Lorne Lanning: Indies Aren't on Microsoft's Radar

The creator of Oddworld laments Microsoft's perplexing stance on independent developers.

News by Mike Williams, .

While Sony and Nintendo are reaching out to indies big time with focused campaigns and easy roads to self-publishing, Microsoft is still clinging to its old ways. Under the company's current system self-publishing is only allowed on Xbox Live's Indie Games category. To end up in the actual Games category you either need a publisher or have a publishing deal with Microsoft itself. This outdated system is being carried forward with the upcoming release of the Xbox One, giving Sony and Nintendo another way to differentiate their console offerings from Microsoft's box.

In an interview with VG247, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning said Microsoft is repeating past mistakes with the Xbox One. Lanning was one of eight indie developers brought onstage for Sony's E3 2013 press event and he's "floored at how open Sony's been." In contrast, Lanning and Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD developer Just Add Water tried to get the game on Xbox Live for nearly a year. Their efforts ended in failure.

"At the business level, Microsoft isn't acknowledging people like us," said Lanning. "It's as if we don't matter. We couldn't get clear answers for 15 months. We were like, 'Look. We're on seven other networks. It's been no-brainers on all of them. We're not asking you for money. We're not asking you for advertising.' We're little guys, we have to release. We can't get a straight answer."

"Then we release on PSN, and we get a mail the next day that says, 'Oh, you released on PSN at a lower price point, you didn't meet our margins, sorry you can't be on the system.' Boom. And that was it. We're not on the radar. We're little guys. It doesn't seem like any of the little guys are on the radar. When we listen to them talk, we have to laugh. It's pure rhetoric."

Lanning has one big idea on how Microsoft can right the ship: fire its entire public relations team.

"It's a bit puzzling. It's clear they're not listening. I'm not sure who they're listening to. Whoever their PR people are, whoever their marketing agents are, they should fire them all," he stated. "That's where they should start. There should be a big, mass firing and they should publicise that. Then they'd get people saying, 'Hey, maybe there's going to be a good change.' But if they keep the rhetoric flowing, obviously everyone's looking at it saying, 'This isn't real.' How are they going to keep what they've got today? That's a big question."

Lanning and Just Add Water are currently working on a remake of the first Oddworld game, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty, that's currently coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, PC, Mac, and Linux this holiday season. It's not hard to see what's missing there.

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Comments 4

  • Avatar for Pombar #1 Pombar 4 years ago
    For a well-respected niche title like that to get the absolute silent treatment? There are some major problems at Microsoft right now. They're just totally disconnected from the public and the industry as a whole (as the anti-used games stance showed). Some huge shakeup is definitely a must.
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  • Avatar for twopenny #2 twopenny 4 years ago
    @Pombar I'm with you. It does seem like they're ready to jettison the indie/live arcade experiment like it never happened. I don't know how the economics for these services look, but indie games are bigger now than ever--they have to know this. When the next big indie sensation appears--as it inevitably will--I wonder if we'll see another back-peddle.

    In any case, Microsoft continues to surprise me with just how badly their PR is run these days. At every turn, they alienate users with oblivious enthusiasm. For things to spin out of control this badly, so quickly, is truly impressive. What a mess.
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  • Avatar for harismujkic55 #3 harismujkic55 4 years ago
    Although Microsoft is not in favor for indies, I kinda still think that they ARE preparing something for indies. They just can't leave us. They know that. I just hope they don't do something when it's late like they made mistake going into mobile OS stuff too late. I just hope they are working on XNA like framework that will allow us small indies to develop and publish for Xbox One. That would make sense on why they are ignoring indies currently. Maybe.
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