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Microsoft Explains the Lumines Live! Mess 57

1up has up a discussion with Microsoft's Greg Canessa, Group Manager for Xbox Live Arcade. There, he attempts to explain what's the deal with Lumines Live!. Specifically, why are they charging us an arm and a leg for a rerelease of an already well-sold portable title? "That's actually done by the developer. As a platform, we provide a list of available price tiers. And we work very closely, of course, with the developer. We provide suggestions and it is a consultation between the two companies, but ultimately it is up to the developer to set the price." I'm looking at you, Q!.
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Microsoft Explains the Lumines Live! Mess

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  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @01:30PM (#16562970)
    "It's unfortunate that some people just sort of take the approach of, "oh, blame Microsoft first for everything;" that's not really constructive."
    Okay sure... but this is a Microsoft published product (via XBox Live... I can't go to the store and purchase it) purchased using Microsoft Points (r)(tm) where 1600 points = $19.99 (or sometimes $24.99) and downloaded from Micrsofot XBox Live, a proprietary network built and run by Microsoft and accessible only via the XBox360, another Microsoft product.

    So sure, Q! got greedy... but the gatekeepers let it happen. And the ultimate reflection is on the publisher and service provider. Microsoft.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "We won't give you this game to publish unless we can charge $20 for it."

      What are your options?
      * Ask nicely for them to reduce the price.
      * Tell them to go shove it.
      * Accept their terms, hope someone buys it.

      Saying Microsoft let it happen for setting the price on points is like saying that the US Government let gas prices get high because they print money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_skywise ( 189793 )
        No, I'm saying that if Wal-Mart printed money then released this product exclusively at Wal-Mart stores as part of their Wal-Mart games service and then complained that they had no control over pricing...

        Well you get the picture...

        (And are you saying that nobody complains that the US Government has let gas prices get too high?)

      • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @01:57PM (#16563476)
        Wait, you suddenly expect MS to be completely reasonable and not take dictatorial control over something they have 100% control over?

        MS does not -have- to put anything on XBLA that they don't want to. They could have said 'Sorry, no, that's bullshit' when the deal started and none of this would have happened.

        The truth is, MS knew this was a sleazy way to sell the game. They wanted to see what would happen if they tried to sell something like this, and they found a scapegoat company to try it on.

        So yeah, as well as those options you gave above, add:

        * Make them sign a contract and THEN tell them how much they'll charge.
        * Convince them to sell it for too much, and in a sleazy pay-for demo version, and watch what happens, in case it's a good way to do business in the future.
        • by C0rinthian ( 770164 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @02:08PM (#16563726)
          MS does not -have- to put anything on XBLA that they don't want to. They could have said 'Sorry, no, that's bullshit' when the deal started and none of this would have happened.
          And if they did this then Sony would still have an exclusive on a successful puzzle game. Yes, MS doesn't HAVE to put Lumines on XBLA. But I bet they REALLY wanted to.
          • Even better. If it fails, then they've just backstabbed someone know to give aid and comfort to the enemy.
          • by tepples ( 727027 )
            And if they did this then Sony would still have an exclusive on a successful puzzle game.

            Exclusive my backside. The homebrew clone [pineight.com] was available on the Internet before the PSP was out in Europe. Commercially, perhaps.

            • by ectal ( 949842 ) *
              It's a very fine line between Exclusive and "Not Really Exactly Exclusive if You Don't Mind Your Eyes Bleeding".
            • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
              People play Lumines for the graphics and music, not the gameplay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Erwos ( 553607 )
      But is it really Microsoft's responsibility to tell publishers what they can or cannot sell? Should they be strong-arming folks even MORE than they already do now? The cure, I think, is worse than the disease.

      I also disagree with your contention that Microsoft is the publisher for Lumines Live. They only control the distribution medium. If a publisher has an exclusive deal with GameStop for some game, does that make GameStop the publisher? I think not. Microsoft isn't going to take as much heat as you'd thi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_skywise ( 189793 )
        I also disagree with your contention that Microsoft is the publisher for Lumines Live. They only control the distribution medium.


