The landscape of the gaming industry probably looks fine and dandy to most casual gamers. I mean, if you buy whatever your friends buy or your purchase a game because you seen a commercial for it, you probably think nothing of the politics, strong-arming, and corporate tug-of-war that goes on behind the scenes. Core gamers are all up in that flame-war, though.
Valve’s president, Gabe Newell, recently spoke out about Microsoft’s almost police-state environment that they have setup for Xbox Live, basically saying that it works against what a lot of developers would love to do for the service and the games. In an interview with Develop, Newell told them that…
“There's a huge amount of updates and free content we've been able to deliver to people who have The Orange Box that we haven't been able to deliver to the Xbox because of the restrictions that have been placed on us on Xbox Live.”Newell isn’t the first to run into this hurdle. Microsoft has very strict policies when it comes to Xbox Live and it’s one of the main reasons why tons of Live Arcade games haven't seen the light day on the marketplace and why a lot of free-to-play MMOs that were originally announced for the Xbox 360, have yet to appear on the Xbox 360 and won’t be appearing for some time, including The Secret World, Mabinogi, Huxley Age of Conan and Blade & Soul, amongst others.
The main issue comes in with Microsoft’s authentication and certification process, which has been a hold-up for a lot of developers, including the studio behind the upcoming game Wrecked: Revenge Revisited, which hit a few snags and had to go through the strenuous re-certification process before receiving a release date. Of course, with most free-to-play MMOs it would be a nightmare trying to update cash shop items, content and patches with the current Xbox Live safeguards in place.
Newell, however, had a different tone for Sony’s PlayStation Network, despite not being a fan of the PS3’s hardware architecture, Newell stated that…
Other developers on the PS3 are starting to benefit from Sony's more open approach. Hopefully that will help Microsoft see that's a good strategy for making customers happy, that the barbarians won't tear down the walls of Xbox and turn it into some chaotic wasteland.”Even if Microsoft did relax their restrictions for Xbox 360 content via Xbox Live, it doesn’t give developers a whole lot of time to exercise their freedom before a new Xbox console drops. But then again, some progress would be better than none at all.