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Is Microsoft stooping to the level of the AppStore?

by: Dan -
More On: Blog
Last week Microsoft unveiled a new user created application from its XNA community that was nothing more than a glorified screensaver of a Hi-Definition fireplace.  While on the surface it is cute and seems like it might be a funky little add-on, it quickly became apparent to me that the Xbox 360 Virtual Fireplace was nothing more than a bending-of-the-rules money grab by Microsoft and the person who developed it.  The tipping point came when the $5 price tag was revealed.

Now, I know (and have made) all the arguments about “just don’t buy it” and “it’s not hurting anyone”, but the piece that is disturbing to me is that it was user created out of the XNA community.  The same XNA that proudly proclaims on their main page (XNA.com) that XNA is “a community all about games - created by you, played by everyone.”   To answer the question before it is asked, the word “games” was highlighted by the good admin at XNA.com, not by me.  I would love someone to provide a great explanation to me where a $5 HD fireplace falls into the “games” category.

The minute someone in the XNA quality control department the peer review allowed this non-gaming application to slide through the process was the same minute Microsoft when Xbox Live Marketplace was exposed to the shady dealings that have plagued the AppStore by Apple.  Does anyone remember the “I’m Rich” app?  While this is only one non-gaming Application, how long before we start seeing a flood of junk hit Marketplace because every schmuck with an XNA dev kit thinks he can make a quick buck by creating a screensaver or something?  In my opinion, the QC staff at XNA needs to be reprimanded the peer review process needs tweaking to prevent future breaking bending of the Community Developer rules and letting this non-game junk like this slide through.  Then again, they opened the door to Pandora’s Box, so maybe their penance is to have to review every non-gaming submission that comes their way.  If I’m Microsoft, I quickly remove this application from Marketplace, or create a brand new genre (besides "Other") for useless non-game money grabs like this.  I'm interested to hear feedback on this topic, please leave it in the comments section or the GamingNexus forums.

[EDIT: Dan]  Updated piece regarding XNA review and QC details to reflect accurate process.