News Article

Xbox One's Heinous Launch Parity Clause Still Causing Problems for PlayStation Devs

Posted by Sammy Barker

Playing dirty

Microsoft may have been quick to react to the negative feedback pointed at most aspects of the Xbox One, but it’s refusing to budge on the launch parity clause that underlines its hastily implemented indie initiative. For those out of the loop, the manufacturer will not allow titles to appear on its system if they’ve already arrived on a PlayStation platform in the past, essentially bullying smaller developers into releasing their software on the Xbox Live marketplace first.

The solution for studios is to release their titles on the Xbox One and, say, PlayStation 4 at the same time, but many indie outfits don’t have the bandwidth to do this. Due to the platform holder being late to the self-publishing party, it has provided companies that have already signed deals with Sony a get-out plan, but it’s unclear whether this will remain a viable option in the future. Crunching Koalas, the Polish firm behind upcoming Lemmings-esque puzzler Mousecraft, doesn’t even know yet whether its game can release on Microsoft’s machine. “We just don't know anything yet,” a befuddled Tomasz Tomaszewski told Official Xbox Magazine.

The problem for the team is that it plans to release a PlayStation Vita version of the rodent focused adventure in May, with a PlayStation 4 port set to follow later in the year. But why does any of this matter to fans of Sony’s systems? Quite simply because if developers want to release titles on multiple platforms but don’t have the resources to create two or more versions at the same time, there's a chance that you may end up having to wait to play them on a PlayStation platform.

We could swallow the delay if the developer really believed in the Xbox One release, but the way that Microsoft has structured this policy means that studios looking to repay the good faith that Sony has shown in the indie arena may actually end up being punished by the Redmond-based firm down the line. And while the Japanese giant could quite easily counter with a similar clause of its own, the only people that would lose in that situation are the small developers looking to find a home for their games.


User Comments (36)



ztpayne7 said:

I think this needs to be publicized more with the general population.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

All small devs creating indie titles need to stick together and tell ms to get stuffed. They'll soon tear up the toilet paper they printed on. Unions are how employees avoid being bullied. Small devs need to tell ms to shoot their face off.



Faustek said:

@ztpayne7 a few months back I mentioned this to a few. Opinion was: med who cares? Smart business.

I seriously think I know to many a-holes :/



get2sammyb said:

@Faustek It is smart business in the sense that there's no real way Sony can counter it. If it implements a similar policy, then it'll undo all the good work it's done in the indie space. However, without countering it, it runs the risk of getting content late while developers agree to Microsoft's policies.

The only real thing it can do is hope that studios don't give into it, and like @RyoHazuki says, Microsoft will have to bin the policy eventually if it's locking everything out of its platform through this stupid clause.

EDIT: I do think it's important that this topic gets plenty of press, though. Hopefully more indie studios will talk about how it's affecting them in the future.



ComicBookGuy said:

More anti-consumer and anti-producer policies from MS. This stuff isn't surprising anymore. MS have been a tech bully since the early's just how they do things.
The shame is that so many people outright defend their heinous practices. Hopefully Indies will tell them to shove it and all just release on PS. That will FORCE them to change and we can actually have some balance again.



InsertNameHere said:

Leave it to Microsoft to do something good, only to follow it up with something terrible. They need to just leave Indies alone because they're terrible at working with them.



Scollurio said:

Just release to Sony/PC Platforms then?
Seriously MS does not put a good light on themselves with a policy like that, and I thought they couldn't get any LESS sympathic company-image! Guess I was wrong.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

I don't care about waiting longer for titles or dlc etc to come out on ps4, its already proven thus far to be of superior quality. Its Sony that's going to have the problems here, they can only give more support and freedom to indie devs, hopefully they'll get organised.



iSillyBoiJudas said:

Smh, Microsoft is trying to figure out how to compete with the PS4 and doing this really does give them an edge over future devs because since they're independent they need the possibility to make profit off their game and not being able to have their game on two of the major next-gen systems this has a negative impact on their profit. But if it helps the devs I don't mind waiting to get it on PS4. Sony's owned studios has great AAA games I can play until devs bring their games over to PS4. Microsoft is truly horrible for doing this.



rjejr said:

I dont like the policy, and I dont like MS, but I wouldn't call it "heinous". I reserve that word for rapists who cut off their victims arms and child rapists and genocide.

