Introversion Software says Microsoft's development fees make indie games an impossible sell on consoles.
Introversion Software has been working on its latest title Prison Architect for a while now but, although it dreams of taking its game to Steam, an Xbox release isn't on the agenda. Introversion's co-founder Mark Morris says that's because he remembers what it was like trying to strike a deal with Microsoft over Darwinia+, and doesn't want to repeat that costly experience.
Microsoft's development kit, a $10,000 entry fee, is well beyond Introversion's ability to pay. "It's ridiculous," says Morris, "and it's non-refundable once you've bought it. You've got to pay ... I think our quality assurance bill was $30,000 for testing with Darwinia+, and it took four years to get the game certified to a standard that Microsoft wanted." Sales didn't justify the expense, particularly not when compared to the PC version's sales figures.
Morris went on to claim that indie developers were second class customers, as far as the console makers are concerned. He lamented that Microsoft and Sony insisted on having first release rights and exclusive content for indie games, particularly given that the indie console market didn't justify that kind of outlay in time or money.
"If they want to work with us," Morris concluded, "and if they want indie games on their systems, they're going to have to change quite a lot to make it attractive."
Prison Architect, the world's first lock-em-up, is currently in alpha, and can be had via the developer's site.