        Publishing is putting something on a distribution medium.
      • But is it really Microsoft's responsibility to tell publishers what they can or cannot sell?

        Oddly this is reminiscent of the UMD fiasco with Sony.

        SCE provided the tools and ability to create movie UMDs without setting any standards like price, or special features.

        Movie houses jumped on the format and offered crappy movies, without commentary, for an outrageous price.

        Sony is going to try to relaunch the format, but they are also going to set standards for price-points and what has to be on the disk.

        Likewise

    • by Lectoid ( 891115 )
      Microsoft: Ok, you can sell it, but not for an amount that is divisable by the pre-set Microsoft Points we sell on Live.

      http://ce.seekingalpha.com/article/17895 [seekingalpha.com]

    • That's bull. If it happened the other way around, and Microsoft prevented some company from selling a product for a price MS thought was too low, everyone would be up in arms about how Microsoft shouldn't be interfering, and that it should be a free market, and publishers should be able to charge what they want.

      • So you think Microsoft doesn't protect its other producers from a rogue game company trying to undercut the competition?
    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      Why should Microsoft interfere? If the price is too high the publisher will pretty quickly notice the lack of sales. Microsoft isn't Sony, they aren't forcing their perception of what a game is worth upon others.
  • by AcidLacedPenguiN ( 835552 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @01:45PM (#16563202)

    look at how he plays with the words, his answer to every one of those questions is "It's a complete game, you can buy more levels" I've played it already, and it is not the complete game. I could see it as making sense if they decided you get v and w game modes if you buy the base package, and if you buy the addon pack you get game modes x y and z. They actually give you multiplayer and one single player mode, then one level of the other modes, which on completion tell you to buy more if you want to continue playing.

    Personally, I think that's absolutely wrong. They should say something more along the lines of "Congratulations! You've won! If you want additional challenges buy the next package!" For some reason, it seems better if you're told there is more to play if you want, not that you must buy more to finish the game. This is a problem in semantics, that is all. Q! comes off as greedy in this deal, and Microsoft comes off as ignorant, it truly is a pity. I was going to buy Lumines Live until I found out about this, hopefully our wallets will let Microsoft and Q! know that this is unacceptable.

    • Yeah I agree. When I first saw Lumines on the PSP I really wanted the title but I wasn't about to buy a PSP just for it. when I heard it was coming to the XBLA I was excited because I already own an Xbox 360. The really dirty tactics here have made me avoid this title.

      I can understand splitting up the game into a couple of chunks. IIRC one of the "rules" for selling an Arcade game on Xbox live is that it must be
      While I really want to play this game, and I would be more then happy to pay $20 for this ti
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        CRAP I put a "less than" sign in there and cut off half of my post... here is how it should have been:

        Yeah I agree. When I first saw Lumines on the PSP I really wanted the title but I wasn't about to buy a PSP just for it. when I heard it was coming to the XBLA I was excited because I already own an Xbox 360. The really dirty tactics here have made me avoid this title.

        I can understand splitting up the game into a couple of chunks. IIRC one of the "rules" for selling an Arcade game on Xbox live is that
  • by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @01:45PM (#16563222)
    ... before it gets better

    http://www.gamespot.com/news/6160388.html [gamespot.com]
  • by 7Prime ( 871679 )
    FTA:

    "Really what we're hoping is that people will take a look at what we're trying to do and we're trying to price things -- and the developers are trying to price things for what they think is a good price point for the development investment they've put into this content. Remember, this stuff costs money to make."

    So, what you're saying is that we're supposed to think that everyone's out to make us (the consumers) happy and realize that Microsoft and the Developers are all really generous and caring or

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      So, what you're saying is that we're supposed to think that everyone's out to make us (the consumers) happy

      There's nothing there about the motivation of the developers except for the profit motive... I dunno where you're pulling the idea of try-to-make-the-consumer-happy bit from.

      and that we should just collectively shut our yap?

      Yes, please.

      It's very simple... buy|notbuy. As a consumer, you have that choice, I don't know what you're getting so upset about.