MS has a console, they tell you up front what the rules are, if you don't like it don't make a game for their console. It's simple capitalism. It's not like iOS and Android and Nintendo and PC don't exist to make games on, MS doesn't have a monopoly in game distribution, not even close. If you dont like capitalism thats fine, but even at it's worst - and capitalism can be evil - I dont view capitalism as heinous.

It's not a good policy, but its not that bad.



thedevilsjester said:

What indie devs need to do is simply adhear to the policy but always provide extended/better versions to the PS4 (not back ported to the Xbox) so that MS will get inferior versions. This might be too subtle to work though...



Faustek said:

@get2sammyb it is smart business. What I was upset with was that the people didn't care that a large entity was practically bullying smaller entities to bow down.

To me "indie" is freedom. It's total. And when you try to stop that. Chain that freedom. You're Less than good person. That simple.

Edit:Language, bad word.



Paranoimia said:

This is why I get annoyed by the sometimes blinkered "competition is good" argument. Competition is good, as long as all involved play by the same rules, which isn't the case here, and rarely is with Microsoft. They've already been fined more than once for anti-competitive practices, and probably should be again since they clearly haven't corrected their behaviour.

The indies basically need to band together and resist this. Release on other platforms and forget about Xbox until MS do away with the clause - for the sake of themselves and gamers.



GiacomoHall said:

One thing Sony could do is front some of the money for the creation of an umbrella organisation or association which promotes and supports independent developers. Maybe if independent developers gave up a little of that independence in order to support each other they can confront larger companies with such bullying tactics.

Of course Sony would then have to leave them to their own devices and may end up in dispute at later date if they ever create any similar ant-indie policies, but I think it could go some way to challenge Microsoft's current policy and would likely garner some positive press.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

@rjejr its not capitalism, its bullying. Ms are only in direct competition with Sony, its plain warped. Its pathetic because nobody buys a consoles based on indie release dates. This policy will not sell more Xbox one consoles and it will not in anyway significantly increase profits either. Its borderline illegal I imagine, with UK/EU retail competition laws and such. This policy will be dumped within 12 months.



shingi_70 said:


Will be hard for developers not too. Despite having a crappy policy the [email protected] program is really great, you get two free Dev kits and free access to Unity for Xbox One, Windows 8, and Windows Phone. The parity cause may suck but that's a lot of development costs down. I think the PS4 will still be the indie king but the program is decent.

To add to that Microsoft is going to allow every One unit to be a Dev kit. That could give Microsoft a big advangtge when it comes to starting indie developers whoa re usually PC first, and cultivating a developer community by targeting the student market.

Was under the impression that this clause was removed in early December, too bad it hasnt .



wittypixel said:

@ztpayne7 I agree! I think this would get more buzz if company's (internet media) weren't so afraid of Microsoft.

Company's are becoming afraid to rub others the wrong way so they can stay in their good graces and maybe some even a little kickback. Honesty takes balls nowadays, and some don't have what it takes.




wittypixel said:

@seeafish That's the only way to do it. Microsoft is in a tough situation right now with the sales numbers and those guys agreeing to these terms are only hurting themselves, their profits and gaming in general.

Can't let these big companies bully you, they have to take a stand and not sell out like they are with those TOS.



banacheck said:

There will be a lot of indie dev's thay cannot work on the XboxOne already, this policy will most likely back-fire. The only people this will hurt is the Indies, all the while giving Microsoft more bad rep.



ComicBookGuy said:

Just to clarify, Microsoft is a GIGANTIC business, where Xbox is a tiny tiny piece.
They do this WITH EVERYTHING they do (hence I said heinous... they truly are a disgusting corporation).
I mean, Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, DirectX, Skype, Xbox... everything they ever did, they attempted to grab market share (usually with great success) by using shady practices and stepping on the little guy. I remember when IE finally killed off Netscape, they added insult to injure by dropping a large 'e' (IE logo) into the fountain at Netscape HQ.
They are bullies who don't want to COMPETE, they want to MONOPOLISE. Be it saying "OPENGL IS BY THE DEVIL!!" or "Gmail steals your data mmmkay", they just can't create a product and let it speak for itself without resorting to petty BS like stepping on some poor indie developers.




Stuffgamer1 said:

To be clear here, MS has had this policy for YEARS. It's nothing new, and I can't see them having the sense to finally drop it. It worked for them in Gen 7 because 360 sold so well...but with PS4 SPANKING Xbone right now, I think we're going to wind up with more and more indies just ignoring MS as a result of this idiotic rule.



rjejr said:

@RyoHazuki - I'm pretty sure capitalism = bullying, thats why free market is a myth and the government has to constantly step in to regulate stuff or we would all be seriously screwed.

