Positivity Part 1: Royalties

24 Mar / by: M&R / 24 comments /

Rather than continue to be negative — which apparently only works if you’re a fast-talking British bloke — let’s instead look at what was great about XBLA. Part 1: high royalties.

Why does a high royalty rate matter so much? All it really means is a bit more money for us greedy developers, right?

To quote Alaska senator Ted Stevens, circa two years ago: NO!

Allowing developers to keep the lion’s share of royalties was one of the most striking aspects which set XBLA worlds apart from retail. It was a quantitative difference which enabled a qualitative change in how developers approached making commercial games. It meant that a game didn’t have to sell incredibly well to break even — it could be behind the curve in terms of sales, and still be successful!

Allowing developers the opportunity to be successful with less-than-average sales was one of the most revolutionary aspects of XBLA — perhaps the most revolutionary aspect — certainly the one that created the most opportunity for indie/small developers. Unfortunately not everyone may have realized this, and thus failed to take advantage of such a unique and unprecedented state of affairs.

The main problem we have with retail-level royalties is that they lead directly to retail-level quality — to use a sports analogy, if everyone is always swinging for the fences, they’re going to strike out a lot more often than if they were just trying to get on base. When you need higher-than-average sales to break even, there is more pressure to appeal to absolutely everyone, seeking the lowest-common-denominator, taking no chances, and inevitably pleasing no one. At least, this is one theory for why so many games lack personality/soul/”flava”.

Maybe it’s naive to believe that games will ever overcome Sturgeon’s Law. Maybe it’s unrealistic to think that a giant corporation would be interested in spearheading a paradigm shift in commercial gaming. Maybe it’s stupid to think that professional game developers would ever choose to make something they wanted to make, over something they thought would sell well. Maybe it’s hopelessly optimistic to think that all the people making terrific, weird-ass freeware games on their own time could actually hope to do so on a full-time basis. Maybe it’s borderline communist to think that some day the IP-stealing, price-driving-upping middle-man publishers would be cut out of the equation.

*shrug* Welcome to Metanet Software! Hopefully we aren’t the only ones daring to dream about these crazy possibilities.

comments ( 24 )

  • […] comprak.net wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptMaybe it’s hopelessly optimistic to think that all the people making terrific, weird-ass freeware games on their own time could actually hope to do so on a f ull-time basis…. […]

  • I haven’t even finished reading this post yet (I will, though, in the next few minutes, I promise πŸ˜‰ !) but had to quickly say this: Yahtzee reference FTW!

  • FYI. You guys got a big thumbs-up from Dan on episode 50 of Totally Rad Show.


  • πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  • On note to your last post, Its very true nobody buys theames, i was forced to on account i wouldent buy anything else with my points left after buying n, so i bought the gamer pics:P

  • I hope the higher royalties changes the XBLA system for the better. The problem is in the old system even a crappy port broke even if only a handful of people bought it. Throw minimal effort into it and you’ll sell X copies, and Y rate, you make Z money

    Instead with a lower royalty rate, the game has to shine to break even. Which means people will put in more effort to be unique, and special. Games like N+ are unique and special. As opposed to games like Feeding frenzy which would be great… if we didn’t already have it and a sequel on the PC.

  • =(
    This article makes me sad. Hopefully you guys can continue to “swing” for homeruns =3

  • I blame consumers more than anyone else. If people didn’t buy utter shit, then utter shit wouldn’t get made. Case in point: 50 Cent Bulletproof is getting a sequel. They sure wouldn’t bother if the original didn’t sell 1.6 million.

  • Wow; it sounds like M$ is pleading for developers to move on to the more friendly PSN deal; or abandon consoles for the web portal solution.

  • “Rather than continue to be negative β€” which apparently only works if you’re a fast-talking British bloke…”

    I see what you did there. XD

  • Dear sir & madam,

    Please continue to kick ass.

    Yours in truth &c.,


  • To #6: You’re wrong. Publishers sending crappy shovelware are STILL getting their high royalties. This move wasn’t to raise quality. It was to put control BACK into publisher’s hands while offloading a bunch of maintenance Microsoft didn’t want to do.

