We have had developers complain before that it is very difficult to compete against Xbox Live, and that the system is unfairly stacked against them.
At the time we only had their word for it, but now Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox LIVE has confirmed suspicions, and it is much worse than even developers suspected.
Jabberworx, Chicks and Vixen developer, suspected Xbox Live games made 10 times more than what other top-rated games made. Now Microsoft has revealed that the 50-odd Xbox Live games took 70% of the revenue on Windows Phone, leaving the 4000 other games to fight over the 30% left over.
In his own words Marc said:
â€œToday on Windows Phone, Xbox Live games make up less than 1 per cent of the number of games that are on there. They are over 30 per cent of the units of the games downloaded on the phone, and they over 70 per cent of the revenue. Thatâ€™s because consumers value the experience and integration of the game with Xbox Live.â€
In theory this should attract major software houses to make high quality games for Windows Phone 7, knowing a game blessed with the Xbox Live title will automatically have a massive competitive advantage against the thousands of other titles, no matter their quality.
However in practice the titles we have seen so far has not been terribly impressive, meaning in effect Microsoft is competing with developers for their own platform with a heavily tilted playing field, never a good strategy.
The solution is for Microsoft to increase access to Xbox Live status for independent developers. This would still allow Xbox Live to mean great games, but remove the glass ceiling which limits the income for these developers.