Windows Phone 7: XBox Live Games vs. Non-XBox Live Games

First a disclaimer: I’m not writing this as a complaint about the Windows Phone 7 market place. I understand it’s still early days and things can and probably will change as the market place grows.  I just want to point out a trend I’m seeing in the hopes that Microsoft will consider re-looking at how the market place is setup in regards to XBox Live games vs. Non-XBox Live games.

If the trend I’m seeing continues, then I think there is a pretty good chance a year from now it will not be worth my time to develop Non-XBox Live games for the Windows Phone 7 and that would really stink because I LOVE the platform, tools, and ecosystem.

So what it the problem you ask?

Since I’ve released my Non-XBox Live game, Krashlander, to the Windows Phone 7 market place, I’ve been really focused on how the market place operates and on watching the trends that are beginning to surface.

As I write this, there are about 21 or so XBox Live games in the market place.  As you would expect, Microsoft features these games heavily over the Non-XBox Live games.  This is fine, I get it, and I have no problem with this.  It is Microsoft's platform after all.

The trend I’m seeing is that all the XBox Live games tend to bubble up to the top of the “Top Selling” list pushing any and all Non-XBox Live games downward.  But, what is the big deal with that?  Maybe they are just better games and deserve to be at the top.  Maybe so, but I have a feeling even the really good Non-XBox Live games, will not have a chance against the most mediocre XBox Live games.

Again, I don’t have a problem with this.  I’m all for Microsoft and the XBox Live game developers, some of who are just indies like me, making money. 

The problem I DO have, is that there is currently no way in the market place to view JUST the Non-XBox Live games.  This is not to big a problem today because there are only 21 or so XBox Live games.

Here is a view of the market place today, looking at all “Paid” games.

GameLevel14

Not to bad, the top Non-XBox Live games, including Krashlander, are just a short scroll down the list.

Now fast forward 1 year.  How many XBox Live games might there be?  50? 100, 150.  What about 2 years out? 300? 

As the number of XBox Live games increases, the fate of even the best Non-XBox Live games will be to sit at 150th, 200th or even further down the list of “Top” games.

If Microsoft is concerned only with maximizing the XBox Live games, then I guess this is how things will play out and all the Non-XBox Live game developers will just have to live with it or, more likely, move on to another platform.

My hope is that Microsoft would like to keep all WP7 game developers around in the hopes that some of the better Non-XBox Live games could be promoted to XBox Live titles.

All I’d really like to see is a re-working of the top level filters to allow players to see:

  • Just XBox Live titles (this is already there)
  • Just Non-XBox Live games
  • All games.

Again I’d like to point out I do not have a problem with XBox Live games having more prominence in the market place. That makes sense to me.  I just want Non-XBox Live to have a chance to be seen some place other than as the 200th item in a list. 

-Jeff Weber.
www.farseergames.com
@jeffweber.