Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

What “Non-Open” Looks Like

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 17, 2012

Do not mock Apple or the current marketing buzzwords, or you will be denied!

By itself, it’s a pretty minor thing, and Terry removed the offending comment and has since been accepted for the app store.

But I do think this serves as a reminder of the inherent risk of building a business whose existence is dependent upon the sufferance of another company. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t make games for the App Store, or for the upcoming Microsoft Store, or for consoles…  I’m just saying it’d be wise for a company to make sure they don’t have all their eggs in a basket that they ultimately don’t have enough control to safeguard.

Plus, I’m a little worried about the video game business ending up in a chilled state where we have to always make sure we don’t offend our “hosts” – hosts meaning the people who control the underlying platform, not the actual customers / gamers. The latter are who is important. I don’t like seeing these middlemen finding new ways of re-seizing control and dominance.


Filed Under: Biz, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Felix said,

    I see nobody else has chimed in yet, so here’s my two cents.

    No, it’s NOT a minor thing, and yes, you should boycott the App Store. Why? To further your analogy, not only you shouldn’t put all eggs in one basket, but if one of the baskets is rickety and keeps falling apart you should never put ANY eggs in it, ever.

    Moreover, every single application submitted to the App Store validates Apple’s treatment of developers and sends a signal to everyone else: “it’s okay to act like that”. Then we end up with exclusive app stores for OS X and Windows 8, and soon innovation is dead on all the big platforms.

    Not that I mind Linux, BSD, Haiku and so on becoming more appealing for everyone. But if it happens for the wrong reasons, that will just create resentment.

    To paraphrase a famous saying, if you value money over dignity, you don’t deserve either.

  • Kyle Haight said,

    This seems like an ongoing cycle.

    Gatekeepers are always tempted to abuse their power, perhaps starting with good intentions. In so doing they suppress products for which there is a genuine, now under-served demand. Eventually some bright spark figures out a way to bypass the gatekeepers and tap the under-served market in a new way. This opens up new markets and there is a ‘land rush’. Eventually economies of scale kick in and the more successful players become gatekeepers.

    Then the cycle starts over again.

    My advice is to enjoy the land rush while it lasts, and remember that in the long run the producers and the customers will find a way to reach each other.

  • Albert1 said,

    Time to play Devil’s advocate.
    What you write obviously concerns me – your previous post made me take the first step in learning how to program Linux games – yet I came to a sad conclusion: sharew… ehm, indie developers need gatekeepers! Oh, by the way, a lot of gatekeepers aren’t really considered that way: not long ago Apple was generally considered a warm and tender refuge for orphans and young, lone mothers, while Micro$oft (the dollar sign is mandatory) was Hell-on-Earth. Even bundle organizers are – or have the potential to become – gatekeepers. And don’t you think they’d be different – a large part of the behavior displayed by actual gatekeepers is dictated by their role. Why do we actually need them? Because, as far as I know, the only indie that managed to aggregate enough crowd on his own site, in pre-big-portals era, is Jeff Vogel (and Cliffski?).
    Do you remember his old shareware related advices? He suggested to price your game at least $20, and in those days he was selling at $25-30! His last game is now $20, and I think that portals, to him, are way more important than they used to be. I’ve been using Ubuntu for two days, and I think that one of its selling points – at least to casual Linux users like myself – is its Sofware Center, which is a – mostly free – app store. Obviously, one of the first thing I thought was “if I want to try to sell Linux game, I’ve to get my game through that gate”! Also, like magnet that, if splitted, re-establish positive and negative poles in the resulting parts, as soon as a developer, particularly a money strapped indie one, gets accepted by the keeper, his/her interests change: they’re actually concerned by the outlanders too, because flooding the gate with stuff would make their game harder to spot, because the presence of more mature contents would discourage customers looking for the innocent kid platforms they produce… the list goes on and on. Lot of shades of gray. Reflexive Arcade was one of the first gates in our field – I wonder how many of the developers hosted there managed to get accepted by other gatekeepers. The alternative is being able to get lot of players directly to the producer’s site. It would be fantastic, but we’re actually unable to do that, because the other side of the equation is missing: the indie scene lacks press/coverage. I mean, decent websites where customers can find serious previews/reviews, not symphosium on how it’s cool and glamorous to be an indie developer. There are some sites, and lot of blogs with quasi-reviews, but they all suffer of that strange leftist/yuppish syndrome that make their writings as boring as hell. There are notable exceptions, of course: Rock paper shotgun, etc. But I still miss the good ol’ Game Tunnel! After all, portals are (almost) the only place where people can actually find (with more or less difficulty) what indie games have been released.