  • Phase 2: Developer wants to make money, so price drops
    Phase 3: Consumer Benefits, Developer Profits!!!

    Yay economics 101!
    • yeah but have we seen the price drop on any of the Xbox Live Arcade titles? Considering these are games selling for $5 and $10 what would you expect the price to drop to? And even if they did drop the $15 price of the Base Lumines Pack... you'd still have to pay for the extra $7.50 worth of content.
    • by Dev59 ( 953144 )
      I get the feeling that many price drops we see at retail are spurred by the retailers and not the publishers. With online distribution, I've noticed that it takes much, much, much longer for prices to drop (when they actually do).
  • .. that Microsoft are now allowing companies to release buggy games and patch them via Live. Don't believe me? Microsoft's policy on X-Box 1 was that no patches were allowed. Hence, games had to be near perfect. What few minor bugs there were were hardly show stoppers. Then they relaxed their policy and with X-Box 360, there have been titles that erased your save, nuked your hi-score and more. I didn't buy a 360 so I could deal with the same kind of release-then-patch crap I got on the PC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sinistar2k ( 225578 )
      Ha ha, what? I distinctly recall some Halo patching going on with the first Xbox, so their policy wasn't exactly solid before the 360.

      There were also patches for Splinter Cell, WrestleMania 21, Unreal Championship, Stacked, and Rainbow Six 3.

      Mind you, that's not very many patched titles considering the number of releases for the Xbox, but it does suggest that patching Xbox games was not verboten.
    • Eh, which titles does this to your savegames and hiscores on the X360?
    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      The policy was "no patches that don't affect online play". That's why they blocked the Thief 3 difficulty patch. I think it makes sense since only people who play online are likely to have access to downloadable patches.
  • by Turken ( 139591 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @02:47PM (#16564578)
    Ultimately, it is the developer that sets the price... but only after lots of consultation and suggestion from Microsoft? How much of a cut does MS get from each sale? Does that cut change depending on what the price of the software is?

    If Microsoft is actively influence the developers and making more money when developers raise the prices and/or split software into multiple pieces, then yes, we are justified in blaming MS for being too greedy.

    It looks to me like MS got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and is now trying to find a scapegoat to pin the blame on.
  • With the orignal xbox people were up in arms about Microsoft demanding control and and blamed them for EA and others not wanting to play that way. Now Microsoft has loosened up and given the publishers more control and people are bitching that Microsoft needs to demand control. So which is it? Complain with your wallet, if you dont agree with the pricing structure, then dont buy it.
  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @02:57PM (#16564788)
    Let's look at it this way. I assume I run a mall, and we got 3 game stores (we are kewl like that). And a fourth opens up. They charge 200 percent more than the other malls. That's fine because it's competition. But remember I run the mall, not the store.

    Let's look at it another way, Assume I now have those 4 stores. Store four is not doing well, they decide to drop their prices to half the price of the other stores. This is troubling because then everything becomes sales and in fighting. But again I run the mall, if the contract/lease says so (and you better believe Microsoft can do this), I can remove that store from my mall.

    I'm sorry Microsoft, you own the marketplace. If you disagree you pull support. There's a lot of competition to even get ON the marketplace, and guess what. You run it so you decide who gets on. Pull support from Lumines, and give it to someone better. Stop allowing people to over charge for games on your service because it has ruined what was a giant boon for you.

    Microsoft also charges companies for ever thing on the marketplace (whether it's a share of the profits or a flat rate for patches). I'm sure they are getting rich off the over price because how ever many units sold I'm sure they get a couple bucks. It benefits them to make us pay multiple times.

    " You know about Arcade, but, you know, for Marketplace, we have over 1,500 pieces of content in Marketplace; we have over 70 million downloads. " Again we use weasel numbers. 70 Million DOWNLOADs. notice he doesn't meantion purchases. How many people download a demo? I'd be willing to put it in the 200K on the first week (Saint's row got 300K at record highs).

    Microsoft realizes they don't have to be competetive any more. They can back anyone they want, just like they do with their OS business, because they are the only ones out. Sony has lost a huge amount of faith from consumers so what does Microsoft have to realize.

