Oddworld Dev Praises Microsoft’s Indie Policy, “Spencer Is More Like Yoshida Than Don Mattrick”

Oddworld Inhabitants president Lorne Lanning talks about the current state of ID@Xbox.

Posted By | On 06th, Nov. 2015 Under News


Xbox One_ID@Xbox

Though both companies have touted their AAA releases over the past few months, Microsoft and Sony continue to pursue strong indie policies on the Xbox One and PS4. The benefits have been numerous, especially for Microsoft since it changed its once draconian indie policies to the more agreeable ID@Xbox and bragged about the unique experience it brings.

The question is: How do the developers view it? GamingBolt spoke to Oddworld Inhabitants president Lorne Lanning about ID@Xbox and his thoughts on how it compares to Sony’s indie policies. Are there any similarities between the two at this point?

“I think they put the right people in play. Let’s just start there. I think that was a smart move. Phil Spencer’s been at Microsoft a long time. His whole career he’s been at Microsoft. As a lifer he’s seen a lot. And he’s been with Xbox, basically since the beginning of it. He’s seen all this happen and he’s gotten familiar with developers. He’s had different roles in the company. He’s more like a Shuhei Yoshida than a Don Mattrick in that respect. Someone who’s lived in the company for almost their entire career.

“They have loyalty to it but they also want to see it win. They’re not just there for the big stock payout for being a new CEO in a division or something. So I think that was a good move. When he got in and they created a new role for Chris Charla that was a great call as well. Because Charla has had a lot of experience in development with Foundation Nine, he was respected. When that happened, when Charla’s role was created and when Phil Spencer got in place, what we thought was that the right moves are happening. But what we said was to not expect all the changes to happen over night because it’s a big ship. And it’s hard to turn big ships. But you knew more appropriate people were being put in place. From that moment on we basically shut up (laughs).”

With Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty having released earlier this year for Xbox One, it’s obvious that big changes became apparent. “They just made some big, seismic changes here, give them a chance to succeed. Give them a chance to deliver what they say they’re going to do. From that moment forward we got nothing but support. It changed a lot. I know a lot of people had to fight internally to make those changes. But they did. And when they did we haven’t seen any backtracking. What I have seen in a couple cases is where people got really upset. I don’t know their reason but they felt like they were being denied by the system. Then I saw Charla come out and say, “why don’t you call us?” If you’re complaining and you haven’t made the call, you don’t have too much to complain about.

“So if he went public saying that, then I’m assuming it’s true. If it weren’t someone could just release an email and then he looks bad. All that being said, I think they put the right people in place. I think you saw drastic changes to the policy. Even though we were a critic I thought we were well balanced, objective critic that spoke to the developer cause in a passionate way without becoming inflammatory. Maybe they let you on their system, but maybe they don’t give you any support. If you say things about a company then you don’t know how that might impact your relationship for the future. What I can say is we got on the system, we were critics. We got onto the system not only did that go smoothly, and development kits were easily accessed at the time– I can’t speak for everyone, but I can for us– we got what we needed. Setting up a store is always a little complicated for little guys.

“There’s just a lot of hoops to jump through and documents to sign, and you don’t know what’s the right stuff. There’s a little bit of that friction signing up that new store. But to my relief they appeared to have judged the game on a fair bases and gave us generous exposure on the store. Meaning, I think they looked at the game without contempt, but looked at it like, ‘it’s a good game for the system, it’s got fans, let’s give it some support.’ On the European store we got good support and on the American store we got good support. To me it looked like the changes were happening. I saw something they’d never be able to go back on.”

Given the current leadership at Microsoft and the benefits seen from the same, there’s no doubting things are better than two years ago. However, will it be enough to combat Sony? Time will tell so stay tuned and let us know what you think in the comments.


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