The first Crossfire, meanwhile, hasn’t fared too well: originally released for 240 Microsoft Points (about £2), it meant that Schneider quickly got a lesson in the frugality of the customers who frequent the Indie Games marketplace.
“I ended up that dropping that back to 80 Microsoft Points [69p] after three months,” he says. “The amount of momentum that the game carried was small; overall, the revenue per download was higher, but the downloads dropped off a lot faster. Part of it’s because of the ratings – if you’re not in the top 20 ratings, you don’t get any downloads. Or it used to be that way; now everything’s a little bit more spread out – the top games are getting fewer downloads, but more games are getting downloaded overall.”
Schneider’s diplomatic about Microsoft’s involvement with the Indie Games’ community, acknowledging that the highly varied quality of games on the Indie Games marketplace makes it difficult for the company to promote it on 360’s dashboard. Nonetheless, the outcry over the recent update to the frontend, which demoted the Indie Games marketplace to another sub-tier of menus, has renewed Microsoft’s dialogue with indie developers. For his part, Schneider would like to see Microsoft nurture more keenly the bright lights of the Indie Games Marketplace, and ease their way to bigger developments. After all, he points out, indie devs are also behind some of Arcade’s biggest hits. Schneider says that the first step is to break the race-to-the-bottom price war, which has set consumer expectations low at a maximum of 80 Microsoft Points.
“A second tier might help to make higher-priced games more appealing to people,” he says. “If five- and ten-dollar games could have Achievements for indie games, and one- and two-dollar games couldn’t, that’d probably help.”
Although the introduction of Achievements would probably necessitate rigid regulation of the kind that Schneider has tried to escape, it’s true that the Marketplace as it stands doesn’t have an economy capable of sustaining larger developments. Although he’d like to work on slightly larger projects eventually, Schneider’s immediate ambitions are to finish Crossfire 2 and Inferno 2 – and preferably soon. He has no specific plans to jump platform after that, although he’s open to developing for other consoles. Setting up payment systems for PC seems too much of a hassle, and mobile development is also unlikely, for which he blames his big, unwieldy hands. In short, it looks like XBLIG will get to keep Radiangames for the immediate future.
“It’s getting close to where I can sustain my lifestyle,” sums up Schneider. “I’ve got a family and a house and stuff. It’s not like I spend huge amounts of money, but I’m just trying to get to about 60 per cent of what I was making at Volition. If I have ten games on the marketplace, I’ll probably make money.”