Super Meat Boy developer turned off by cost and hassle of console development
Consoles have become more trouble than they’re worth in the eyes of indie duo Team Meat.
The Super Meat Boy creators leapt to fame on Xbox Live Indie Games, but now duo Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes believes there are better options.
“We know the stress associated with going into console stuff,” Refenes told Eurogamer.
“When you look at the stress that comes with Steam and iOS and the Google Play store, you look at those and you look at which hoops you’d have to jump through to get on any one of the consoles, it’s like, ‘is this worth the time? Is this worth the headache?’”
This isn’t because publishing on Xbox has gotten harder, but due to the variety of new, more open options available to developers.
“A couple years ago it was definitely worth it because that was the outlet where people like Ed and I and Jon Blow could put their games because that was the only outlet,” Refenes explained.
“But that’s not the only outlet anymore and those seem to be the more difficult outlets than just contacting Steam and just putting your game on there and supporting it easily.”
Not only are these platforms harder to work with, they’re more expensive as well.
“The overhead cost of just developing for those consoles is insane,” continued Refenes.
“It costs zero dollars to develop on Steam if you already have a computer. When you look at PlayStation and Xbox and Nintendo you have to buy thousand dollar dev kits and pay for certification and pay for testing and pay for localisation – you have to do all these things and at the end of the day it’s like, ‘I could have developed for other platforms and it would’ve been easier.’”
This overhead makes it risky for independents to get behind new platforms without some guarantee of their success.
“You have to take into consideration that when you’re independent, you don’t want to take the risk of jumping on a platform that you have no idea how it’s going to do until it’s already established,” said McMillen.
“When you look at WiiWare, when it bloomed when World of Goo came out it was like, ‘Holy s***! This is a great platform to develop for,’ and then it was like a gold rush and everybody was jumping on WiiWare.”
“What they should have done was wait a little longer to see if it would continue. Because then it just dropped and nobody cared.”
McMillen worries a similar situation could arise on any of the next generation consoles.
“Imagine if we got put in another situation like with Xbox where we were nailed down to this contract of semi-exclusivity and we had to jump through all these hoops and kill ourselves and then pay s***loads of money to get on a platform that’s not established yet and then it comes out and doesn’t do well – imagine that. That’s f***ing horrible.”
At the root of this is a worry that interest in the next generation of consoles just isn’t as high as it could be.
“I don’t feel there’s enough deviation from what games are currently out to what games are going to be out,” said Refenes.
“I don’t feel there’s a need to have anything more than what’s out right now.”
For Team Meat, that enthusasm has disapated with the rise of mobile gaming, and that’s where the studio is taking its next game: Mew-Genics.
“An iPad comes out and does a year’s worth of console sales in a weekend,” concluded Refenes.
“The people in the market to play games are more apt to grab an iPad or a tablet or a fancy phone because it’s more convenient.”