Underperforming XBLA titles to be delisted

Darkpetzi

Swabbie
Banned
According to Joystiq, Microsoft plans to remove the games they consider too bad from the Xbox Live Arcade catalog.
The games to disappear have to meet 3 criteria: be at least six months old, have a Metacritic score below 65 and a conversion rate below 6%.

Since I guess WC Arena is close to the 6 months (if not already older) and have a Metacritic score of 51%, I was wondering if anybody had a idea of it's conversion rate.
Even if I don't really enjoy the game, I sincerely hope it's better than 6% otherwise we might say goodbye to the promised bright future of the franchise. Which would obviously be a pitty...
Any info on this?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
So buy Arena now and don't worry about some theoretical future where you can't buy it. Oh no, they aren't selling Privateer at GameStop what a vindication of my blah blah blah I hate you.

Regardless, this isn't going to happen for lots and lots of reasons - from the fact that Xbox Live is a closed circulatory system (anyone who can't get X, Y and Z achievement will scream bloody murder) to the fact that the game is available for purchase offline (on demo DVDs) to the fact that "delisting" (an entirely undefined concept) would require at the very least embarassing and at the very most breaking the contract of an entirely important 'second party' developer (in this case). It's cloud talk that's being angled to stir you in particular up. If you were actually worried you could go put Arena on an extra memory card to save for a rain day. Problem solved.

Also, you are a passive-aggressive paranoid doofus and I hope you get eaten by one of those fish that eats horrible things.

Also, is there any XBLA game ever with that low a conversion rate? Isn't it like 40% for even the worst games?
 

Karakkaze

Spaceman
One thing I'm wondering about is how to check conversion rates.

EVen though I wasn't very incredibly amazed by Wing Commander Arena, I don't think that it should go the way Secret Ops effectively did.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
One thing I'm wondering about is how to check conversion rates.

EVen though I wasn't very incredibly amazed by Wing Commander Arena, I don't think that it should go the way Secret Ops effectively did.

Which is what? Secret ops did just fine and was eventually bundled with Prophecy. It was a test of a delivery method ahead of it's time. And in that respect it was a success. What's more, Secret ops was initially given away *free.* basically as a gesture to all the fans that made the series a success. Personally I'd be more that happy if they started giving out Arena free as a promotion.
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
Which is what? Secret ops did just fine and was eventually bundled with Prophecy. It was a test of a delivery method ahead of it's time. And in that respect it was a success. What's more, Secret ops was initially given away *free.* basically as a gesture to all the fans that made the series a success. Personally I'd be more that happy if they started giving out Arena free as a promotion.

Yeah, actually a good example of this is Guild Wars. Guild Wars started by selling everyone the main campaign, then went on to sell three more "Expansions" that carried on the same story in the same game. Each one was self contained but also part of the large story - it's a great example of what episodic story-telling can do.

I'm not sure what he meant by the way of Secret Ops either. I still think Secret Ops episodic release was exciting. I'm very sad that I missed it - the excitement of coming back every week to download a new set of missions must have been intense!
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
One thing I'm wondering about is how to check conversion rates.

You can't. It's not information for you. Like LOAF said, the games we're talking about here are going to games that we (big Live Arcade fans) haven't even heard of. How many of us here bough Time Pilot, Gyruss or Boogie Bunnies? Alternately, something like this is potentially a clever marketing tool. If any game does get removed, it'll be announced three months in advance. What better motivator will anyone have at that point than "buy now, limited time only!" Each one of these delisted games will get a big shot in the arm prior to being released on disc later.

I'm not sure what he meant by the way of Secret Ops either. I still think Secret Ops episodic release was exciting. I'm very sad that I missed it - the excitement of coming back every week to download a new set of missions must have been intense!

Yeah, I'm trying to make sense of that too. Secret Ops was an incredible success. It was years ahead of its time and a truly amazing experience for Wing Commander fans lucky enough to be online in 1998 (a few years from now, we'll be talking about 16-player capship battles in Arena much the same way). It went on to be part of a much sought-after retail bundle, and even now - ten years later - Secret Ops forms the backbone of the Wing Commander modding scene. We can only hope that Arena goes "the way Secret Ops effectively did."
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Yeah, actually a good example of this is Guild Wars. Guild Wars started by selling everyone the main campaign, then went on to sell three more "Expansions" that carried on the same story in the same game. Each one was self contained but also part of the large story - it's a great example of what episodic story-telling can do.

I'm not sure what he meant by the way of Secret Ops either. I still think Secret Ops episodic release was exciting. I'm very sad that I missed it - the excitement of coming back every week to download a new set of missions must have been intense!