    And realize not a single game has dropped in price on the Marketplace since it's been released. Why should they? There's not used games out there to compete with, there's no other way to get this game. They actually have a monopoly on it to the point you no longer can get it elsewhere. Why do you think people have been so anti download service consoles. Because of this exact situation, you'll no longer have an alternative then to pay the price Microsoft demands.

    In a related news, I wrote microsoft talking about the fact that this is a horrible move. Guess what I got back. Instruction on how to connect my Xbox 360. I'm not even joking. Don't think this is the end, because Microsoft will continue to screw customers on the Xbox Live Marketplace until we say "enough", we've seen it with Windows, Office, and now they have pulled back their lips and shown what they have started on the console market.
    • You might want to try hunting down one of the live developers and posting on their blog or emailing them directly. Support really isn't going to help you a whole lot.
      • I really didn't expect help. I was outraged at their business practice, and sent them a letter telling them so. Will it change anything? No, but at least they'll know how a lot of these new games they've released on the marketplace has lost them business there if anything.

        The thing that makes me mad and the reason I bring it back is my email had nothing to do with getting my system online, and that's the only response I ever got. I didn't expect a response even though they promised one. But giving a co
    • by Thanatos69 ( 993924 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @03:51PM (#16565754)
      I guess you can reword anything to make another look bad.

      Microsoft owns the "store" not the "mall". Publisher says they will sell a game in their store for $x, this game will bring people into the store so they charge a premium for it. MS says no, we don't want to sell the game for that price, publisher says okay, we'll just take it elsewhere, any traffic associated with our game will now go elsewhere. MS says okay, you win, sell it at that price.... people whine that the store owner is being a jerk because they are selling it at what the publisher says.

      Here is another example, Office Depot makes a whole profit of $5 per laptop that they sell, most profit comes from accessories. Are they the jerks because their laptops are still pricier than say, Future Shop? Well I guess they could sell it at a loss, the maker still makes all the profit and they lose shelving space, sales person time trying to sell it and all other costs associated with selling something in their store.
      • MS says no, we don't want to sell the game for that price, publisher says okay, we'll just take it elsewhere, any traffic associated with our game will now go elsewhere. MS says okay, you win, sell it at that price....

        Yes, poor helpless Microsoft -- totally at the mercy of the publishers who take advantage of their Live service.

        Or, maybe what would really happen in that situation -- if Microsoft said "no" and the publisher said "too bad" -- the game would never be sold *anywhere*.

        Or, most likely, if Microso
  • Now he doesn't have to make his favorite gaming company look bad anymore, at least on this subject. Note how he accepts Microsoft's shifting the blame for this rip-off without question. I dare anyone to imagine, without laughing, Zonk doing the same thing regarding a game on Sony's online service.

    Rob
  • I already said this in the last Lumines thread, but it's worth saying again:

    Nobody reasonable is pissed off about Lumines being broken up into downloadable content packages. I think the general consensus all around is that selling the game in this way is an interesting and totally acceptable way of doing business. But the base package for Lumines sells for $15, which is a premium price, more than any other piece of content in the XBox Live arcade at this time. For a premium price, people expect a premium
    • by Xugumad ( 39311 )
      Yes! Someone who understands; a lot of people go "But it was $40 on the PSP!". Here's the thing; I wouldn't have paid $40 for it. I also wouldn't have paid 1,200 Microsoft points for what I got. 800, sure, puts it in line with similar puzzle games, and you can get extras for it later. 1,600 for everything, probably. But 1,200 and then 600 points for each of the extra 3 packs? You've got to be kidding me.

      Also, when I buy something labelled "Full game", I don't expect it to tell me I have to pay extra to play
  • "And not have to stick it to every gamer, many of whom don't want additional content, and having to raise the price for everybody, and stick it to 'em by forcing everyone to buy all of the content."

    Oh... what? I'm pretty sure everyone prefers MORE content in their games, rather than less. What the hell? I can see it now... "DUDE this is fucking SWEET I beat the game in 8 minutes! Man I own! There's only 3 levels but whatever, right? This shit is CRAZY!"

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