Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath should, at this very moment, be sitting proudly in your Xbox 360′s hard drive, having been played to death multiple times by now. After all, our gaming brothers and sisters over on the Playstation 3 have had this fantastic classic title available to them since December, and have been happily rubbing our faces in it. So what’s holding it up? Why don’t we have this game that was originally an Xbox exclusive? The answer: Microsoft are being dicks.
“they (Microsoft) turned us down again time to get the big guns out!” Tweeted Just Add Water, the current keepers of the Oddworld name.
Since September 2010, Just Add Water have been trying to get Microsoft to publish either the original Strangers Wrath or their recent HD remake on Xbox Live Arcade or Games on Demand - a seemingly perfect fit. And yet since September 2010 Microsoft have done nothing but hinder the release, citing various reasons along the way. One such reason was that Xbox Live Arcade has a 2GB size limited, which is due to a hardware restriction, yet Just Add Water say that they’ve got that problem sorted.
So what’s the problem now? Well, according to Just Add Water’s Twitter account, it’s twofold: The first is that Microsoft are claiming that the game must score a Metacritic of 80 or more to be eligible release on Arcade or Games on Demand, yet the original Xbox exclusive game has a Metacritic score of 88, while the HD version of Strangers Wrath released on PSN has a score of 82.
“They FAIL,” Tweeted Just Add Water. And rightly so, because Microsoft clearly didn’t pay attention to maths class in school.
The second reason is that Microsoft have now turned around and said that the original game needs to have sold at least a million copies to be eligible, which Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath did not, despite having one hell of a cult following.
Growing frustrations at Microsoft were definitely showing when Just Add Waters CEO, Stewart Gilray, was speaking to a Twitter follower of his who had said, “MS/Sony should get with the future / offer cheap dev kits an Apple-like AppStore, take a %, and get out of the way.”
Stewart Gilray replied,”we’d love MS to do that, as yet again they have cock blocked us :(“
It’s nice to see that Stewart isn’t afraid to actually speak his mind, rather than wrap everything up on hundreds of layers of PR nonsense like most companies do. Kudos to you Gilray, kudos. If only more people were like you.
Just Add Waters also confirmed that they’re looking into a third party to publish their game. “MS do NOT want it at all via first party. MS do not want to publish it, so third party here we come!” they tweeted. This raises the question of whether EA would be willing to pick up the game, since they published the original, or perhaps a new company will step in.
I contacted Stewart Gilray in the hopes of getting a comment on Microsoft’s actions. He had this to say: “We’ve been talking to Microsoft since September 2010 trying to get either the original games available via Backward compatibility or through the HD remakes we’re doing, but nothing we do from a first party POV is working, be it XBLA, or G.o.D. Obviously we’re not cool enough anymore.”
And so Just Add Water continues their fight to bring Stranger’s Wrath to a modern-day audience. Microsofts seeming reluctance to publish the title is a strange one: as a game that was once an exclusive to them, it would seem to make sense to launch the game on XBLA, even if it doesn’t quite reach their million copy requirement. The PSN version of the game is certainly doing well enough to warrant it.
Regardless, I maintain hope that Strangers Wrath will eventually come to the Xbox 360. Until then I’ll continue to sit and stare at my Xbox copy of the game that is sitting on my desk, unable to be played.
But it’s not all doom and glood as Just Add Water did confirm that they’re working on a brand new Abe project. Bring it on, I say!