It’s not like Microsoft is new to the game of shafting small-time developers. Be it Just Add Water’s dilemma when trying for an HD port of Stranger’s Wrath or Introversion’s annoyance at developing titles for Xbox Live (which included complaints about the SDK costing a non-refundable $10,000 USD), it’s safe to say they’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to garnering ill-will.
But what happens when it starts affecting their bread-winner, Windows? Even if it is Windows RT, surely the news that Rubicon, UK developer behind the game Great Big War Game, sold a measly £52 in it’s first week must be upsetting. Especially when Rubicon’s Paul Johnson estimated that it cost them around £10,000 to port it and Microsoft could care less about promoting it.
Writing on the developer blog, Johnson announced that, “A week after release we have made the princely sum of £52 in sales. That’s not a typo. And despite this, and the fact that GBWG is one of only several halfway decent launch titles, Microsoft have confirmed they will not give us any promotional features or help us with visibility in any way.
“If you’re familiar with their new store, this means our app is forever consigned to the garbage bin, presumably earning us less than £52 a week in future. Even if that rate is sustained, it will take just under two years before we recoup the salary paid to the guy who did the port.”
This is especially problematic when you consider that Windows RT doesn’t support the typical program applications of Windows 8 or even legacy programs (i.e. Windows 7 applications), and is entirely reliant on it’s app store for providing applications to its user base. And when you’re doing a shittier job than most of promoting, much less calling notice to those apps, the entire ecosystem eventually suffers.
In contrast, Johnson writes, “Apple regularly promote our apps. Android regularly promote our apps. Even RIM (Blackberry) regularly promote our apps. We enjoy working with those companies and it’s nice to see them acknowledge that we bring them some small amount of additional value to their setup. Firms our size need a bit of a leg up, and we go out of our way to show our gratitude to the above for helping us out in this way from time to time.
Johnson recommended other developers avoid RT, besides stating that Microsoft won’t be seeing another Rubicon title again on their platforms again.
“Microsoft…clearly do not value us at all. Even whilst there’s almost nothing to promote, they will not feature our title for bizarre admin reasons. And this is whilst their store is empty and they need developers like us to fill their store far more than developers like us need them to pay us £50 a week.”
Maybe Johnson should come down to India and pick the Xbox India chief’s brain on the matter?