iFEST Re-Cap – Chris Charla

On the scene at iFEST Seattle…

Chris Charla: “If it needs a tutorial, it probably won’t sell well”

Chris is currently Director of ID@XBox, Microsoft’s independent developer self-publishing program for Xbox One. He spoke in Seattle at iFEST about game design across platforms: phone, laptop, PC and console. Doing it smartly will allow an indie studio to sell more, have transportability, be able to market more effectively and participate in more promotional events.

Chris pointed out the limitations of each platform in terms of control and location where a game will be played. Certain types of games lend themselves to input with a fingertip and others with a controller or keyboard. Is the game going to be played on a bus with a handheld device, a pc or in a living room? This insight will help determine whether to “game across” platforms with the same look and feel, or to “franchise across” platforms with a similar related environment but different gameplay appropriate to the platform.

Encouraging indies to develop for the Xbox One, Chris indicated that developers can get two free dev kits from ID@XBox. He stated that applicants standout in the certification process when they list their website and previous games. A list of XR’s for the certification process is available as a download from the portal after dev kits are sent. Chris described several features of the developer’s portal including 3 developer’s events per year and private forums for developers only.

Asked what’s doing well, Chris described a typical decay curve after the 1st or 2nd day of sales. Possibly since there are not as many games available for the Xbox One, there have been bumps in game sales, but no decay curve. Commenting on genres, running guns have been popular as well as twin-stick shooters. Casual games have not sold well for the Xbox. Puzzle games seem to do better on touch devices. Racing games also have not performed well. “In general,” Chris stated, “if your game needs a tutorial it probably won’t sell well.”