Rubicon's big mistake was 'expecting a tablet-only store'
A developer who complained that a lack of support had been ‘killing’ his Windows RT-only game has been granted a promotional spot by Microsoft.
Paul Johnson of Rubicon went on the attack in a blog post last week to reveal that the Windows RT port of his well-received iOS and Android game, Great Big War Game, had made a meagre £52 in its first week on sale.
He blamed the game’s slow start on platform holder Microsoft and what he saw as its unwilling attitude to offer promotional support to independent developers.
In an interview with PocketGamer.biz, Johnson revealed that a PC publishing agreement with another party restrict his game to just Microsoft’s Surface tablet rather than Windows 8 as a whole. The game’s status as a Windows RT-only release was also believed to be behind Microsoft’s decision not to feature it.
Now, however, Johnson has deleted his original blog post and revealed that Microsoft have been in touch and offered to help “iron out the problems”. Great Big War Game has now been given a featured spot on the Windows App Store.
The game is now listed among Microsoft's new releases spotlight, and has a place in the marketplace’s noteworthy games category.
As a result of this promotion, Great Big War Game is now climbing Surface’s top paid games rundown – currently within the top 10.
Speaking to PocketGamer.biz after the game’s boost, Johnson said: “When Microsoft got back in touch with us, it did explain that the big spotlight thing is still only applicable for across-the-board Windows 8 products, but there is some discretion about what it could do locally on RT.
“I guess this is the result and I'm overjoyed to see it.”
Some developers have criticised Rubicon, saying that it’s complaints were built around “a sense of self-entitlement”, but Johnson claims it’s never been about that.
“Our core issue is, and always has been, the lack of any notion of a separate marketplace just for tablet customers. I still don't understand that, but it's Microsoft's bat and their ball so I guess I shouldn't complain,” he said.
“I would've preferred it if somebody had told us this before we dived in though, as the other big players all do it differently.”
He points out that Microsoft doesn’t have a separate marketplace for its tablet customers, so the game could not be labelled ‘tablet-only’ on its storefront, because some tablets, including Microsoft’s forthcoming Surface Pro, run the full version of Windows 8.
Johnson added: "Our big mistake was expecting there to be a tablet only store when we started this several months ago, which would've allowed us to promote this tablet game as the tablet game it is.
"That there isn't even the concept of a tablet store of course rules all of that out completely, and left us with a product aimed at the smallest possible subset of customers, without possibility of additional aid.
Despite the “shitstorm” he caused with his blog, Johnson said his “local Microsoft developer support contacts have never been anything short of excellent”.