Jan 31, 2012
The long-running Humble Indie Bundle initiative has finally made the leap to smartphones.
The latest pack includes Android-compatible indie gems Osmos, Edge and Anomaly: Warzone Earth. What's more, you'll also get versions for Mac OSX, Windows or GNU/Linux.
As is traditional, you decide how much you pay, and what proportion of your donation goes to the developers, to charity (choose Child's Play Charity or the Electronic Frontier Foundation) and to the Humble Indie Bundle organisers.
If your payment is above the current average ($5.29 at the time of writing), you'll also get World of Goo thrown in.
The pack has got off to a solid start, with over 24,000 sales so far and revenue of $131,000.
Jan 10, 2012
Acclaimed physics puzzler World of Goo has been downloaded one million times from the iOS and Mac App Store in the 13 months since launch.
According to Gamasutra, 29 per cent of those sales were for iPhone or iPod Touch, while 69 per cent were for the iPad. Mac App Store downloads only contributed two per cent, though a separate Mac version has been on sale since 2008 when the game first launched on PC and WiiWare.
iPhone/iPod sales made up 17 per cent of all revenue, whereas the more expensive iPad version constituted 79 per cent.
The Android version, which only launched in November 2011, has racked up 70,000 sales, although a free demo has been downloaded 450,000 times. The game sold 180,000 downloads over the same period of time following the iOS launch one year previous.
Life-to-date sales figures for the original PC and WiiWare versions have not been made public.
Not played the 2D Boy-developed gem yet? You really should give it a whirl - Eurogamer's Kristan Reed attempted to award it 11/10 in his World of Goo review.
Oct 5, 2011
Has Xbox Live Arcade really peaked, as World of Goo creator Ron Carmel yesterday argued? No, analysts have told Eurogamer.
"But Microsoft should take a look at Ron Carmel's piece," declared Billy Pidgeon of M2 Research, "which eloquently makes the case (and backs it up with data) that XBLA has peaked for a specific group of independent developers who are responsible for high quality games that outsell the average XBLA game.
"Sony is acquiring more unique content for PSN, and in many cases it's exclusive content, which will cost Sony more but will clearly differentiate their online games store from XBLA and other competition."
"In terms of digital games delivered through a home console, Microsoft will continue to be the market leaders," stated Jesse Divnich of EEDAR.
"I am not disagreeing with Mr. Carmel, I believe some of his points are valid and any digital service provider has its own restrictions and hurdles. Not every game is the right fit for every service.
"We certainly are seeing some fracturing among developers, and Xbox Live and PSN are no longer the only option for game distribution."
"That doesn't sound right to me," said Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan, responding to Carmel's claim. "If anything, there are more titles than ever, but we haven't had a Braid or Limbo so far this year.
"As the 360 price comes down and the installed base continues to grow, there should be a significantly larger addressable market for XBLA games, so I think it continues to grow."
Ron Carmel surveyed 200 independent developers. His results, which he admitted weren't sacrosanct, showed dwindling support for Xbox Live Arcade. Part of this is due to laborious XBLA constraints. The other part can be attributed to the rise of PC, Mac, iOS and Android gaming. Billy Pidgeon said that "viable alternative marketplaces" are "good news for developers and gamers both". Whereas Xbox Live Arcade and PSN are "predictable", he said, other markets can be "risky".
"Indie games are like indie songs: most of them suck, but the ones that don't are unique and deserve to be bought, played, talked about, discovered and awarded."
Billy Pidgeon, analyst, M2 Research
Divnich said the investment in social and mobile gaming "is not necessarily at the cost of XBLA and PSN titles". There's greater flexibility there, but "the recipe for success is not as established".
"Of all the online games markets," added Pidgeon, "I think Steam may have the best offering for gaming enthusiasts so far. The PC is the ideal platform with the most reach, Steam's timed specials help games sell more but hedge price erosion, and it's a great experience for gamers who use it.
"Nintendo's online shops are getting better, but still have a long way to go. The App Store has got great reach, but the best games get lost in the crap and rapid price erosion is a given. Android download stores are the worst, with all the downsides of the App Store and none of the upside due to fragmentation."
Apple has made iOS an easy platform to develop and publish for. One of Ron Carmel's suggestions was for Microsoft to make every Xbox 360 a dev kit, and relax the submission process so that more content can get through. Xbox Live Indie Games already does this, to a degree.
"The Xbox Live Indie Games market seems a waste of a good opportunity," Pidgeon went on to say. "What should be a showcase for indie games is more like a swap meet.
"It's worthwhile to let anybody make a game with XNA, but there should be a 'top shelf' for the best independent games. Indie games are like indie songs: most of them suck, but the ones that don't are unique and deserve to be bought, played, talked about, discovered and awarded."
Nicholas Lovell from Gamesbrief, in a lengthy dissection of Ron Carmel's piece, accused Microsoft of "artificially trying to restrict consumers to a limited number of choices, similar to a retail store". Whereas Carmel had hope Microsoft could turn it around, Lovell isn't so sure.
"Ron is relatively upbeat about the future, if Microsoft adopts some of his ten-point plan. I am less so," Lovell wrote. "I think that the company is stuck trying to recreate the limitations of the physical distribution market, rather than embracing the opportunities created by the digital market.
"I was going to say that I hope that I am wrong, but I'm not sure that's entirely true. The sooner the world becomes more open, the better."
Oct 4, 2011
World of Goo developer 2D Boy believes Xbox Live Arcade "peaked" last year (2010) and that "Microsoft is not yet aware of this".
Studio co-founder Ron Carmel surveyed 200 independent game makers, some of which are responsible for significant - but undisclosed - XBLA titles.
