by Joseph Leray
Just Add Water's "Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty" -- an HD remake of 1997's "Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee" -- is coming to the Wii U and PlayStation 4, but not the Xbox 360 or One. Why?
"At the business level, Microsoft isn’t acknowledging people like us,” Oddworld Inhabitants boss and industry long-timer Lorne Lanning says. “It’s as if we don’t matter.”
Back during E3, Just Add Water announced that "Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty" was concept approved to be on Xbox Live Arcade: Microsoft has signed off on the game if the debs find a retail publisher or distribution partner. Oddworld Inhabitants doesn't qualify because they only publish digital games.
The "Oddworld" devs have had similar problems with their HD remasters of "Munch's Oddysee" and "Stranger's Wrath." Those remakes have been released on PlayStation Network but are nowhere to be found on Xbox Live Arcade, despite being original Xbox titles.
Unfortunately, Microsoft is sticking to its restrictive policies as they transition to the Xbox One.
"In order for us to give up the revenues we depend on as a share, [Microsoft] have to be bringing something of value to our sales," Lanning explained to VG247. "We haven't been doing badly ourselves. Maybe we'll be able to say, 'Hey, we'll be on Xbox too,' but right now people like us are clearly not in Xbox One's business model."
"And there's nothing we can do about that."
Microsoft's ban on independent self-publishing has been roundly criticized by studios like Polytron and Vblank. Even the perception that Microsoft is unfriendly toward indies -- the only Xbox One-exclusive I can think of is Capybara Games' "Below," for example -- is pushing developers away from the platform.
"It’s a bit puzzling. It’s clear they’re not listening. I’m not sure who they’re listening to," Lanning continued. "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 publicize that. Then they’d get people saying, ‘Hey, maybe there’s going to be a good change.’"
Meanwhile, Just Add Water's upcoming "Oddworld" games include a PS Vita version of "Munch's Oddysee HD" and "New 'n' Tasty," set for the PlayStation 3, Vita, Wii U, Windows, Mac, and Linux this holiday season, with a PlayStation 4 version to follow next year.
For more of Lanning's checkered history with Microsoft, check out his full interview with VG247 -- it covers the original Xbox's shaky European launch and includes full account of why "Stranger's Wrath" never made it onto XBLA.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter