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 N+  Creators Speak Out On XBLA Quality Issues
N+ Creators Speak Out On XBLA Quality Issues
March 21, 2008 | By Staff

March 21, 2008 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

As part of an in-depth Gamasutra interview published today, outspoken N+ creators Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard have questioned the state of Xbox Live Arcade, suggesting quality issues and publisher-guided games are overwhelming its innovation.

The duo, which worked with Slick Entertainment's Nick Waanders to publish ninja action game N+ for XBLA release last month, had sharp words for the games released on the Xbox 360 digital download service, with Burns explaining:

"I think the thing with Live Arcade, though, is that I remember the last year and the year before. Two years ago was when we were first talking with Microsoft about doing it, it was really exciting, because Live Arcade had just came out, and they were like, "Oh, it's new. It's not going to be like retail. There's not going to be all this crap. There's going to be all these small, great, fun things."

But now it's exactly the same. There's all these big-budget ones with big publishers making them, and the real problem, I think, is that the same people who are deciding what retail games get greenlit are deciding what Live Arcade games get greenlit.

I guess it's because they have a lot of power that no one has pointed out that that's the primary reason. Those decisions that are ruining Live Arcade... it's like, who greenlit Word Puzzle? Who green-lit that hoverboard game that's just shit?

Nick [Waanders] has this racing... do you know Iron Man Off-Road Racing, like the old arcade game? It's four-player, and a little isometric. Nick made a racing game like that, and Microsoft was like, "Well, racing is too saturated on Live Arcade." But that's because they've greenlit like ten really shitty racing games. There's no good racing games."

At this point, Gamasutra editor Brandon Sheffield interjected that the service "has that Yaris game", leading the duo to add:

Raigan: "Oh my god. Exactly! That's the whole thing. They all suck. It's like, when we started out, we were excited, just like with N. There were 30 games on Live Arcade. If N was one of them, it would stand out. Now there's like a hundred games, and they're all shit."

Mare: People are used to seeing crap on there.

Raigan: If I was a consumer, I could see not even looking at Live Arcade games anymore if I had downloaded 10 or 20 demos, because at a certain point, you're like, "Whatever. Maybe there's a good game in here.""

The full interview with the trio is available today on Gamasutra, including lots more detail into the making of N+ for Xbox Live Arcade and their thoughts on the state of the digital download market.

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Phil Ammar
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I've played n+ on xbla. It's alright, but it's definitly not the holy grail of video games like you make it sound.

I agree that xbla does have a lot of games that most people would not find to be the most fun to play, but I don't think that bashing all the games on the network is the best thing to do. I'm not sure if you've played geometry wars or RezHD, because I thought those games were pretty good. If you have something to say, you should probably provide some constructive criticism as opposed to releasing a verbal massacre. If your hurting anybody, you're just hurting your own reputation.

That is all.

Thank you.

Henk Hopla
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I don't think metanet intended to say that N+ was the holy grail at all. But concerns about XBLA getting cluttered with games that score very low in reviews is true.

I.e. N+ overall scored over 80 in metacritic, so in general it has had favourable reviews, while the last few releases have scored very low (lower then 50 on average reviews).

I think that is the main concern here.

That the service is getting cluttered with games that simply are not fun, while royalty rates etc for the service get lowered at the same time (which is not going to attrack more talented developers)

RezHD is another example of a good game that scored good in reviews. I doubt the metanet guys would disagree.

Anthony Vaughn
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It is naive to think that the XBLA venue for games would be any different than standard retail outlets. To say that a game would stand out if there were only 30 games on XBLA versus 100 is well obvious. What should XBLA have done -stop growing? Perhaps we should limit retailers to carrying only 20 games at a time so each on stand out more.

Then in the same breath to denounce all the games on XBLA that are "total shit" is just credibility suicide. XBLA, as with many other game venues, has to cater to as many different types of players as possible: enthusiast, casual, etc. What may be "total shit" to me may be your favorite game of all time.

Finally, perhaps Raigan and Mare can figure out how to not use "like" every other word when saying already ignorant, blanket statements. Somebody get this group an PR department and fast.

What was Gamasutra thinking running this interview?

Michael Black
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How is anybody surprised by this? When I first read "XBLA Coming Soon" I knew it translated into "Diner Dash Coming To XBox Soon!"

Peter Respondek
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They should just introduce a consumer rating system, or popularity score within marketplace. Then people wont have to wade through mediocre stuff to find the gold nuggets.

norb rozek
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The fact that interview subjects spoke their mind when directly questioned is not something to take as an inappropriate action; in point of fact, it is the norm in just about every other field of journalism OTHER than that which covers the game industry. If the game industry really wants to grow culturally ((which will be necessary for the continued survival of all parties concerned)), these types of interviews need to be the norm, not the exception. You ask me a question, and i answer it. Then you disagree with me. Then i disagree with you. This is how we roll in America.