I didn’t see a thread on this already, which surprised me. Short story: XBLA royalties for 1st party games used to be 70/30 in favor of the developer, now they’re 35/65 (with maybe 45/55 at the high end).
According to this article at joystiq, this ‘reduced rate’ only applies to developers for whom Microsoft is acting as a publisher, fronting costs for ESRB certification, localization, and presumably MS certification, all of which would add up to probably in the range of $50k-$100k as I understand it.
This would functionally make Microsoft the publisher in those cases, and taking half of what would otherwise be the developer/publisher share makes a lot of sense to me.
I don’t see this as halving the revenue as much as MS offering publishing services to expand the range of indie devs who can feasibly get their products onto XBLA.
Yeah, why doesn’t big bad Microsoft lose once in awhile?
Anyway, basically MS seems to be covering the publishing for XBLA games at 35/65 and if you want to pay them for the publishing or publish your own game you can still have your 70/30 right? This seems to be the antithesis of what some people in the thread are trying to make it out to be.
No, I’m suggesting that if this is one of the justifications for a lower dev split, its a bit shaky, because like publishers sometimes do, they could then inflate those costs to be whatever the hell they wanted.
I guess they could do that anyway…
Long live PC gaming.
Is it possible to publish on XBLA without going through MS as your “publisher”?
Yes, if you sign with companies like Vivendi/Sierra Online, Ubisoft and the like, who then happen to be your publisher. Straight self-publishing isn’t possible at this point, IIRC, but that’s probably what the XBL Community Games channel is being made for.
No. 35/65 is the only deal being offered to new developers; you can’t “publish it yourself”. You either go through Microsoft at 35%, or go through a 3rd-party publisher and get like 30% of 70% == 21%, or whatever deal you can manage to eke out.
(I have the old deal, so I am not affected by this … until my next game.)
I also want to try and inject some sanity into the discussion by pointing out that the cost of testing + localization is nowhere near half the revenue for an Arcade title, unless that title totally bombs (like totally bombs). This doesn’t in any way even the deal out. It is just something they are offering to make the situation slightly more appealing, but the truth is that Microsoft just wants to make a lot more money off Arcade games.
Since they control the channel, and they built it, that is sort of their right, but I do think that this will have significant hard-to-predict consequences.
Err… if that’s how the other publishers work it’s still rather hard to paint Microsoft as being ebil here… you’re still getting a bigger cut if they do the work than you would if you were working for a “real” publisher, right?
I also want to try and inject some sanity into the discussion by pointing out that the cost of testing + localization is nowhere near half the revenue for an Arcade title, unless that title totally bombs (like totally bombs).
Define totally bombs? I thought I recall hearing that most games do indeed totally bomb and only a few sell mediocrely and only a handful sell well?
That may be true, but it still means an indie developer (who isn’t publishing through Ubi/Vivendi/Activision/EA/whatever) has to come up with that money. Even if the reduction in back-end take from 70% to 35-45% ends up being more than the $50-100K required for localization, ESRB submission, certification, and so on… if you don’t have that extra $50-100K, you don’t get your game on there.
It is effectively lowering the bar to indie devs, making the game costs pretty much ONLY the cost of making the game, at the expense of getting less money in the long run.
Maybe that’s not a good tradeoff, maybe it is. I suspect it will depend on the indie dev and game in question. The 70% split was probably not sustainable long-term, and most XBLA devs seem to be surprised it went on as long as it did.