I've been chewing on this Digital Spy story for a bit now. Last week, they spoke with Daniel Jones, the managing director at Binary Tweed, an independent game developer that released Clover , a watercolor-styled platforming game that was released as a Community Game on the Xbox 360 via the XNA Creators program. In the story, Jones comes across as disappointed with the sales for Clover. Here's what he had to say:
I gave the trial for Clover a shot, and as it has a reference to UK: Resistance in it, I'm just going to go ahead and say that it's probably pretty cool. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not trying to say anything about the quality of this specific product. But at what point did people start expecting that the Xbox Community Games thing was going to be a means to create a profitable business? Wasn't this whole thing always aimed at bedroom developer type people who are kind of just creating things in their spare time, perhaps with hopes of learning something along the way?
"It's a shame to say that Clover has not sold as many copies as we'd hoped for. As it stands, through Community Games alone, we definitely won't recoup costs."
The XNA Creators Club site certainly doesn't go out of its way to claim that it's there so people can go about the business of doing business. It's all about dreams and wishes and free development tools:
Obviously, yes, they let you set a price for your final product once you get it posted up in the difficult-to-navigate Community Games section on Xbox Live. So there's certainly the potential for getting some money coming in. But if anyone thought this was going to be some kind of weird road-to-the-riches, I think they've been led astray.
If you’ve ever dreamed of making your own video games and sharing them with the world, then the XNA Creators Club and community games are for you. It’s game development for everybody – games created by the community, reviewed by the community, and played by everyone.
So it's hard for me to feel too sorry for people who are discovering that this whole process is not economically viable. I don't really think this whole thing was ever supposed to be a get rich quick scheme. Heck, they won't even send you a check until your cut of your game's sales hits $150. I have to imagine that almost all of the developers out there putting these games out aren't hitting that mark. Does any of this surprise you? Do you think that this should be a path to success for independent developers?
Speaking of being "not economically viable," I leave you with this important and obviously relevant video: