Microsoft hasn't forgotten indies, says Press Play - "they're definitely heading in the right direction"

"I don't think Microsoft would have acquired us if they weren't interested in indies."

Is PlayStation Network becoming the new home of independent development, ousting the mighty Xbox Live Arcade? Does Microsoft's decision to cease support for the long-running XNA development toolset mean that it's less interested in small fry developers nowadays? Not a bit of it, says Press Play's lead designer Mikkel Thorsted, one of the minds behind promising platformer Max and the Curse of Brotherhood.

"It's something we have a hard time relating to," Thorsted told Eurogamer, when pushed on the subject. "I think people are wrong if they don't think Microsoft are looking into that, and trying to do what they can to adjust to how the market is changing.


"Of course they are, and it's actually also visible if you look at XBLA - there are free-to-play games, and there are more and more updates. It's a huge organisation, and they might be slow but they're definitely heading in the right direction."

Acquired by Microsoft in 2012, Press Play's manifesto is the stuff of anti-corporate daydreams. "We love the new and different as well as the popular," it reads. "We love game mechanics and fun stories and we love combining them all in our titles. We strive to make our games like a great book, a catchy pop tune or the first kiss."

Thorsted insists that the acquisition hasn't changed this bright and breezy approach. "We've been acquired in what Microsoft describes as a 'light touch' acquisition. We're keeping our studio very much as it was, but with the benefit of having Microsoft there. So we're basically as we was, but on the other side we have a lot of resources and insights we didn't have before. Which is a pretty good way to be protected.

"We're in Copenhagen, and our management is in Redmond, so it's pretty loose management in that sense - even though it's definitely there. Basically, we're describing ourselves as a corporate indie studio."

A little less encouragingly, Thorsted is "aware" that Xbox Live Arcade sales figures aren't what they used to be. "We saw Minecraft a year ago having sold god knows how many copies on XBLA, so we know that there's still an active audience. But we're definitely hearing the rumours about the activity not being what it used to be. We're just going to go with it, to see how well it does. We're crossing our fingers, but there's nothing we can really do about it."

As regards the all-important question of promotion, Thorsted admitted that Microsoft can't be relied on for full support - presumably in accordance with the aforesaid "light touch" policy. "We're kind of expecting to navigate as an indie studio. That way we're trying to do everything ourselves to get the right promotion to get the attention out there. Right now we kind of want to take care of that ourselves. And hopefully Microsoft will help make us more visible when it gets out there."

He's upbeat about the situation on the whole, however. "I don't think Microsoft would have acquired us if they weren't interested in indies. I think everyone knows that they're important."

Here's a round-up of developer responses to the "death" of XNA. What do you think of Microsoft's stance on indies right now?