    You won’t see better games, less ports and more innovation from this. You’ll just see more rom-emulated shovelware.

  • Call me a commie too, but I think it’s just further proof that we need to push video games as a viable artistic medium on our governments so we can get the same kind of government grants that artists are allowed to get. Right now, the only way to do that is to book a gallery and call it “an interactive installation piece” which is really pushing it. Why can’t art be digitally distributed?

  • Fast talking Brit here…

    See i love being able to play Omega5 on my 360, it comes straight from Japan to me, and it kicks serious ass

    There are also a lot of other games i’m glad i’ve been able to play because of arcade, the mutant storm games for example, great british coding in action what what

    Royalty discussions aside, i don’t understand why you felt the need to dismiss other XBLA games, many of them are good and i’m sure a lot of people spent care and time to bring them over/develop them from scratch…i think of the next releases i’ll be giving the Giraffe some lovin rather than download N+

    Maybe you should have priced it 400 points, i mean Omega, Empire, Switchball, EverydayshooterPSN, retro stuff like Rez & SOTN this is the level we get, people have a choice of good games

    How many times was your game downloaded as a demo vs sales? maybe look at that before throwing your toys out the pram

    Toodle pip!


  • @XBLA dev no more

    nice handle – which game(s) were you involved in that were released on XBLA?

    the wonderful thing about digital distribution is you have newgrounds, steam, and other channels should you not think PSN or XBLA is a great opportunity for you

    what instead we have is people who want to moan….this is how life works, you don’t like it you don’t buy it, you don’t want to do business with someone you partner with someone else, don’t fixate on XBLA if you don’t like it – distribute your game somewhere else and if that’s really a better deal other devs will do the same, and consumers if your products are good will use their PC to download it

    just saying something is shit is entirely unconstructive, the only thing these rants are proving is we now have developers acting like fanboys too

    Have you picked up the phone and tried to communicate these umbrages with anyone at Microsoft? – i’d bet my last pound sterling you’ve not. if not how do you expect to change business relationships without engaging in dialogue with said business? i’m going to ask my landlady for a rent reduction later, yes you guessed it i’m going to post on an amazon product review and hope she sees it

    See i hope people like Capcom have a better deal than most, they probably do, because they probably CALL and/or MEET Microsoft rather than ranting on the net

  • Why have there been no new posts on the IGN blog in over a month?!
    I wanna see those second and third parts of the series!

  • id love 2 no wat u meant by fast talking british bloke, cuz i am british and im fucking proud, i hope u aint bein cock nose and dissin us.

    any who, give us news on N+ map packs and stuff not this type shit, kinda get borin.

  • Oo Wo0dY oO:

    Zero Punctuation, google it.

    And they can’t give us any news on N+ map packs until they’re ready to do so, so just accept that “this type shit” is better than nothing and wait patiently.

    I hope I didn’t come off sounding too hostile or anything, but there really is no need for you to have that kind of tone.

  • there really isnt any need 4 ur tone but u still did it, and i did have a reason as im british and the comment metanet posted is against me, so il do wat i want, and as 4 zero punctuation u fuckin idiot, i talk the way i do cuz tiz faster i cant be arsed 2 spend an extra 10 minutes of my life explainin 2 a fuckin american if u guys can call urself that as ur hole country started from other countries, so ur not even a real country haha, unlike us however who didnt desend from anything but monkeys, lmao, get done.

  • No, seriously. Zero Punctuation. Google it.
    It’s a British guy who does really funny video reviews of various games for The Escapist.

    Or don’t:

    He makes games too:

    See? No one’s making fun of you or your fellow countrymen.

    And Ben Croshaw is only the latest in a line of great British comedians. So be proud of your country, you have every right to be.

  • Why the hell were the DS/PSP versions of N+ delayed another two months plus into the beginning of July? This is very disappointing news.

  • What?!
    When did this happen?

    That’s disappointing.
    We still have heard practically nothing about it, too…. πŸ™

  • A delay? Well damn. Damn, damn, damn.

    Don’t get so upset about us Americans, Woody. We all know we’re stupid since we elected Bush again.

  • what happened guys?

    I guess the server crashed and it was only backed up til April?

Leave a reply