It's probably one of my favorite and best WC experiences. The game itself aside -which was actually pretty good - the anticipation of each new episode was great. I loved how it reminded me of the anticipation of waiting for the second part of a star trek cliff hanger or something like that. I'd race through the episode at the start of the week and then be itching to play the minute the next part was released. It's one thing to play secret ops on the Prophecy Gold CD but it was a completely different way to play if you were lucky to get in on the initial release. plus each week you would get a password at the end of the episode that would unlock specific fiction on the secret ops website which was tailored to how well you did in the mission. THere was lots of story even if it wasn't all presented in game per se.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
It wasn't just once a week that you had a treat to look forward to either. Your password unlocked new custom fiction on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then the new episodes posted Thursday, and you had all weekend to play through them. For two months straight, we were constantly immersed in new Wing Commander stuff. It was like a page of Star*Solder being released each day that everyone ate up and analyzed in detail.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
I have to agree with AD and Chris...The Secret Ops release period was one of the best WC experiences. With so many of us connected together through IRC, usenet and a just born CIC, it became quite the experience with endless hours of tension as we all waited for Thursday to come around while we stewed over the new fiction.
 

Darkpetzi

Swabbie
Banned
LOAF, I know my English isn't that good but I'm pretty sure I said I was worried about the franchise, not the actual game (which I bought and, throw stones at me if you want, I don't play anymore for many reasons). I always considered Arena as a test run for a possible future rebirth of the whole WC universe (I also miss the Secret Ops time).

I can assure you that breaking a contract with a 'second party developer' as you say isn't a problem at all for companies such as Microsoft. They have very good lawyers and I don't know if you've already seen such kind of contract but it's extremely easy for a publisher to break them without any damage. They can find many excuses (like a delay in a milestone, TCRs not respected, etc...). Even if it's not fair for the developer.
Another reason is that there are thousands of other developers ready to take the spot.
Microsoft wouldn't lose anything (except fans I guess).

Your last line would have been a sufficient answer. At least if I take it granted you have at least a slight idea of what you're talking about.

As for the rest of your answer...
 

Karakkaze

Spaceman
You can't. It's not information for you.

So it's not a Public thing. Yeah, it's really nice to not know if Wing Commander Arena's in danger of being pulled. Do you really care that little?


And we don't even know if we'll still be able to play the titles if they're pulled from X-Box Live Arcade. The entire point of Wing Commander Arena's online play might be destroyed and we not even know it!


And by "going the way of Secret Ops" I mean that it basically gets shrouded in obscurity as not even being listed as a game by most people, who say that the series ended at Prophecy.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I can assure you that breaking a contract with a 'second party developer' as you say isn't a problem at all for companies such as Microsoft. They have very good lawyers and I don't know if you've already seen such kind of contract but it's extremely easy for a publisher to break them without any damage. They can find many excuses (like a delay in a milestone, TCRs not respected, etc...). Even if it's not fair for the developer.

That's not the point - given sufficient money and interest (... and that doesn't exist here, of course) any contract can be broken. The point here is that the *SECOND* party developer in question is Electronic Arts -- the same Electronic Arts that Microsoft would like to continue developing massive exclusives like Rock Band. I'm sure Microsoft can do whatever they want to some small *third* party company like Gaia (Street Trace NYC), for better or for worse... EA is a different deal.
 

Darkpetzi

Swabbie
Banned
Ok, sorry, I didn't understand you were talking about EA (which in this case is just the publisher and owner of the IP). I thought you meant Gaia (as the developer - I didn't stop on the 'second' instead of 'third' because in the case of a small XBLA title, the second party just 'gives' the money. For EA, it's like doing free t-shirts for them, the XBLA is good for their image but they won't really earn any money on it).
I agree with what you say about the EA-MS partnership, that's definitely going to last.
But if the IP doesn't work, why would EA invest in it again? Let's face it, Arena is a minor title for EA, I wouldn't make any difference for them if MS decided to delist it.
Even worse, EA would probably start thinking that the WC IP or/and Gaia (depending on the scores of their other games) is worthless and they'd probably thank MS for helping them saving money.
Maybe I'm a bit af an alarmist but I witness almost everyday at work how this industry works. It's way too money-driven and nobody cares about developers or players in this world (except the smallest publisher who can't afford investing in a game/IP/whatever to eventually cancel it, but it's clearly not the case here).
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I don't think you understand Gaia's role here -- they're simply the development house that EA paid to program the game for them. They hold no rights to the title, make no money off its release and have no investment in its presence on Xbox Live. It's all Electronic Arts.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
Everything about this thread makes my brain hurt.

