Microsoft's recent announcement that it would let community developers earn money for games they make with the company's XNA toolset came as good news to some, but former XNA community manager David Weller is concerned about the lack of quality standards. On his blog, Weller wrote:
Being an ex-XNA member, I can still say, without a shadow of doubt, that Microsoft is offering a groundbreaking game channel, and that some people stand a chance to make great money from the system. It's an exciting opportunity, but the danger for consumers lies in Microsoft's deliberate steps to avoid discussions regarding game quality, even during peer review.
It's similar, actually, to quality concerns about Xbox Live Arcade that ultimately led to Microsoft's announcement that underperforming titles would be delisted from the service. Is it as big an issue on the separate community games channel? Said Weller:
I firmly believe that avoiding commentary/ratings on game quality will result in frustrated consumers, who will have no way to discern the quality of a game among (ultimately) thousands. Of course, the game creator has the option of offering a trial game, but it will be interesting to see how many developers take advantage of that path, as it is not required [Edit: Peter Hatch points to a Wired article where Chris Satchell states that a timed trial will be enabled by default, but my concern about te lck of quality indicators still stands]. I doubt consumers will get a refund for buying a sucky game either.
Microsoft's position has always been that the community is self-policing; current XNA manager Chris Satchell told GamesIndustry that, "When you look at strong communities there is always a core that will work really hard to make sure community standards are maintained... a lot of submitted games do get rejected at first, due to either bugs or rating descriptors being inaccurate." Making money from your XNA game: The good and not-so-good [Let'sKillDave! via GamesIndustry]