Yesterday I posted some info that suggested a two-tier Xbox LIVE marketplace on Windows Phone 7, and that I thought it was a massive mistake on Microsoft's part. Today I had a lengthy chat with Paul Foster, a Microsoft Developer Evangelist, about that post. He wanted to give some more details about how things worked to avoid me having to draw my own conclusions.
We went into Xbox LIVE publishing in great detail, and I decided to get Paul to confirm some of the things we discussed by email so I could post them here, for those that had read my previous post and were worried. Paul was unable to answer all of the questions (due to various things being hush-hush at this time), but said he'll answer them when he can. Below I've included his answers, along with the outstanding questions we'll hopefully have answers for in the future!
Q: Will Microsoft engage directly with small companies/individuals that have great games, ready to publish (to become part of the managed portfolio)?
A: Microsoft's XBL team and importantly a range of 3rd party XBL publishers are looking out for new opportunities, in fact at GDC 2010 and Mix10 the firstname.lastname@example.org alias was advertised asking for indie games devs to submit their game concepts they are building. The important point here is that if you want your game to be a big success you have to do more than just post it into an app store. You need to think about it as a manuscript for a book and take it around various publishers to get opinion and seek publishing opportunities. Publishers have the skill and capability to market your game and find bigger publishing opportunities – such as XBL. Publishing by default into an app store isn't enough for success when big numbers of people are doing just that – you need to do more than just develop your game, you need to drive the commercial publishing of it and the ecosystem of XBL provides broad opportunities for publishing. If after doing all that, the best opportunity for you is to publish straight into the marketplace then work at advertising your game. Seek magazine or blog reviewers, publish videos of it and ensure you have a cool web landing page for it. None of this stuff costs much and can raise the profile of your game.
Q: How are managed/unmanaged portfolio games separated in the store (visually/category-wise)?
A: All apps/games are in the single app store, filed by various categories. There are various merchandising locations in the marketplace and in the Games hub – these will be driven by various metrics from the store as well as for apps/games of planned marketing activities.
The following questions are unanswered as yet, but it seems like the answers will be positive for indies!
Q: Will there be separate "top sellers" / "what's new"-type lists for managed/unmanaged portfolio games, or combined lists?
Q: Are managed/unmanaged games separated in search results (if I search by name)?
Q: Will there by managed/unmanaged portfolios of apps too, or games only?