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Twitter Spat Raises the Good, Bad of Working with Microsoft

A few days ago, Super Meat Boy developer Team Meat (aka Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes) appeared on the IndieGames.com podcast to talk about the aftermath of their game's release -- and also their upcoming roguelike project The Binding of Isaac.

One of the issues raised in the podcast, also discussed in the developer's postmortem article for Gamasutra back in April, was the "crunch" the team suffered as a result of having to get their game out in time for the fall "Game Feast" promotion on Xbox Live Arcade. Following the game's release, despite its considerable outperformance of Game Feast stablemates Comic Jumper and Hydrophobia, the team was never provided with the promotional launch bonuses they had been promised -- and which had been provided to the other games. These included an exclusive launch week, a #1 Spotlight slot and a review by Major Nelson. Instead, Super Meat Boy launched alongside Costume Quest, which had Tim Schafer's Double Fine name to draw on while Meat Boy was a relative unknown. Game Feast itself, meanwhile, had appeared to be a flop, with Comic Jumper and Hydrophobia coming in significantly under Microsoft's projections.

"To this day we are still unsure of why things went down the way they did," said McMillen and Refenes in their Gamasutra piece. "Was it that Microsoft simply wanted to detach itself from the Game Feast? Was it that they didn't believe we would perform as well as we did? Or was it just horrible luck at the most competitive time of the year for the game industry? Either way, by far the biggest mistake we made during SMB's development was killing ourselves to get into a promotion we would gain basically nothing from."

Yesterday, Pinball FX developer Zen Studios took exception to Team Meat's "highly dramatic rants" and chose to send an email to Gamertag Radio for publication, explaining that they had also launched during Game Feast, that Super Meat Boy was actually the poster boy for the whole campaign and that they had enjoyed the same support and promotion as everybody else -- including Team Meat.

"Is this a desperate attempt at marketing, PR... SALES?" read the email. "How come no one has mentioned that these guys have made millions -- is it to protect their 'we are indie and poor' image?"

This sparked off a lengthy, public and expletive-ridden (at least on Team Meat's side) Twitter spat between the two studios. McMillen and Refenes are tired of talking about the subject and claim they "closed the book on MS a year ago" -- their Gamasutra postmortem was published some seven months prior to their podcast appearance. Zen, meanwhile, was keen to point out the positive side of working with Microsoft, but believed that in itself wouldn't gain headlines, so decided to call Team Meat out publicly.

The two studios have since kissed and made up, and there's even a possibility of a Super Meat Boy Pinball FX2 table as a result of their "discussion." So all's well that ends well, at least.

This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Twitter Spat Raises the Good and Bad Sides of Working with Microsoft


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