He discovered that more developers want to make PSN games now than titles for XBLA. He also found PSN and XBLA seventh and eighth in a list of target platforms for 2011. The most popular was Windows, followed closely by Mac, iOS, Linux, Flash/browser and Android platforms.
Nearly three quarters of the developers surveyed said ease of working with a platform holder was paramount - followed by installed base and platform suitability.
When asked about specific platform holders, the majority deemed Steam, Facebook and Apple "very easy" to work with. Sony's PSN majority, like Google's Android, was "so-so". Most people found WiiWare "difficult", whereas Microsoft's XBLA was "excruciating".
"Given that ease of working with the platform owner was voted the most important factor in choice of platforms, it becomes perfectly clear why XBLA, despite being a very strong channel with a large audience and huge earning potential, is dropping in popularity among these developers," observed Carmel.
"But if things keep going the way they are, and XBLA keeps losing talented developers, I believe the diversity of games available on XBLA will diminish, quality will suffer, and revenue numbers will drop as players start to move away from an unremarkable portfolio of games. We will see a lot more 'genrefication' and big publisher franchises."
"XBLA is no longer the king it used to be. Microsoft is no longer in a position to demand exclusivity now that PSN has more developers and is growing."
Ron Carmel, co-founder, 2D Boy
"Once players start to leave in large numbers it will be too late to turn things around," he added. "Given that it takes at least a year or two to make an XBLA game, no developer would want to start working on one knowing that XBLA is declining in popularity and could be significantly weaker by the time the game is ready.
Carmel believes full-scale gamer "migration" away from XBLA is "a few years away", which allows "more than enough time for XBLA to change course".
To this end, Carmel shared "10 Things Microsoft Can Do To Improve XBLA".
- Create a fair contract that doesn't require negotiation. "It's the most exploitative, one-sided distribution contract I've seen. We each waste months of our time and Microsoft's time negotiating the same stuff out of the contract, over, and over again."
- Solve the content discovery problem. "The platform owner needs to make it super easy for their users to buy software."
- Stop requiring independent developers to publish through MGS. "Every other distribution channel allows independent developers to self publish, without a producer, and I see no evidence that having a producer on a game makes it better."
- Drop the TCRs, make updating easy. "TCRs add months to a game's development time that could be better used polishing the game."
- Get rid of the exclusivity requirement for independent developers. "XBLA is no longer the king it used to be. Microsoft is no longer in a position to demand exclusivity now that PSN has more developers and is growing."
- Drop the greenlight process and open up development to everyone. "Players judge the quality of a platform by the quality and quantity of the best games available on it, not by the average quality of all games."
- Make every console a dev kit. "It may require a lot of work, but there is nothing stopping Microsoft from doing this as well. This is actually one of the reasons Microsoft is the console maker best-poised to undergo this transformation."
- Automate everything. "With the App Store, everything is automated and a developer can release a game without ever talking to a human."
- Drop the ESRB in favor of a self administered rating system. "It takes weeks, and thousands of dollars, to get a game rated by all the domestic and international ratings agencies needed to launch a game globally. The ESRB in particular is a nightmare to deal with."
- Make avatar related requirements optional. "I don't know a single developer who wants to make toys for avatars. It's not fun and it inflates the game's budget."
"XBLA played a pivotal role in the popularisation of independent games," concluded Carmel, name-checking N+, Castle Crashers, Braid, Limbo and Super Meat Boy.
"Microsoft proved that indie games can be million sellers on consoles, and then sat on its laurels for half a decade as more nimble and innovative companies like Valve and Apple took the lead.
"I would love to see Microsoft rise to the challenge of adapting to new digital distribution landscapes," he wrote. "More healthy platforms means more interesting, creative games that push the limits of our medium."
Video: World of Goo.
Apr 4, 2011
Acclaimed indie physics puzzler World of Goo is slithering onto the iPhone soon, developer 2D Boy has announced.
The smartphone version of the game is all done and has been submitted to Apple for approval so should be available "soonish", according to a post on the developer's website.
It'll cost £1.79 but early birds can pick it up for just 59p during its first 24 hours on sale. It will be a universal app, so if you've already got the iPad version you're essentially getting it for free on your phone.
Anyone clinging onto a 3G model is out of luck you'll need a 3GS, iPhone 4 or third generation iPod Touch to run it.
For those yet to get acquainted with 2D Boy's genius creation, the game launched on PC and WiiWare back in 2009 to stellar reviews.
It then landed on Apple's tablet late last year. "If a better game ever comes to the iPad, you might well spontaneously combust," wrote Eurogamer's Kristan Read in his 10/10 endorsement.
Nov 22, 2010
Good news: ace physics-based puzzler World of Goo is heading to the iPad. Better news: it'll be ready any day now.
Developer 2D Boy announced on its website that the game will be out "As soon as we get approved by Apple. We hope before the holiday season."
2D Boy promises that it's exactly the same game that we awarded 10/10 back in 2009 on PC and WiiWare, right down to the multiplayer.
"Yes, you can play with 11 fingers on one screen. Which means you can play two handed, with friends, an animal, anything up to eleven fleshy things touching the screen."
The release is iPad only for now, but a future iPhone release hasn't been ruled out.
"Maybe," explained 2D Boy. "There's a lot of iGoo to pour in, and we don't want to release something if it doesn't run absolutely buttery smooth."
The two-man indie development powerhouse added that plans for World of Goo 2 are also under consideration.
"A second World of Goo is a possibility, and something we would enjoy working on. Working together again on WogPad has reminded us how fun it was to make the original.
"A second World of Goo will need to feel like a perfect and appropriate continuation of the first game. No Red Bull Can levels or rapping Goo cutscenes, according to our official design doc."
WogPad? Woah Nelly. We're going to fire off an email now and let them know what that word means round these parts.