As to MS' reasoning for having this policy, simple 2 word answer:

"sloppy seconds"



thedevilsjester said:

@Stuffgamer1 I sure hope this will be the case. When a lot of customers ask the developers "why don't you bring your game to the Xbox?" and the answer is invariably "MS won't let us.", you will see a backlash.



get2sammyb said:

@Stuffgamer1 Didn't that apply to games that they specifically published on the Xbox 360, though? For me, that makes sense. This clause applies to any self-published content, which is likely to be taken advantage of small studios unable to create multiple SKUs at once.

You're absolutely right, though, it could easily bite them in the bum.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@get2sammyb: It applied to ANYTHING released on 360, regardless of publisher. In all likelihood, that policy remains in place unchanged and this one is only being publicized more because it's easier for the general gaming public to get info on it.



shingi_70 said:

Interesting comment from the Dev on GAF

who is this guy and why should I take his word for it?

edit: it would seem he just posted above me, I still find that hard to believe given it flies in the face of recent history, Chris Charla has definitely been making strides at Microsoft but easier than PS4/Vita given everything we've seen already? doubtful
Well, no one forces you to believe me .

Microsoft really did their homework - their program is excellent and bringing games to Xbox One is probably cheaper then getting your games to any other console. But that's just my opinion.


Really surprised this parity thing is still a issues seems like Xbox could be the best consoles for indies without it.



craigun said:

If it were my development company, I'd cancel all future Xbox development, it's not like their new system is selling that well anyway. Why should I be bullied into being forced to release an inferior version of my product for a machine that can't keep up technically?

For that reason alone, I'd need the extra development time to make sure my game for the X1 could come close to the PS4 version. MS should be thankful to anyone willing to put anything out for their machine at this point.

I really don't hate the X1, just the company behind it.



Shaolin said:

@get2sammyb This is just business. Can you imagine if Ouya complained because Push Square only writes articles mainly about PlayStation? That's probably the weakest analogy in the world but the point is that all businesses have to clearly decide on a policy that works best for them.

Do you remember when Sony bullied Playdead into giving them ownership of the Limbo IP? Well that didn't work out very well at all and I had to wait for what seemed like an age before I could play Limbo on my ps3 (and believe me I really really wanted to play that game because I've never had an Xbox). Now I hear that Playdead has even signed up to the new Xbox indie scheme. You could say that we lost Playdead to Xbox for the longest time because of Sony's aggressive pursuit of them but that would be just as silly as berating the Xbox indie policies.

So you see it's all swings and roundabouts in business and at the end of the day it is just purely Not "heinous", a word I would only reserve for a crime, just business. As some people have said on here, if it was such an unfair policy then the indies would all flock to PS4 then Xbox would have none but that's not happening is it? After all they are independent so they are free to do as they choose.

I may be a PlayStation fan but I shan't get into the trap of criticising Microsoft any which way I can. In one of your previous articles you revealed that you studied Business so surely you must realise that there are many many examples of this kind of contract in industry and you'd be a fool to think that Microsoft is anywhere near being the worst, far from it in fact. I can understand that attitude from many of the less experienced people on here who have been brainwashed into thinking that because they own a PlayStation they should hate Microsoft but I expect more from a professional. Look don't get me wrong, you write very informative articles and I love this website but I sometimes find the editorial a little unbalanced as though you feel that your readership demands to read it this way. It wasn't always like this though, I miss the way you used to write a couple of years back.



EyeDeeNO76 said:

Independent developers best not give Microsoft's Xbox Windows entertainment monitoring center device a second look. Micro$oft is a scumbag corporation they allow very little control of developers and their content for years and launch parity clause just adds more on top of that.




Dordrid said:

This is just bull. Monopolising at the expense of these small developers is ridiculous. And this will probably backfire in their stupid faces. It would make more sense to have incentives rather than taking advantage of people.



Demi_God said:

This is going to bite Microsoft in the butt. Some developers may release at the same time which is fine, but I think a lot of indie developers will basically tell MS to "take a hike". Even more so if Sony continues to sell the PS4 like it has.



jgrangervikings1 said:

If enough indie games release only on PlayStation because of this, Microsoft will change their policies. When it got to the point when enough gamers were investing in PlayStation Plus because of the free games that came with the subscription, Microsoft altered their Gold membership to include free games, too. When Sony announced their games could be traded in and loaned to friends, MS changed their policies. Always-on XBox? Changed policy. Pressure will bring about change. Fight the good fight!

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