If you’re a small game developer, chances are you weren’t terribly excited by today’s big conference. Sure, Microsoft brought Phil Harrison on stage (which is still weird to see) to let everyone know that smaller, downloadable games from independent studios would still come out for the system. Of course, to prove this point, they showed off a port of the world’s most popular indie game – Minecraft – and their pitch pretty much ended after that. What a shame, because this was their time to prove their value and they got it dead, dead wrong.
It’s been a big deal since Microsoft’s original unveiling: what would Microsoft do in the wake of the self-publishing democratization of game development when they’ve traditionally picked and choosed winning puppies on their own. Their approach is understandable in a very old-fashioned way, but it’s also shoehorned indies into promotional waves (Summer of Arcade, etc.) where even those who put forth the incredible effort to make the cut aren’t safe from abuse. Naturally, Sony’s taking a different approach with the PlayStation 4, their mea culpa for their brashness with previous hardware, and dedicating a lot of energy to developer relationships.
The point is that Microsoft isn’t changing and what seems like a (shaky) okay strategy today won’t wind up great for them when innovative titles come down the pipe that they just won’t have access to. Today, you learned what $10 million-plus can do with the console, rather than $100,000.