A Destructoid community blogger broke the story that Microsoft are late in paying the developers for their work on games in the Xbox Live Indie Games MarketPlace. Developers are supposed to be paid quarterly for their work and should have received payment by September 30th. However, Microsoft does allow a generous 45 days for late payment to developers, but they are now almost 3 weeks behind this extended schedule.
Indie Developers have to pay an annual fee of $99 to enter the Indie Games Marketplace and then Microsoft take 33% of the games profit. Despite these high fees, it is still a great place for developers to showcase their work, and to get noticed in gaming. Notable games which have come from the service include Apple Jack, CastleMiner and I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1. As such XLIGM still offers developers a place to get noticed in this competitive industry, but the latest late payments have been noted as disrespectful by some developers.
Sean Doherty of Freelance Games creators of Trailer Park King spoke to me about his circumstances:
"Late payments effect my well being and cause tremendous amounts of stress. At one point 100% of my income came from MS XBLIG. In fact, there were times when I ran out of food and had to withdraw money from retirement funds just to pay the bills and eat.
Also, MS late payment policy, that's what I call it, has caused cash flow problems for me. It makes it nearly impossible to fund new games because contractors don't want to wait 3 months + 45 days to be paid for their work. That is the best case scenario, meanwhile Apple and Google (who totally rock) pay us Indie Game Devs Every month.
MS has been disrespecting Indie Game Devs for years by not paying them on time... Moreover, MS refuses to even acknowledging the poor manner they treat their XBLIG Devs."
Ian Campbell developer of Bootdisk Revolution however was less put out by Microsoft's mistakes:
"Eh, XBLIG has felt low-priority for a long time. It's too bad, but I'm sure they're working on it and will pay soon. For now I'd say it's disappointing but tolerable -- give it a few weeks and maybe I'll be more incensed about it!"
"Due to a technical issue in our payment system, we recently learned that some payments to selected developers in out Xbox Live Indie Games program on Xbox 360 were delayed. Our partners are important to us and we work hard to make sure they have a great development experience. This was an unfortunate error and we are working hard to fix it. We apologize for this incident and anticipate developers will receive payments in the next two weeks."
I reached out to Microsoft personally but I am still waiting for a response.
TechRaptor hopes that this is the case and developers will receive their payments soon. While it is encouraging that Microsoft has addressed this problem, one has to question whether they would have done so if the story had never gone to press. This is particularly worrying as around the holiday season people often struggle with money and rely on income like this.
What do you think? Is 5 weeks too late? Should Microsoft change their policy, or offer compensation?