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Developer, Developer, Developers... !
by Ted Woolsey on 12/05/11 06:45:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


[In a blog post coinciding with the announcement of the 'XBLA Prize' for the Independent Games Festival, Microsoft's head of first-party publishing for Xbox Live Arcade, Ted Woolsey talks about the multi-year deal and what it means for the firm.]

Since it was founded in the mid-1970s, Microsoft has always been passionate about independent development and developers. Back before Xbox, Xbox LIVE and Kinect, back before Office, Windows, and even DOS, Microsoft's first products were programming tools for developers.

We continue to respect and admire the work our developer-partners produce, and one of our main goals as a company is to empower people -- consumers and developers -- to realize their dreams through our technology.

Microsoft Studios invests more than $20 million dollars per year to fund Xbox LIVE Arcade games, which is incremental to what we spend on our internal development support infrastructure. With our business increasing year over year we consider this a smart investment in the ecosystem, and another way we support the independent development community.

In that spirit, we're very excited about our multi-year sponsorship of the Independent Games Festival. The IGF has a deservedly great reputation for work it’s done with independent games and developers.

I think it’s not overstating it to say that the independent development scene wouldn’t be nearly as robust as it is today without the exposure provided by the IGF. We look forward to working with the IGF and having a window into to the huge array of independent games that are submitted every year so that we can continue to find the best games to share with our customers.

A side note here: we greatly respect the IGF and the procedures that are followed in the selection of finalists or winners of their program. We are working closely with the IGF to make sure that there will not be any direct or indirect influence whatsoever on the judges or the selection process for their program. We're here to continue to support independent game makers and find great games!

Playing a role in empowering creative, independent developers, and then delivering the fruits of their labor to a wide fan base on Xbox 360, Windows Phone and soon Windows 8 is an amazingly rewarding job for me and the publishing teams at Microsoft Studios. We can’t wait to see what will come next!

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Peter Kojesta
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This initiative seems like a very nice move on behalf of MS. Their investment in the online distribution business model via XBLA, and continued efforts therein, are very welcome. I hope this results in a lot of great new content on the XBLA platform.

Lars Doucet
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A few questions, Ted:

"We are working closely with the IGF to make sure that there will not be any direct or indirect influence whatsoever on the judges or the selection process for their program."

That's cool. I'm a little confused though, maybe you can clarify something for me:

1) Since this is a sponsored prize, I assume Microsoft picks the winner, right?

2) Is ease-of-portability to X360 a criteria in judging?

Ie, I assume the point of the prize is that Microsoft wants to support the IGF and is also interested in finding new candidates for their XBLA platform. Is MS evaluating all IGF entrants for this prize, or say, just those that already run under Windows/DirectX (or some other criteria)?

Robert Boyd
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So I take it this means that Dream-Build-Play is basically finished?

Simon Carless
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Robert, I'm not Microsoft, but I wanted to note that as far as I'm aware, this sponsorship is with a completely different part of Microsoft from the folks who do DBP. So I'm not actively aware that it affects DBP in any way. (It was something that the XBLA first party folks wanted to do, separately of DBP.)

[EDIT: Chris Charla at Microsoft just confirmed to me that this is 100% separate of DBP.]

Evan Jones
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On the topic of XBLA and independent games: why don't we ever see XBLIGs "promoted" to full Arcade releases? It seems like this would be an easy way to attract lots of independent talent to XBLIG who might otherwise be tempted to seek alternate platforms for developing their games (iOS/Steam/etc.)

Also, are you the same Ted Woolsey who localized many Square RPGs in the early-mid 90s? If so, awesome!

Robert Hewson
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As somebody who has worked with Ted and the rest of the team at XBLA, I have to say they are all great to work with and clearly passionate about their platform and indie games in general. They spotted and supported guys like Twisted Pixel and I think this is a great initiative on their part too and should be applauded. The fact that the indie games channel/XNA exists shows great support for the indie scene anyway.

Ted Woolsey
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Hi Robert!

Ted Woolsey
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Hi Lars, couple of responses.

1) Yes, we choose games, but in conjunction with the IGF jury, and review titles from the entire submission pool (not just a few categories).

2) Appropriateness for the xbox platform could/may be criteria in judging.

Yes, we are looking for interesting new games we think people would want to play and buy!

Lars Doucet
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Also, I know you get this all the time, but thanks for localizing Final Fantasy 3/6 :)

Ted Woolsey
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Yep, that's me! Cheers!!!