I can't even believe we have people in the world that would trust a website like joystiq for any kind of information.
 

Darkpetzi

Swabbie
Banned
I don't think you understand Gaia's role here -- they're simply the development house that EA paid to program the game for them. They hold no rights to the title, make no money off its release and have no investment in its presence on Xbox Live. It's all Electronic Arts.

That's excatly what I said. Gaia is the developer and EA is the IP owner (and co-publisher).
Gaia needs EA (or any other publisher) to be able to pay it's employees (and the computers, the building, the bills and so on...) and the game has to be released for them to financially 'survive'. (Otherwise, it means they broke the contract, which may kill them). And their investement on its presence on the Live is their reputaion and their 'visibility'.
On the other hand, EA doesn't 'need' Gaia (yet).
But Gaia is not the problem, it's just an outsourcer after all...

My point is, if the game get removed, what will EA do (if they do anything)?
If they think the failure is due to the quality of the game, then fine, let's just blame Gaia. Maybe somebody else will have the opportunity to make a WC game for EA.

But what if they blame the IP? What if 'the suits' at EA think WC isn't interesting enough (financially) nowadays? Then it's the end of WC (for now) while Arena should have been a new start for it. You see what I mean?

But I think we're going off topic. Sorry for that.
So no clue on the conversion rate?
May I take your 40% as a rather serious info or is it just something you said to counter me? Because I'm not working for EA so you probably have better contacts (with the guys from Gaia for exemple) than I do.


PS: I work in a development house quite similar to Gaia and we were considering making a XBLA game (cheap) in case we wouldn't get the funds for our 'big' project (expensive). So I perfectly understand everyone's role and how things work.

PPS: Joystiq is quoting another source.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Yeah, it's really nice to not know if Wing Commander Arena's in danger of being pulled. Do you really care that little?

Think before you post. You're about a dozen years short of being able to make a crack like that.

And by "going the way of Secret Ops" I mean that it basically gets shrouded in obscurity as not even being listed as a game by most people, who say that the series ended at Prophecy.

"Most people" who actively spend time on forums in 2008 aren't even familiar with chart-shattering games like WC3 or Prophecy. It makes no difference what they think about Secret Ops. Nobody here or who followed the series would think that, and that's all that matters.

But what if they blame the IP? What if 'the suits' at EA think WC isn't interesting enough (financially) nowadays? Then it's the end of WC (for now) while Arena should have been a new start for it. You see what I mean?

So once again, Microsoft isn't going to slight EA by touching any of its games. It costs them nothing to continue hosting Arena, they just want to clear the clutter in the store. They're going to drop the no-name games, not anything from major publishers or from actual franchises.

Moreover, if Arena is so awful and sold so poorly that it gets delisted, then EA is already well aware of this and what's done is done. Removing it from the store makes absolutely no difference.

But like you said earlier, that's unfounded alarmist talk. Forget for a minute all the stupid internet that constantly bashes EA as a giant unfeeling monolithic company. Remember that EA is full of intelligent people that play games and are trying to do a good job. Lots of people within EA are huge fans of Wing Commander and want to do more with the franchise. Arena was an opportunity to do something, and it can only increase awareness and up the chances for more Wing Commander stuff down the line.
 

Karakkaze

Spaceman
So once again, Microsoft isn't going to slight EA by touching any of its games. It costs them nothing to continue hosting Arena, they just want to clear the clutter in the store. They're going to drop the no-name games, not anything from major publishers or from actual franchises.

It seems you forgot what the criteria for removing a game is:

- 6 Months old
- Metacritic score below 65
- Conversion rate below 6% on the service.

No exceptions for franchise or major companies mentioned anywhere in Microsoft's statement.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
It seems you forgot what the criteria for removing a game is:

Strike Two. Keep 'em coming.

- 6 Months old
- Metacritic score below 65
- Conversion rate below 6% on the service.

No exceptions for franchise or major companies mentioned anywhere in Microsoft's statement.

It doesn't matter. There's no press release or comprehensive announcement anywhere (nor should there be, it's between publishers and Microsoft). All of this comes from a few off-the-cuff remarks in an interview. They're just guidelines to clear clutter, not some kind of self-imposed law to piss off its biggest partners.
 

Karakkaze

Spaceman
ChrisReid said:
There's no press release or comprehensive announcement anywhere (nor should there be, it's between publishers and Microsoft).

I just want to ask: Are you saying that there should be no confirmed list of titles to be removed from X-Box Live Arcade?
 
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