Lorne Lanning, creator of the Oddworld series of videogames, has heavily criticised Microsoft's Xbox One, saying that the PR and marketing representatives involved with the console should all be fired.
In an interview with VG24/7, Lanning criticised Microsoft's approach to small, independent game developers, saying that the company has made it extremely difficult for "indie" games to succeed on the Xbox:
"At the business level, Microsoft isn't acknowledging people like us. It's as if we don't matter. Quite frankly, out of Washington, we see a pretty good understanding of who makes really expensive great games, but beyond that there's not really any insight into how people get there from nothing.
"It's a bit puzzling. It's clear they're not listening. I'm not sure who they're listening to. Whoever their PR people are, whoever their marketing agents are, they should fire them all. That's where they should start. There should be a big, mass firing and they should publicise that."
Microsoft has already stated that independent game-makers will be unable to self-publish on the Xbox One and will be required to undergo a certification process before being included on the console's digital store. By contrast, Sony has stated that indie developers will be able to publish themselves on the upcoming PlayStation 4, and has heavily publicised its support of independent games, particularly at this year's E3.
Lanning said he was "floored at how open Sony's been" adding the company had been, in his opinion, "really smart and prophetic". He also discussed the efforts of his company, Oddworld Inhabitants, to get its game Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath onto the Xbox 360 digital store, saying that even then, Microsoft was un-cooperative:
"The target kept on moving, and eventually we couldn't get clear answers for 15 months. We don't have five biz dev [business development] guys and two attorneys and some PR people to send up there to roll out whatever carpets you have to roll out to get attention. We were like, 'Look. We're on seven other networks. It's been no-brainers on all of them. We're not asking you for money. We're not asking you for advertising.'
"Then we release on PSN (PlayStation Network) and we get a mail the next day that says, 'Oh, you released on PSN at a lower price point, you didn't meet our margins, sorry you can't be on the system.' Boom. And that was it.
"When we listen to them talk," Lanning added "we have to laugh. It's pure rhetoric."
Microsoft has come under fire from game developers before. Both Minecraft Markus "Notch" Persson and Valve founder Gabe Newell criticised the company's Windows 8 operating system for PCs, saying the certification process required before games could be included on the Windows Store was too restrictive.
During a recent presentation at the Develop conference in Brighton, Mark Cerny, the PlayStation 4's chief architect, said he aimed to make the console as simple to develop for as possible and hopes to foster a catalogue of PS4 games comparable in size to that of the original PlayStation, which launched in 1994.
"I've watched [Microsoft] make this mistake before," Lanning concluded. "When they were launching the first Xbox - and we were a launch title on that - it was an exciting time as well. We did a European tour before Xbox released, and I was with Peter Molyneux and other designers of note, and we met with the press in Germany and France. We could not talk about the games. The press were so irate about the price point, about the way they were handling the euro in different territories, and we couldn't talk about the games. We couldn't get in that discussion, and they wanted to hammer on Microsoft.
"We got back to the States and we were like, 'You've got a big problem. You're sinking, tanking in Europe.' 'No, no, no, no. You don't understand. We've got our numbers covered.' We could not get them to avoid the train wreck that was right in front of them. You know what this feels like? Déjà vu."