanetsoftware. So please stop acting like you guys are Gods or something.

    All you guys sound like is a bunch of cry babies who had their royalty checks “adjusted” by MS. This is the only reason you made the comments that you did because you were mad! So low class! Don’t get me wrong everyone has an opinion but it is the TIMING of your opinion that stinks. I mean you said it yourself. It happened after you found out about the royalty check changes….WOW.

    Check out this scenario:

    Timmy loves his daddy and can’t stop saying good things about him….

    Timmy: I love you daddy! You are the best!
    Daddy: Timmy I need to take that candy bar from you because it is too much…

    Timmy: No daddy….NO!
    Mommy: What’s wrong Timmy?!
    Timmy: I hate daddy! He stinks and he is ugly! I want candy!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

    Please somebody call the WHAAAmbulance for metanetsoftware!

  • It’s kind of ironic the above two posters accusing M&R of being childish… well, let’s just say that voicing concern in a well reasoned and thought out manner is a lot more mature than attacking someone for speaking their mind.

  • The funny thing about all of this is that, as consumers, these guys are indicative of the problem and might not even realize it. The real problem isn’t that most XBLA games are shit (although of course they are, 90% of everything is shit), it’s that consumers make no effort to determine which is which, and rewarding the good games.

    Quality does not determine success on XBLA, *simplicity* does. This is why retro games, Uno, and N+ do better. People are lazy and don’t like figuring out things, least of all demos. When the guy in the interview says “I died a couple times in Space Giraffe and then quit,” that’s what I mean. Triggerheart Exelica is probably the deepest game on all of XBLA, but how many people know this? Probably not even 1% of the people who even played the demo.

    Of course you can have deep games which are crap and simple games which are good, so this is just to explain why bad games can be popular. Again, this is a systemic thing so it’s not like anything can be done about it anyway. But it does mean that devs that care about sales should focus on simplicity over everything else, including game quality, which is unfortunate.

  • Hello,

    This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

    Can I use some of the information from your blog post right above if I give a link back to your site?


  • Uh… sure? Not sure if this is a spam due to the “buy-kinect” URL.

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